Blackhawks' rally falls short as Wild win in shootout


Blackhawks' rally falls short as Wild win in shootout

The Blackhawks didn’t come away with the two points but there was some relief in getting one.

“I still think it’s a step in the right direction from the way we played before,” Duncan Keith said.

Sure, the Blackhawks still need to be better from the start of games. But considering it didn’t look like the Blackhawks would get any points with how they looked about seven minutes into the second period, yeah, they’ll take it.

Andrew Shaw scored his 12th goal of the season but Charlie Coyle won it in a shootout as the Minnesota Wild beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Sunday night. The Blackhawks remain in third place in the Central Division with 91 points. The Dallas Stars, their opponent on Tuesday, are in first with 95 points and the St. Louis Blues are second with 93 points.

Scott Darling stopped 32 of 34 shots through regulation and overtime. Coyle’s shootout winner is the only shot that has gotten past Darling in the four shootouts he’s played.

The Blackhawks let another great opportunity slip early when they got four minutes' worth of power play off Zach Parise's double-minor high-sticking. They got just two shots on goal in those four minutes.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“Yeah, it’s slowed down here a little bit,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “It’s been our bread and butter all year long and it’s been, I don’t know how many games in a row without any production. So that slows down a little of our offense and team game.”

Nino Niederreiter’s 18th goal of the season gave the Wild a 2-0 lead 7:04 into the second period. About 90 seconds later, Shaw provided the spark — and the goal — that woke the Blackhawks up. Shaw slipped into the slot and scored, his shot trickling through Devan Dubnyk to cut Minnesota’s lead to 2-1. About five minutes later fellow fourth liner Richard Panik scored his fourth of the season, a wraparound that tied the game 2-2. Shaw was effective the entire game and earned some 3-on-3 time later.

“I thought he had a lot going on for us tonight. He brought us energy, got the first goal, made several plays where the puck was protected with motion and movement,” Quenneville said. “I thought that line was very good for us.”

Darling was stellar in the third period, when the Wild outshot the Blackhawks 13-7.

“I felt good today,” Darling said. “The two goals [Minnesota scored] were broken plays that everyone got scrambled around. Unfortunate, but other than those I felt good.”

The Blackhawks got through overtime, including a 4-on-3 penalty kill — Zach Parise, who had a chance to win it with Darling out of position, hit the side of the net. But while Coyle scored on Darling, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin came up empty on the other end.

The Blackhawks could have used two points. The gap at the top of the Central is growing some. But for a team that’s been struggling lately, and was once again down two goals on Sunday, any point is good right now.

“You keep competing,” Shaw said. “You look at the little things we did right to put ourselves in a better spot in the second period. You build on it.”

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch


Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

Brandon Saad played a majority of last season on the first line, started this season on the second to change things up, got demoted to the fourth by the fifth game, and could find himself out of the lineup in the sixth.

Before the Blackhawks hit the ice for practice on Monday, the 25-year-old winger found a white jersey hanging in his stall. That's usually reserved for players who are injured — Andreas Martinsen (back) was the only other player wearing one — or players who are on the outside looking in, which appears to be Saad right now considering he was not part of the four-line rotation.

"I don't think anyone wants to be wearing white around here," he said. "But it is what it is and there's nothing you can do but keep trying to improve. It's their job to make the call to put the best team out there to win hockey games."

Known for being even-keeled through the ups and downs, Saad expressed disappointment about the possibility of being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He didn't exactly show that emotion following his demotion to the fourth line, perhaps out of respect to the players he was playing with by noting how it brings balance.

But he did on Monday, and it was the first time we've really seen some sort of emotion out of him.

"Everyone makes mistakes and things aren't always going to go your way but to be out of the lineup, a little surprised today," Saad said. "But it is what it is. ... No one wants to be out of the lineup. That's never fun regardless of who you are."

When asked to pinpoint what's gone wrong, Saad said he wasn't the right person to ask.

"I think you got to ask him that," he said, referring to Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff. "It's his calls. For me, you can talk pros and cons as much as you want but just trying to go out there and compete and win hockey games. We've won a few here, I know every game has gone to overtime so they've been close. Nothing was said to me about lineup change or anything like that. You just come in and you see your jersey and you go out there and you play."

So Quenneville was asked.

"Just expect more," he said. "That's the situation."

Is his mindset in the right place?

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said. "His mindset is what it is. Whether it's urgency or passion, coming up with loose pucks in those areas is going to be the difference."

The Blackhawks sending a message shouldn't only be directed at Saad. It also serves as a reminder to his teammates and is important to note for the younger guys about earning your ice time.

"I don't really know where the coaches are coming from so I'm not going to comment on that," Jonathan Toews said respectfully. "But [Saad] has been doing some good things and I think it's good for all of us to know what's going on there because if [Saad] can get his ice time taken away, then so can a lot of guys, myself included. So we all want to play well and have team success."

The Blackhawks need Saad to return to form quickly because he's crucial to their overall success. There's no debate about that. It's why the thought of Saad, who played in all 82 games last season, serving as the 13th forward is frustrating for everyone involved.

It hasn't been a problem in the past, but now it's becoming one because of the Blackhawks' aspirations of getting back to the playoffs and their dependence on their top players.

"I don’t think it’s an issue," Quenneville said. "We just expect more out of him."

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.