Wild edge Blackhawks, take over first in West

Wild edge Blackhawks, take over first in West

The few times coach Joel Quenneville decides to go with seven defensemen, as he did on Sunday, that usually means Patrick Kane is going to get a ton of playing time.

He did, and Kane was outstanding. It was what the Blackhawks gave up that was the bigger problem as far as Quenneville was concerned.

Kane scored two goals but the Minnesota Wild scored three unanswered goals as they came back to beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Sunday night. The Blackhawks have now lost two in a row and fall out of first place. That now belongs to the Wild, who are 17-1-1 in their last 19 games. 

It's surprising that it took until mid-January for the Blackhawks and Wild to finally play this season but their first meeting did not disappoint. It was an entertaining one, at least through the first two periods. Kane, who played just over 27 minutes, was a big part of the show and staked the Blackhawks to a 2-0 lead early in the second period.

"I just tried to make the right play," Kane said. "I had a couple chances early in the game to try and get some pucks at the net. After that, I think it's a combination of getting free, being able to throw some pucks in there, a couple good chances but the amount of ice time you're going to get more looks, too."

What happened on the other side, however, wasn't as much to Quenneville's liking. Nino Niederreiter scored a power-play goal about two minutes after Kane had given the Blackhawks their 2-0 lead, and then Chris Stewart's left-point laser about five minutes later tied the game 2-2.

Jason Pominville had the dagger early in the third period. Standing alone on Corey Crawford's left side, Pominville had an open shot when Marco Scandella's shot hit the backboard and caromed right to him.

"[First two goals] we could've done something different on them and the third was a bang-bang play with a fortunate bounce," Quenneville said. "I can say I didn't like the third goal as well but the other two were like cardinal sins."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks got the right start in this one, thanks in large part to Kane, whose 13th goal of the season put the Blackhawks up 1-0 just 4:33 into the game. The Blackhawks, who were stinging after that horrible 6-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Friday, pounced on a Wild team that was coming off a 5-4 victory in Dallas on Saturday night.

But while the Blackhawks still had great scoring opportunities in the second – credit Devan Dubnyk for only allowing one the rest of the way – the Wild capitalized on theirs.

The Blackhawks' run atop the Western Conference is over for now. Their Sunday night was a heck of a lot better than their Friday night. Still, it was a weekend in which the Blackhawks could have regained some momentum. Instead, they couldn't even gain a point.

"It's frustrating. We just needed to play better and finish these games and play better in the third period in tight games like that against a very good team," Artem Anisimov said. "Just didn't get it done."

Calvin de Haan reinjures right shoulder and Blackhawks say 'it's not good'


Calvin de Haan reinjures right shoulder and Blackhawks say 'it's not good'

The Blackhawks have been plagued by injuries as of late and they lost another key defenseman in Tuesday's 5-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

In the waning minutes of the first period, Calvin de Haan took a hit in the neutral zone from Mark Stone, who was penalized for interference on the play, then fell awkwardly and immediately went to the locker room. The Blackhawks later ruled de Haan out for the remainder of the game with a right shoulder injury, which is the same shoulder he had surgery on in the offseason that sidelined him for four-to-six months.

Head coach Jeremy Colliton told reporters after the game de Haan will travel back to Chicago for further evaluation and early indications are "it's not good."

It's unfortunate news for both de Haan and the Blackhawks, who are already without Duncan Keith (groin) and Olli Maatta (flu-like symptoms) on the back end. If de Haan is out for an extended period of time, which appears likely, the Blackhawks' defensive depth will be tested in a significant way considering de Haan took on bigger minutes in Keith's absence.

The Blackhawks brought eight defensemen on the three-game road trip, including top defenseman prospect Adam Boqvist, so a call-up isn't needed unless the team feels it needs an extra one with the uncertainty surrounding Maatta.

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3 Takeaways: Blackhawks lose 5-1 against Golden Knights

USA Today

3 Takeaways: Blackhawks lose 5-1 against Golden Knights

The Blackhawks lost 5-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday. Here are three takeaways:

Point streak ends

The Blackhawks' point streak stayed in Vegas. Chicago had grabbed points in three straight and five out of a possible six heading into Sin City.

Dominik Kubalik scored the lone goal for the Hawks on a power play with 27 seconds remaining in the game and Corey Crawford saved 32 of 37 shots, but Chicago couldn't get much going down a man to start the second period. 

The Hawks beat the Knights 5-3 in their last matchup on Nov. 13, also in Vegas, for the first Blackhawks franchise win over the Golden Knights.

Tough times for Hawks' D

Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan left Tuesday's game late in the first period with a right shoulder injury following a hit from Mark Stone. It's the same shoulder de Haan had surgery on in the offseason, sidelining him for several months.

"He'll go back to Chicago to be evaluated," Hawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said following the game. "It's not good." The Hawks face the Coyotes in Arizona on Thursday and the Blues in St. Louis on Saturday to close out the three-game road trip.

Chicago was already without Duncan Keith (groin injury) on the road trip and Olli Maatta has missed the past four games with flu-like symptoms. 

How bad they were missing three of their everyday defensemen, most recently de Haan, showed in the second period. Entering the frame 0-0, without de Haan in the rotation, the Hawks allowed three unanswered goals in the second: a power-play goal, an even strength goal and a shorthanded goal. The shorty came with 44 seconds remaining in the period.

"The next man in has to step up," defenseman Connor Murphy said after the game. "As a team, you're going to have a lot of ups and downs throughout the year and stuff like that is going to happen. The next guy's got to be ready to play and we believe we have players that are good enough to make that impact and step up when there's injuries."

Defenseman Adam Boqvist was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL on Monday, where he's been since recording one goal in six games with the Hawks (Nov. 3-13). Boqvist has to accelerate his growth in adjusting to the big league and contribute on both sides of the puck if he wants to stick in Chicago and help the Blackhawks out of a tough situation.

The 19-year-old blueliner is a great skater with an excellent shot he needs to use. He has to make quicker decisions with the puck in his own end. A turnover from Boqvist led to Vegas' second goal. Deryk Engelland snagged the puck after Boqvist failed to set up a zone exit off the boards and skated to right faceoff circle to make it 2-0 at 11:24 of the second. Boqvist was also caught facing Corey Crawford, all alone in front of the crease for Vegas' fifth goal, this time from Ryan Reaves.


Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Dominik Kubalik made up the most dangerous Hawks line by far in Vegas. The trio spent some time in the offensive zone and generated a lot of quality looks. 

They're an interesting combination as all of them are defensively responsible forwards that have been a little snake-bitten overall this season. Seeing the chances they're able to create in a tough game, expect them to stick together. 

Toews leads the line in points with 18 (six goals, 12 assists) and Saad in goals with eight. Kubalik has goals in back-to-back games.

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