Blackhawks fail to move up with shootout loss to Wild
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org April 1, 2012 10:30PM
Players on the Hawks’ bench seem to be enjoying Andrew Shaw’s tussle with Cody Almond. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: May 3, 2012 8:18AM
There’s no reason for the Blackhawks to worry about a team catching them in the Western Conference standings.
It’s sixth place or better.
It’s all about trying to catch and surpass the Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators to secure home ice for the first round of the playoffs.
But the Hawks didn’t help their cause Sunday in their last regular-season home game against the down-and-out-of-it Minnesota Wild. Forward Devin Setoguchi scored the decisive goal in the shootout as the Wild prevailed 5-4 in an unexpectedly physical and fight-filled game.
“You look at the standings, [and] there’s a lot of things going on all over, all different kinds of races,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “It seems like we’ve got our own little race inside our division.”
The Hawks needed the two points and a win in regulation or overtime to surpass the Red Wings and Predators. With one point, they tied the Predators at 98, but the Hawks have played one more game.
The Red Wings, who also have a game in hand, have one more point and one more regulation/overtime victory, which is the first tiebreaker, than the Hawks.
So as good as it was to come back from a 4-2 deficit to force overtime, the Hawks’ loss comes with some extra bitterness.
“That’s the biggest thing right now,” forward Patrick Kane said. “Working on these last two games, you want to move forward and get as high as you can in the standings.
“But I think for all of us, we want to be confident about our team going into the playoffs, no matter who we’re playing or where we’re playing at. Just get better as a team, get some confidence, get everyone rolling and get ready for the playoffs.”
Kane scored twice, including the game-tying goal on the power play on a nice feed from Andrew Shaw at 17:15 in the third period, and was the only Hawk to convert in the shootout. Viktor Stalberg and Patrick Sharp also had goals, and Nick Leddy added two assists.
Setoguchi (goal, two assists) and Dany Heatley (power-play goal, assist) led the Wild, whose abrasive approach early on seemingly steered the Hawks away from their preferred pace, especially in the first period.
Jimmy Hayes fought Justin Falk, and Brandon Bollig scrapped with Clayton Stoner in the first period. In the second, Shaw became the third rookie to fight, dropping the gloves with Cody Almond. Shaw accumulated 17 penalty minutes, including a 10-minute misconduct.
The Hawks allowed goals — including Stoner’s goal 20 seconds after Stalberg tied the game at 2 in the second period — that were reminiscent of their earlier struggles.
Ray Emery, getting the start in place of Corey Crawford, stopped 26 of 30 shots in the loss. Josh Harding made 31 saves for the Wild, which has won three in a row and was coming off a shootout victory over the Los Angeles Kings a night earlier.
If anything, defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said the game, with all the fights, hits and chirping, gave the young Hawks another dose of a playoff-like atmosphere to learn from.
“I was kind of shocked myself,” Hjalmarsson said. “It was feisty out there. It’s good for us because the playoffs are coming up. It was a good test.”