The Chicago Blackhawks welcomed a Central Division Rival to the Windy City on Sunday night, losing to the Minnesota Wild by a score of 3-2 in a shootout. Andrew Shaw and Richard Panik scored for the Hawks as they fell to 1-3-2 in their last six games.
The first period was largely pretty boring, with neither side really generating a lot of strong scoring chances. The Blackhawks failed to capitalize on an early double minor penalty by Zach Parise, squandering a chance to really grab hold of the game and get momentum on their side. From there, not much else happened, and the game remained scoreless after 20 minutes.
The Wild took control early on in the middle frame. Erik Haula, continuing his seemingly constant strong play against the Hawks, opened the scoring just 50 seconds into the period after receiving a nice centering pass from Nino Niederreiter. Niederreiter wasn't done there, as he scored to make it 2-0 later in the period. Chicago would respond, however, as Shaw got the Hawks on the board just a minute and a half later, and Panik would add another six minutes after that. The second period ended with a 2-2 tie.
The third period saw some exciting back and forth play, with both goalies standing tall and keeping their team in the game. Scott Darling was huge for the Hawks, stopping all 16 Minnesota attempts, and 32 of the Wild's 34 total shot on the night. Chicago could only get seven shots on net in the third, with Minnesota netminder Devan Dubnyk remaining equal to all of them as the two sides went to overtime.
After killing off an early Artem Anisimov penalty, the Blackhawks were able to generate some offensive pressure when Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith worked the puck magically in the offensive zone. They could only generate one shot on net, though, and neither side would score. The game went to a shootout, where Charlie Coyle beat Darling in the first round. Dubnyk stopped all three Chicago shooters to win the game for the Wild.
While losing another game to another division opponent is certainly not ideal, there is a lot of good to take away from this game for the Blackhawks. They were able to overcome a two goal deficit to tie up the game, and both of their goals came at 5-on-5. That's now six goals at evens from the Hawks in their last two games, definitely trending in the right direction. The penalty kill was also perfect on the night, so while it was only one game, these are good things that. Let's hope they carry over into the coming weeks.
The Blackhawks next game is this Tuesday, when they will take on the Central Division leading Dallas Stars for the final time this season. That one's at home, and puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT.
Adam Hess is a staff writer at Second City Hockey. Follow him on Twitter at @_adamhess.