Road reaction: Blackhawks 4, Wild 1
The Madhouse on Madison was another house of horrors for the Minnesota Wild.
Minnesota had to go on the road to the United Center on Sunday, trying to snap its losing streak after a tough homestand. Defensive breakdowns led to each of the Chicago Blackhawks’ goals and the Wild lost, 4-1, on Sunday night, their fifth straight loss and 11th in 13 games.
In the past five games, Minnesota has earned one point (0-4-1). In the 13-game stretch, the Wild have lost seven games in regulation and earned four points in four overtime losses. Minnesota, which lost in the second round of the playoffs to Chicago last season, is 0-3 this season against the Blackhawks.
Chicago scored quickly with goals from Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell in the first eight minutes of the game and led 11-3 in shots at one point. The Wild ended up outshooting the Blackhawks 37-35 but Chicago scored twice in the second before Minnesota forward Matt Cooke scored his third goal of the season in the third.
The defense which helped the Wild overcome a constant rotation at goaltender last season and has allowed the third fewest shots per game this season, has had miscues during the recent stretch.
Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews got in alone, which led to Hossa’s tap-in goal 4 minutes, 17 seconds into the game. Bickell was left alone in front of Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom for the second goal. Backstrom made 31 saves in the loss.
The Wild had won six of their past 11 road games before Sunday, which was the sixth of their 13 sets of back-to-back games. Minnesota is 2-2-2 on the second night of back-to-back games this season.
1. Hossa, F, Blackhawks: The steady veteran Hossa is one of the game’s best two-way players and showed it Sunday. Hossa had a game-high six shots and his early goal helped set the tone. Toews made a nifty pass after drawing the defense, leaving Hossa a wide-open net to shoot on. But Hossa, strong on the puck all night, helped set up his teammates, as well. Hossa took the puck away in the Wild offensive zone and sprung a 3-on-1 which led to Johnny Oduya’s goal. With a goal and assist, Hossa has 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in 30 career games against Minnesota.
2. Bickell, F, Blackhawks: Bickell loves seeing The Wild. In 18 career games against Minnesota, Bickell has seven goals and two assists. Playing on the left side of Brad Richards and Patrick Kane, the big winger scored at Minnesota on Tuesday and had a goal and an assist Sunday. Bickell added a game-high five hits.
3. Corey Crawford, G, Blackhawks: Cooke’s goal with 4:52 left ended Crawford’s shutout bid when he scored on a rebound. Crawford didn’t have to make many big saves, but was up to the task. He stopped 42 of 44 shots he faced on Tuesday and added 36 saves on 37 shots Sunday. Crawford is 7-3-2 in 13 games against Minnesota with a 2.24 goals-against average and .919 save percentage.
Seen: Jason Zucker’s first career penalty shot. Zucker had a chance to get the Wild on the board and possibly change the momentum in the game when he was hooked from behind by Oduya in the second period. Zucker was awarded his first career penalty shot after speeding into the offensive zone past Niklas Hjalmarsson and Oduya.
Zucker came in for the penalty shot and the left-handed shooter went to his right and tried to flip a backhand high — a similar move to what teammate Mikko Koivu uses — but the shot went wide. Minnesota is 1 of 3 on penalty shots this season and 17 of 31 all-time. Nino Niederreiter scored on a penalty shot earlier this season in Chicago.
Next: It doesn’t get any easier for the Wild. Minnesota travels to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins on Tuesday. After facing the third-place team in the Western Conference on Sunday, the Wild draw the third-place team in the Eastern Conference in Pittsburgh for a 6 p.m. start.
The Penguins will be waiting. They beat Montreal in overtime on Saturday on a Sidney Crosby goal and have two off days before hosting Minnesota, who will be in the second game of its three-game road trip.
The Wild lost, 4-1, at home to the Penguins earlier in the season, when backup goaltender Thomas Greiss made 33 saves. Minnesota will likely face Marc-Andre Fleury in goal Tuesday. Fleury is tied for fifth in the NHL in wins with 21. He’s fifth among all No. 1 goaltenders with a 2.16 goals-against average and seventh with a .926 save percentage.
Pittsburgh is 3-4-2 in its past nine games.
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