Patrick Kane extended his point scoring streak to 20 games while Duncan Keith continued his strong play. Corey Crawford made 34 saves but he was bested by Devan Dubnyk and the Minnesota Wild in a 2-1 defeat.
Returning home from their annual, late November, six-game Circus Trip, the Blackhawks looked road weary throughout the first period. Wild forward Jason Pominville opened the scoring by picking up some loose change 4:20 into the game as the Wild crashed the net after a point shot from Jared Spurgeon. Corey Crawford kept the Blackhawks close, though, as Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk denied prime chances for Marko Dano, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane. The first period ended with a 1-0 score.
Kane extended his point scoring streak to 20 games on the power play 5:30 in to the second period, after a blueline takeaway by Duncan Keith, and tied the score at 1. His goal was almost the mirror image of a play from the other night against the Los Angeles Kings where Kane lingered around the opposing net during a failed clearing attempt and found himself all alone against Dubnyk for his 15th goal of the season. Kane is now one game short of Bobby Hull's franchise record 21-game streak, set in the 1971-1972 season.
You give Patrick Kane that much space and he’s gonna score, even when he whiffs pic.twitter.com/WCaHLCPczr— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 2, 2015
Crawford put in some more good work in the second period as the Blackhawks were outshot 25-19 through two. The Hawks were able to kill off three consecutive penalties late in the period to end the frame still tied.
After the the two teams played mostly even through the first twelve minutes of the third period, Crawford denied Wild forward Mikael Granlund twice on a breakaway, but some slow backchecking allowed Ryan Suter to sneak in and put away the rebound to put the Wild ahead 2-1. Suter put in his requisite 30 minutes while Dubnyk and the Wild were able to make that score stand up, sending the Blackhawks to a loss in their Circus Trip homecoming.
The Blackhawks now have just enough time to maybe finish some laundry before they head back out on the road to Ottawa to take on the Senators on Thursday. Puck drop for that game is at 6:30 CT.
ONE, TWO, TREE THOUGHTS
Duncan Keith: Hart Trophy candidate?
You may have noticed that the Vegas odds are currently showing Kane as the frontrunner in the Hart Trophy race, but don't be surprised to see Keith start earning some consideration for MVP as well. He is on a point-per-game pace since his return to the lineup nine games ago (4G, 5A) and now has 11 points overall while putting in his typical workhorse minutes. Keith is twelve points behind the pace for points by defensemen (John Kilngberg, DAL, 5-22-27), which the voters often heavily consider, but that is understandable considering the time he missed after knee surgery. If Keith can stay near this level of production, however, he could be able to catch up and at least earn some Norris Trophy consideration.
With the loss and a Nashville Predators win, the Blackhawks fall back to the first Wild Card position, stuck on 29 points through 25 games. Now just one point ahead of Minnesota, that was a tough loss to take while jockeying for position in what will likely turn out to be a down-to-the-wire playoff chase. They're still ahead of the Vancouver Canucks by four points as far as the last playoff spot goes, but it would be real nice to see a good run through a favorable December schedule to ease the tension a little bit.
I understand the players' and Coach Joel Quenneville's explanations for the need of a tough guy in their lineup, but Brandon Mashinter is #notmybollig. Quenneville only used Mashinter for one shift in the third period and for 5:26 overall. At least Brandon Bollig was useful in the defensive zone and would lay a body on someone a few times a game. Mashinter was virtually invisible tonight, failing to register even a single hit, shot on goal, or a play even worth mentioning. Somewhere in the bowels of the United Center, Teuvo Teravainen wonders what he did to get stuck dragging this guy around the ice for the last two games.