photo – Yahoo! Sports
By Brad Gardner
The Blackhawks captured their second consecutive win Thursday night at the United Center against the visiting Minnesota Wild. A three-goal second period built a big enough lead for the ‘Hawks to hold in the third as the team earned a 5-2 win over the reeling Wild.
Minnesota winger Devin Setoguchi, who was scratched for the team’s previous game Tuesday against San Jose, notched the first goal of the contest just after the game’s first TV timeout. Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery kicked a rebound out to the top of his crease, leaving an easy play for Setoguchi on the fly-by to get the Wild on the board first.
Chicago’s Andrew Shaw knotted the game at 1-1 later in the first period for his second goal in five games. Bryan Bickell drove the slot and occupied the defenseman, leaving Shaw room to skate in closer up the left side of the zone and beat Minnesota’s Josh Harding to the far side.
The ‘Hawks controlled play through the better portion of the opening period and that momentum carried over into the second frame to the tune of three goals by the home team.
Jimmy Hayes scored the first on the power play at 8:53 of the second period. Hayes parked in front of the net and slammed home a Dave Bolland pass from behind the net, giving Chicago the lead at 2-1.
Viktor Stalberg extended the lead just 23 seconds later. Jonathan Toews fought through a check at the blue line and sent a pass to Stalberg breaking into the zone. The winger had plenty of room to skate in and beat Harding for his fourth goal in the last two games.
Chicago’s lead was extended to 4-1 by Dave Bolland with a power play goal of his own at the 16:27 mark of the middle frame. Steve Montador got the puck to the crease and Bolland was able to locate the loose puck and put it in the open net. The goal prompted first-year Wild coach Mike Yeo to call his timeout and make a switch in net, sending out rookie Matt Hackett to finish the game.
The Wild got one back in the third when Kyle Brodziak had another rebound from Emery bounce right to him in front. That goal occurred about nine minutes into the final period, but it was as close as it would get for the visitors.
Despite not getting too many good chances in the third period, the ‘Hawks were able to hold on and Bolland iced the game with an empty-netter. Bolland’s second tally of the game made it a 5-2 final score.
– Not Ray Emery’s sharpest start of the season but the offense was there to give him a cushion. Emery gave up a handful of juicy rebounds in addition to the two that ended up in the back of his net.
– The ‘Hawks power play keyed the second period rally and finished the game 2-for-3. That unit had managed only one power play goal in 23 chances over Chicago’s previous seven games. The PK took care of their lone opportunity of the game and have not given up a power play goal against in either of the team’s two wins this week.
– Dave Bolland was named the first star of the game for his two goals, which brought him up to fifth on the team with a total of 12 on the year. He came into the game against Minnesota tied with Patrick Kane at 10 goals but has now scored in three straight games to surpass Kane. Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw were your second and third stars of the game, respectively.
– Michael Frolik didn’t have his name called, but he still turned in a solid effort. He notched two assists for his first multi-point game since October 29th. Frolik skated the first two periods between Andrew Brunette and Andrew Shaw, a combination that created a flurry of chances on a couple of their shifts. He finished the game back on wing with Bolland and Marian Hossa as Quenneville tinkered with his middle two lines in the final frame. That left Andrew Shaw to center the third line with Brunette and Jimmy Hayes on his wings in the third.
– Andrew Shaw’s goal went far side from the left circle, an area where several other shots were directed in on Harding early. Stalberg and Frolik each took chances from that side, so the ‘Hawks might have seen something on the film.
– Harding, who came into the game with a .932 save percentage, looked human, giving up four goals on 21 shots. The rookie Hackett, suiting up in place of an ill Niklas Backstrom, stopped all eight shots that he faced.
– This recap was composed under the demanding glare of the Joel Quenneville bobblehead handed out prior to the game.
– The ‘Hawks will look to keep it going on Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings. The game will air on NBC in one of those great 11:30am starts.
In addition to covering the Blackhawks for TheThirdManIn.com, Brad is also the Blackhawks correspondent at HockeysFuture.com.