Well, that was pleasant to see. To me, this game had the distinct aroma of an ugly affair coming into it, due to the Hawks history with the Wild, as well as on Versus (and particularly against the Wild ON Versus), and the threat of Martin Havlat going all Fatal Attraction on the Hawks. Outside of an early rush around and through Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marty was fairly invisible, likely due to a lingering groin issue, and not the kind that Adam Burish needs inoculations for.
The game had a good pace to start off, with the Hawks again looking to get the crowd fully into it and continue to bolster their tenuous support of Cristobal Huet. After a bit of back-and-forth with no real good chances either way, Dave Bolland buried a rebound of an Andrew Ladd shot, which culmitated a nice sequence that originated with a risky cross-ice pass from Jordan Hendry to Ladd. Troy Brouwer increased the lead to 2-0 by stuffing home a garbage goal off of a rebound on the power play. It's likely due to Toews not being in the lineup, but even once he returns, Brouwer needs to be given a look on the power play as an alternative to whatever it is that Tomas Kopecky has been doing with a man up.
After a thoroughly uneventful second period, the Hawks once again began parading to the sin bin in the third, which led to Andrew Brunette potting a goal on the advantage after a scrum and three or four whacks at the puck in front of a prone Huet; not a lot Cris could do on that one. The Blackhawks responded with a lot of sustained pressure in the Minnesota zone, cycling the puck in the right corner, when Patrick Kane broke free and was allowed to deal from behind the net, walked out in front, and basically gave a Belmont Transfer to Nicklas Backstrom and the Minnesota defensemen. Kane walked out, turned around, and fired a shot past Backstrom's ear, ringing it off the back bar and out before half of the Wild knew what happened. From there on out, it was academic, as Minnesota put up little fight in the waning seconds.
- John Forslund and Andy Brickley are BRUTAL.
- It was nice to see the fourth line generate a little bit of pressure and physicality tonight, with Jake Dowell getting into an obligatory scrap with Shane Hnidy after being called up. I know inbound rush hour traffic in the rain on the Kennedy is enough to make most people ornery, probably had the same effect on Dowell.
- The Hawks were flat out horrendous at the dot with Toews not in the lineup, winning only 17 of 50
- The PK looked good for the most part, despite allowing the lone Minny goal. It was more of a result of giving them enough opportunities. Let's hope this recent trend of heading to the box in the third is merely a fleeting thing.
- Likewise, in spite of scoring a goal, the power play still looks like shit.