The Blackhawks have been looking for consistency as much as they’ve been looking for points lately. And while they didn’t get the right start again on Sunday, they got enough to earn at least one point by the end of the night.
Hey, it’s not pretty right now but any points are crucial. The Blackhawks got the most out of their fourth line and goaltending and didn’t have any answers in the shootout. So you take what you can.
And as the Central Division plot thickens, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild.
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
1. The Andrew Shaw effect. The Blackhawks needed a spark in the second period after going down 2-0 and he provided that – and a much-needed goal. Shaw scored his 12th goal of the season and was around the net a few minutes later when line mate Richard Panik scored on a wraparound. Said coach Joel Quenneville of that fourth line, “that line was our most dangerous line tonight.”
2. Failed four-minutes of power-play time. The Blackhawks got a big opportunity early when Zach Parise was called for a double-minor high-sticking on Michal Rozsival. But four minutes later, all the Blackhawks had were two shots on goal. Credit the Wild’s kill for part of that, but the Blackhawks have gotten away from the shoot-first mentality that helped their power play click earlier this season.
3. A massive overtime penalty kill. Well, if the Blackhawks needed a confidence boost with that kill, which hasn’t been good this season, they got it in overtime on Sunday night. Facing a 4-on-3 after Artem Anisimov was whistled for goaltending interference, the Blackhawks kept the Wild from scoring in those two minutes. Yes, Parise hitting the side of a wide-open net helped, but the Blackhawks’ kill helped force the shootout.
4. Another good night for Scott Darling. No, it wasn’t a victory but Darling’s a big reason why the Blackhawks had a chance in overtime and the shootout. Darling stopped all 16 Wild shots he saw in the third period, when the Blackhawks managed just seven on the other end. Darling’s shootout loss was his first in four attempts – and Charlie Coyle’s shot was the first to get by him in those appearances. Darling is getting an opportunity due to Corey Crawford’s upper-body injury. No one likes to see someone hurt, but Darling is gaining much-needed confidence in these outings.
5. Artemi Panarin, pugilist? Yes, it was quite the surprise to see Artemi Panarin go after Matt Dumba in the third period. Panarin was ticked off after Dumba hit Patrick Kane, sending Kane to the dressing room for a few minutes. Panarin got a roughing call – the Blackhawks killed off the ensuing penalty. There won’t be any discipline for Dumba – the vice president of the Department of Player Safety sent out an explanation of Rule 48 (unavoidable head contact). But Quenneville appreciated Panarin’s reaction. “I loved the response,” Quenneville said. “Just like the crowd did.”