Wild lose battle of NHL's best two teams
The Wild have the Blackhawks trying to catch them in the standings, but it was the other way in the game.
The Blackhawks (19-8-4) came out strong and forced the Wild to catch up on the scoreboard in both goals and shots.
“We got a point,” Cal Clutterbuck said. “But, could easily have gotten two.”
The Wild (20-8-4) did catch up and seemed to play better as the game went on, despite playing an intense game in Winnipeg Tuesday while the Blackhawks were already in St. Paul.
“That is a win for us far as I’m concerned,” Mike Yeo.
The Blackhawks scored first and held on to improve to 11-0-1 when scoring first. The Blackhawks were given a pair of gift power plays, first a bad tripping penalty on Mikko Koivu and unsportsmanlike penalty on Matt Cullen shortly before the midpoint of the game.
“That was not the story of the game,” Yeo said. “We could easily have gotten down at that point.”
The Blackhawks took advantage of the second power play to get a loose puck goal at the top of the crease from Marian Hossa.
Michael Frolik gave the Blackhawks a two goal lead with a tap-in of a pass from Marcus Kruger on the backdoor. The two Blackhawk goals came one minute and 29 seconds apart.
“That can go two ways,” Clutterbuck said. “It can deflate you, which probably would have happened last. It only takes one play.”
The Wild got on the board two minutes and 22 seconds later when Kyle Brodziak waited for Ray Emery to make the first move and fired a shot into the open net for his team-leading 11th goal of the season. Nick Johnson got a loose puck in the corner and sent a perfect pass to him at the top of the crease. The Blackhawks questioned the referees as to why icing was not called on the Wild.
Cullen tied the game two minutes and 51 seconds later by knocking a rebound off a Clutterbuck deke into the open net behind Emery.
The two teams remained tied until Jonathan Toews moved from the corner to front of the net to fire a wrist shot past Niklas Backstrom at the 6:54 mark of the third period.
The Wild have tied games late and Wednesday was no different as Koivu fired a pass from Clutterbuck past Emery with five minutes and four seconds remaining.
The Blackhawks scored on both of its shootout attempts and the Wild were held scoreless.
The two teams played a lackluster first period that produced no goals, no penalties and an 11-2 shots on goal advantage for the Blackhawks.
Clutterbuck described the first period as “two first place teams playing against each other hard.”
Brad Staubitz and Daniel Carcillo sparked both teams with a fight that, in the boxing world, would have gone to Staubitz with his late flurry and take down three and a half minutes into the second period.
The Wild had its largest crowd of the season and sixth largest in team history.
The Wild lost back-to-back games for the sixth time this season, but have earned gone to overtime in at least one game four of those times.
The Wild’s lead in the conference dropped to two points. It returns to action Saturday against the New York Islanders at the Xcel Energy Center.
No. 3 – Mikko Koivu. The Wild forward scored a goal.
No. 2 – Cal Clutterbuck. The Wild forward had two assists.
No. 1 – Jonathan Toews. The Blackhawks forward had a goal and an assist.
Chicago 0 2 1 0 – 4
Minnesota 0 2 1 0 – 3
First Period – None. Penalties – None.
Second Period – 1, Chicago, Hossa 13 (Sharp, Toews), 9:19 (pp). 2, Chicago, Frolik 10 (Kruger, Mayers), 10:48. 3, Minnesota, Brodziak 11 (Johnson), 13:10. 4, Minnesota, Cullen 10 (Clutterbuck, Peters), 15:41. Penalties – Staubitz, Min, major (fighting), 3:29; Carcillo, Chi, major (fighting), 3:29; Koivu, Min (tripping), 7:06; Cullen, Min (unsportsmanlike conduct), 8:20; Montador. Chi (high sticking), 17:37.
Third Period – 5, Chicago, Toews 18 (Stalberg), 6:54. 6, Minnesota, Koivu 8 (Clutterbuck, Stoner), 14:56. Penalties – Carcillo, Chi (elbowing), 8:01. Overtime – None. Penalties – None.
Shots on goal – Chicago 11-10-7-3 31. Minnesota 2-10-16-2 30.
Shootout – Chicago Toews (goal), Kane (goal). Minnesota Cullen (saved), Heatley (missed).
Goalies – Chicago, Emery (27-30). Minnesota, Backstrom (28-31). A – 19,254. Referees – Chris Rooney, Francois St. Laurent. Linesmen – Ryan Galloway, Dan Schachte.