Blackhawks best Wild, winning streak now at 5 games
Adam L. jahns ON THE blackhawks February 28, 2011 11:47PM
BLACKHAWKS 4, WILD 2
BLACKHAWKS 0 3 1 — 4
Minnesota 0 0 2 — 2
First Period—None. Penalties—None.
Second Period—1, HAWKS, Sharp 33 (Toews, Keith), :44. 2, HAWKS, Kopecky 12 (Stalberg, Campbell), 6:22. 3, HAWKS, Toews 23 (Kane, Sharp), 14:02. Penalties—Schultz, Min (delay of game), 7:56; Scott, HAWKS, minor-major-misconduct (instigator, fighting), 14:18; Staubitz, Min, minor-major (boarding, fighting), 14:18; Havlat, Min (tripping), 18:38.
Third Period—4, Minnesota, Havlat 20 (Clutterbuck), :45. 5, Minnesota, Burns 16 (Brodziak, Havlat), 15:48. 6, HAWKS, Hossa 16 (Toews), 18:08 (sh). Penalties—Hjalmarsson, HAWKS (holding), 3:39; Bolland, HAWKS (tripping), 10:45; Kopecky, HAWKS (delay of game), 16:38.
Shots on Goal—HAWKS 14-10-10—34. Minnesota 9-5-12—26. Power-play opportunities—HAWKS 0 of 2; Minnesota 0 of 3.
Goalies—HAWKS, Crawford 23-12-3 (26 shots-24 saves). Minnesota, Backstrom 20-15-4 (34-30).
Referees—Frederick L’Ecuyer, Mike Leggo. Linesmen—Greg Devorski, Thor Nelson.
A—19,155 (18,064). T—2:19.
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
ST. PAUL, Minn. — It has been a crazy — at times infuriating — season for the Blackhawks. But general manager Stan Bowman always has liked his team.
Even when he openly discussed areas he was going to address before Monday’s trade deadline — particularly depth at center and defense — Bowman expressed confidence in his team’s makeup.
“We are just starting to come together as a group,” Bowman said. “We don’t think we need drastic changes.”
That might just sound like hopeful talk from the man with the final say on roster decisions, but the Hawks continued to show why Bowman might have been right not to make major changes.
Buoyed by an MVP-like performance by Jonathan Toews, the Hawks won their fifth game in a row, knocking off the Minnesota Wild 4-2 on Monday at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Hawks have picked up points in nine of their last 10 games.
They also vaulted back into the top eight of the Western Conference, which seems to get tighter by the night.
“All year, we’ve been looking to put something together like this,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “The last three games were all huge games. The implications and the teams we were playing were all in the space we’re at. It’s a good stretch for us. The next biggest game of the year is coming up against Calgary [on Wednesday].”
It wasn’t a pretty win. The Hawks nearly blew a three-goal lead in the third period after being all over the Wild in the first 40 minutes. But Toews set up Marian Hossa for a huge short-handed goal in the last two minutes to seal the win.
Toews continues to click, finishing with a goal and two assists. Patrick Sharp had a goal and an assist as the Hawks took off in the second period, scoring three times. Tomas Kopecky also scored in the second, and Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brian Campbell and Viktor Stalberg had assists.
Corey Crawford got the start in back-to-back games and made 24 saves. The Wild rallied in the third as Marty Havlat scored on a breakaway 45 seconds into the period after his penalty expired, and Brent Burns made it a one-goal game with 4:12 left.
But the Hawks’ penalty kill was huge in the third, killing off three power plays and coming through with arguably the biggest goal of the season.
Niklas Backstrom made 30 saves for the Wild.
“We needed that, for sure,” Toews said. “You can expect a team like that to come out hard and really try to hold on to whatever life they may have in the third period. We wanted to play better and stay out of the box in the third, but we did what we had to do and killed some penalties.
“It was a nice cushion to get that fourth one when they’re just trying to keep the puck in and no one was helping their guy out at the blue line. It was a nice finish by [Hossa].”
It’s the Hawks’ developing chemistry that Bowman sees. He sees his top line of Toews, Sharp and Kane clicking, Hossa heating up with Dave Bolland as his center and Kopecky settling in on the fourth line with Stalberg and Ryan Johnson.
Bowman’s major tweaks were adding winger Michael Frolik (for Jack Skille on Feb. 17) and defenseman Chris Campoli (for Ryan Potulny and a conditional second-round pick on Monday) to his mix.
The Hawks were unable to bring in a true center, but Bowman said he has been pleased with the emergence of Johnson, a free-agent signing in December, on the fourth line.
That fourth line came up with the Hawks’ second goal.