The Wild opened the scoring early with a goal from Ryan Hartman less than three minutes into the game. Marc-André Fleury had to be sharp throughout the first as the Blackhawks were outshot 17-9, with a majority being quality scoring chances. Luckily, the Blackhawks’ offense came alive, producing two goals before the first period closed.
First, Henrik Borgström tied it after a dangerous feed from behind the net by Dylan Strome at the 12:58 mark:
BORGSTROM GOALLLL— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 10, 2021
we are tied pic.twitter.com/mEZlAtpWYC
Next, Patrick Kane found Alex Debrincat off the rush, who tapped in his own rebound to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead with 4:46 left in the period. Seth Jones picked up the secondary assist thanks to a beautiful stretch pass that sprung Kane.
Cat's out of the bag we're up 2-1 pic.twitter.com/fRxfkf3PUJ— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 10, 2021
The Blackhawks kept the offensive momentum in the second period, scoring another two goals.
The third Blackhawks goal of game was courtesy of another great passing play, this time starting with Philipp Kurashev, who slid the puck across the royal road to connect with Ryan Carpenter for a wrister that beat Kaapo Kahkonen.
Then Jonathan Toews scored his first goal of the preseason when Debrincat’s shot rebounded off of Toews’ chest and into the net on the power play to put the Blackhawks up 4-1 with 3:42 left in the period:
Jonathan Toews: Whatever it takes pic.twitter.com/mwTPr90qA4— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 10, 2021
The final highlight of the period was Fleury going way, way out of the crease to try to help his teammates out. He was ultimately penalized with delay of game after crashing back into the net:
Toews wasn’t done for the night — he got his second goal of the game 6:18 into the third period, also on the power play:
Things got a little heated as the Blackhawks ran up the score: Minnesota’s Brandon Duhaime took offense to a Riley Stillman hit and the two dropped the gloves with 13:00 remaining in the 3rd period:
Brandon Duhaime drops the gloves with Riley Stillman. Linesmen get in the way too early and get Duhaime an extra punch in the face pic.twitter.com/YUqILGwWx0— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) October 10, 2021
Despite a late push by the Wild, the Blackhawks held them off and won 5-1.
HAWKS WIN! HAWKS WIN!
- The Blackhawks were quite porous in the first period, allowing 17 shots on goal, nine high-danger chances against, and more than a handful of dangerous rushes.
- But the second was the opposite: the Blackhawks kept the Wild to only four shots on goal, zero high-danger chances, and stifled their rush game. Second periods have historically been poor for the Blackhawks and not great this preseason, but this was quite dominant which was great to see.
- The third swung a bit in the Wild’s favor in terms of puck possession, but score effects will do that. Despite that, the Blackhawks were good at limiting any meaningful zone time. Pretty strong closing effort.
- Fleury had another great outing — especially in the first — and made 25 saves to end the game with a .965 save percentage. Not too shabby. But maybe staying within 10-15 feet of the net would be an idea for the future, eh?
- Much ado has been made about Seth Jones not looking particularly great his first two preseason games, but it bears repeating: it’s the preseason. There were still some issues on the defensive side, but he was second among Blackhawks defensemen in terms of expected goals share (56.36 percent) and had a really good game offensively with three assists.
- Jake McCabe and Connor Murphy seemed to have much better chemistry with each other than they did with previous partners. Before the score effects in the third period, the duo had positive suppression metrics, suggesting they could be a decent shutdown pairing. Something to watch if they stick together.
- Toews getting two goals — even if one was more a lucky bounce off him — was very nice to see. He’s looked like his old self all preseason so good to see him rewarded, even if the points are ultimately meaningless.
- DeBrincat is a rebound machine.
- The line of Borgström, Dach, and Strome was out there just bumslaying all night and could have had another two or three goals. Dach especially was robbed at least twice after great passes from both Borgström and Strome. The Center Trio also led Blackhawks lines in shot attempts share (66.67 percent) and expected goals share (78.54 percent).
- Speaking of Strome, his pass on the Borgström goal is why the former can be a very useful player offensively: behind-the-net passes are some of the most dangerous and no one has had more of those than Strome for the Blackhawks for the last three seasons.
- Entwistle had another strong game as well, albeit in a defensive role, so less tangible than some others. His waiver exemption status may work against him when it comes to roster decisions but it won’t be for lack of quality performances this preseason.
- So after great performances from all the bubble guys tonight (Borgstrom, Strome, and Entwistle) along with those from previous games who didn’t play tonight (Gaudette), it’ll be interesting to see who make the final roster.
The Blackhawks have three days off before their regular season opener against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Wednesday night for a 9 p.m. start.