By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks won their third straight game Tuesday in opportunistic fashion, making a Marian Hossa tally hold up behind Ray Emery’s third shutout of the season. Razor stopped all 20 shots he faced as the Blackhawks won 1-0 at the Excel Energy Center.
Chicago had several nice chances in the early minutes. Three minutes into the game, Duncan Keith swiped a puck along the boards and got to the front of the net with Andrew Shaw on his right. Keith’s shot was absorbed by Niklas Backstrom.
The Wild had a chance when Devin Setoguchi got his stick on a slap shot in the eighth minute. However, the deflection skidded along the crease and never found the net.
Chicago nearly got the first goal of the contest at the midway point of the first when Sheldon Brookbank got a shot on Backstrom. The puck lay next to the prone goalie for several seconds before Jonathan Toews knocked the puck to a waiting Marian Hossa. Hossa got the puck into the net. However, the officials had lost sight of the puck and whistled it dead.
The Blackhawks outshot Minnesota 11-4 in the first 20 minutes. None of those shots made it past Backstrom or Emery and the baskets remained biscuit-free.
The Wild got a few scoring chances early in the second period, including a point-blank attempt by Cal Clutterbuck that was set up by Kyle Brodziak. Emery was able to cover the attempt.
In the fifth minute, Marcus Kruger made a nice move to the net and sent a shot off of Backstrom. Sharp had a nice chance for the put-back but sent it into Backstrom’s pads.
With 6:17 gone in the period, Daniel Carcillo was able to coax a roughing penalty out of the Wild’s Mike Rupp. Nick Leddy got off a shot from the blue line that Backstrom never saw, but it drew nothing but the right post and the ‘Hawks could not capitalize on the power play.
Clutterbuck drew an interference call on Brookbank with 7:19 left in the second but Chicago killed the penalty. A moment later, Hossa stepped in front of a Clayton Stoner pass attempt and slapped it past Backstrom for a 1-0 Blackhawks lead at the mark.
With 3:16 left, penalties on Andrew Shaw and Zenon Konopka opened up the ice for two minutes of 4-on-4 time. Neither team was able to take advantage. Time ran out in the second period with Chicago holding a 1-0 advantage.
Minnesota came out aggressively in the final period, but the first real big scoring chance came for the Blackhawks in the sixth minute. Sharp sprung Kane for a breakaway, but the forehand to backhand attempt was stopped by Backstrom.
The score was still 1-0 when Zach Parise tripped Shaw with 7:48 remaining in the game. The Blackhawks had a chance to take full control of the outcome but couldn’t get anything going in the two-minute advantage.
With 3:10 to go, Rupp took a loose puck the net. Emery had to make a huge save to prevent the tying goal. Minnesota took a timeout with 1:17 left and pulled Backstrom. Toews won a couple of huge defensive zone draws in the last 21 seconds and time ran out on a Wild comeback.
-The ‘Hawks outshot Minnesota 31-20. Backstrom was one save short tonight but he played perhaps a better game than Emery. Not that Razor was bad at all.
-Sharp made a solid return, playing almost 18 minutes and getting off five shots on goal, which tied him with Toews for the team lead on the night.
-Coach Joel Quenneville took a puck off the noggin in the second period. No word if he will be day-to-day with an upper-body injury, but he seemed all right.
-Next up for the Blackhawks is a home date with the Red Wings Friday night.