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The Loser’s Standing Small: Wild 5, Blackhawks 1

The Blackhawks fail to show up in the first period yet again.

Minnesota Wild v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Yet another terrible start doomed the Blackhawks Friday night as they were routed 5-1 by the Minnesota Wild.

The Wild opened the scoring — like most Blackhawks opponents this season — when Calen Addison cycled down low before backhanding the puck to Marcus Foligno, who stuffed it home to put the Wild up 1-0 just 2:58 in the first period.

Ryan Hartman made it 2-0 after a brilliant pass from Kirill Kaprizov that went through three Blackhawks players in the slot. Absolutely no one was covering Hartman.

Possibly in an attempt to change the momentum in favor of the Blackhawks, Riley Stillman dropped the gloves against Brandon Duhaime during a faceoff. Then Connor Dewar and MacKenzie Entwistle decided they wanted in on the fighting action shortly after. The latter two received a game misconduct each and were ejected from the game for an altercation after the whistle.

It looked like Stillman’s ploy was working for a bit as the Blackhawks pushed hard after the fights. Unfortunately, they were unable to cash in on any opportunities, and instead, the Wild scored late in the period to go up 3-0.

This time it was Mats Zuccarello with a nice set up to Hartman for the former Blackhawk’s second of the game off a slapper that just beats Marc-Andre Fleury.

The Blackhawks kept the Wild from getting a shot on net until over 11 minutes into the second period, but still went down another two goals before the period ended.

Addison teed up his own slap shot and fired a rocket of a shot from the point to put the Wild up 4-0 at the 12:05 mark of the second period. That goal ended Fleury’s night.

Just over four minutes later, the Duhaime got an easy tap-in goal into an opened net after a slick pass from Kevin Fiala. Duhaime was wide open with the nearest Blackhawk over 10 feet away.

The Blackhawks finally get on the board to make it 5-1 with 5:03 in the third period. Dylan Strome found the back of the net after a cross-ice pass from Patrick Kane.

The Strome goal would be the extent of the Blackhawks “comeback” effort, and they fell 5-1 to the Wild.

Notes

  • Tonight marked the sixth time this season the Blackhawks allowed three or more goals against in the first period, now the most in the league this season. They also allowed a goal in the first five minutes of the game for what feels like the 30th time but realistically I’m not looking that stat up because it’s just depressing. Suffice it to say, the Blackhawks are not typically very good in the opening frame of a game:
  • The frustrating thing about the first period is that the Blackhawks actually possessed the puck a decent amount and had their own chances, but the defensive breakdowns or too much puck watching did them in. The Blackhawks have been very good at minimizing errors like tonight under King, but this was the second game in a row where there were major issues defensively on pretty much every goal.
  • It also wasn’t Fleury’s best game for sure, but he’s the main reason the Blackhawks have won recently — hell, he’s the only reason they got a point against Seattle — so it’d be nice if, for once, the team in front of him bailed him out on an off night.
  • Now, the Blackhawks did start to play better in the second period — up to a point. They outshot the Wild 15-9, but only one of those shots was high-danger by location, so it felt like a lot of zone time but not a lot of threats. The back-half still had some major mistakes, but they weren’t as steamrolled as in the first. Got to find some bright spots, I guess.
  • The pairing of McCabe and S. Jones aren’t consistently together, but when they are, they’re rarely good. Tonight was no exception. Both are better with de Haan and Murphy, respectively.
  • The only line that ever felt particularly dangerous for the Blackhawks was the one with Hagel, Strome and Kane, so it’s no surprise they ultimately scored the lone goal. When on the ice at 5-on-5, that trio was responsible for almost half of the Blackhawks shot attempts, 40 percent of their shots on goal, and their only high danger change by location in the game.
  • Speaking of Strome, he was arguably the Blackhawks best forward tonight. He was battling often in front of the net, had numerous great setups to his linemates, and some of the best chances for the Blackhawks. When Strome is on, he’s really on.
  • Kane also extended his point streak to nine games with his assist on Strome’s game. Whatever is ailing Kane isn’t stopping him from producing.
  • Stillman ended up leaving the game with a left shoulder injury. Hopefully it’s nothing major, but if he does miss some time, it’s time for the Blackhawks organization to play guys like Jakub Galvas or Ian Mitchell more than a few games at a time. Let’s see what they could do with 10 games in a row or something.
  • Unfortunately, the Blackhawks don’t have long to lick their wounds as they play the Wild again Saturday night in St. Paul. If there was any hope left of the playoffs (spoiler: there really wasn’t), the Blackhawks need to at least split these games — a feat that seems pretty unlikely after tonight.

Game Charts

Three stars

  1. Ryan Hartman (MIN) — 2 goals
  2. Mats Zuccarello (MIN) — 1 goal, 2 assists
  3. Kirill Kaprizov (MIN) — 2 assists, cheat sheet in human form

What’s next

The Blackhawks travel to Minnesota for a rematch against the Wild on Saturday night with an 8 p.m. start.