Patrick Kane's Hat Trick Lifts Chicago to 5-3 Win Over Minnesota

Patrick Kane's Hat Trick Lifts Chicago to 5-3 Win Over Minnesota

NHL

Patrick Kane's Hat Trick Lifts Chicago to 5-3 Win Over Minnesota

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Minnesota begins yet another 3-game road trip this early evening as the Wild hope to keep momentum as they climb the Central Division ladder.  The Chicago Blackhawks are playing ok, but haven’t been able to string together enough wins to make much progress in the standings.  The Wild’s resilience and confidence has brought a resurgence of enthusiasm after their rough start to the season.

The Blackhawks had a demoralizing 4-3 loss to St. Louis last night after losing their last three games so they might be one ornery squad when they play this evening.  Can the Wild keep their momentum going with a road win over Chicago?

1st Period Thoughts:  The modified ‘GEEK’ line with Luke Kunin playing center instead of an injured Joel Eriksson Ek would create the first two shots of the game as Jordan Greenway and Ryan Hartman were denied by Robin Lehner.  The Blackhawks tried to respond with some offensive pressure of their own and Patrick Kane ripped a shot on goal that was steered aside by Kaapo Kahkonen.  The modified ‘GEEK’ line continued to cause a lot of havoc with their hustle and strong play along the wall and they got great help from their defense as Carson Soucy and Jonas Brodin were activating to hold the zone and sending pucks on goal.  Chicago thought they had the Wild right where they wanted them as Kane was stopped on a wrap around attempt by Kahkonen.  Kane argued with the official that the puck was across the goal line and the play would be reviewed.  The replay seemed to indicate Kane had two good chances but nothing looked too definitive to me, but the it was good enough for the officials and Chicago took a 1-0 lead.

Not sure how that constitutes something that definitively crossed the goal line, but whatever.  Moments after Kane’s goal, the Wild appeared to spring Kevin Fiala for a breakaway who had a good 10-foot lead on the Chicago defense but he’d be chased down by Erik Gustafsson and wasn’t able to get a shot on goal.  Minnesota would give Chicago the first power play of the game as Greenway got tangled up with a Blackhawks player for an interference penalty to an annoyed stare by Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau.  Predictably, the penalty proved very costly as Kane worked his into the high slot and after a small give and go play with Jonathan Toews who dished it back to Kane and he’d rip a shot by Kahkonen.  2-0 Chicago.  Minnesota would then get a power play on a hooking call to Kirby Dach.  The Wild would make the most of the opportunity as they moved the puck around the perimeter before Ryan Suter set up Eric Staal for a one-timer that blew by Lehner.  2-1 Chicago on Staal’s 1,000th NHL point.

The Wild followed up the goal with the GEEK line that had some sustained possession with a good cycling game along the boards but were unable to generate any scoring chances despite having the puck for well over 30 seconds in the Chicago zone.  Some scary news as Jason Zucker would struggle to make his way to the Wild bench after blocking a Brent Seabrook dump in, and needed the assistance of the training staff to make his way back to the locker room.

Thankfully he’d return for his next shift.  The ZZ Top line would give Chicago some trouble with terrific hustle as Zucker and Staal were firing shots from the perimeter and then winning the races to the loose pucks.  The active 1st period would end as both clubs appeared to have plenty of energy for their 2nd game (respectively) of a back-to-back.  2-1 Chicago at the end of one.

2nd Period Thoughts:  Chicago would take an early high sticking penalty to Toews as he struck Greenway, but as the play went on and Greenway was set up for a shot he’d chop a stick out of the hands of a Blackhawks’ defender and earn a slashing minor himself.  With the ice a bit more open 4-on-4, the Wild would tie the game as Fiala would pounced on a blocked shot by Suter where he was able to race by the flat-footed Chicago defense and skate in on a breakaway where he’d beat Lehner with a wrist shot.  2-2 game.

Minnesota was taking any chance to send pucks on goal, hoping Lehner, who seemed a bit shaky, might let in a cheap one.  Ryan Donato was looking especially assertive as he’d get a step on a Alex Nylander and he’d drive to the blue paint where Lehner held onto his quick shot.

The Blackhawks tried to answer back with some forechecking pressure but Minnesota had good puck support and were able to keep Chicago from being able to send much in the way of shots on towards Kahkonen to deal with.  Chicago would re-take the lead as Connor Murphy sent a wrist shot that was redirected by David Kampf who didn’t change the puck’s direction as much as he changed the speed of the shot that was just out of the reach of Kahkonen.  3-2 Chicago.

The Blackhawks had another great chance as Brandon Saad turned and swung a backhand on goal that was denied by the leg of Kahkonen.  The GEEK line would create a nice opportunity off the rush as Greenway took a pass from Kunin to fire a shot that was held onto by Lehner.  The ZZ Top line would follow that up with some good time spent in the Chicago zone but Mats Zuccarello would trip up a Blackhawks player that wasn’t called but then just seconds after that Staal tripped up another Chicago player for a penalty.  Minnesota’s penalty killers did a decent job of working themselves into the shooting lanes but they were able to clear the zone.  A missed shot from Chicago finally cleared the zone and gave the Wild a chance to change up its penalty killers, and Kahkonen would bail them out with a few timely saves.  Minnesota would catch the Blackhawks sleeping a bit defensively as Fiala skating along the wall sent a puck towards the middle of the ice where it glanced off Olli Maatta‘s skate and by Lehner.  3-3 game.  The Wild’s 4th line would come close to giving Minnesota the go-ahead goal as Gerald Mayhew swept up a loose puck and he’d fire it just over the net.  The 4th line continued to win the battles for the loose pucks and they had Chicago scrambling before the puck finally trickled out of the Blackhawks’ zone.  Chicago certainly backed off as they were content to go into the 2nd intermission tied at 3-3.

3rd Period Thoughts:  The period would start off with both clubs looking focused and wanting to assert themselves offensively by overwhelming their opponents with superior numbers on the puck.  Time and space was in short supply.  Minnesota’s defense was helping hold the zone and working pucks in deep to keep Chicago bottled up in its own end.  Brennan Menell and Soucy were especially assertive in this role.  You just knew the next goal was going to be huge.  You could sense the anxiousness of the sellout Chicago crowd as both clubs were just waiting for some small mistake to exploit.  The pace of play certainly wasn’t as fast, as both clubs were probably pretty tried at this point which means a mental mistake / defensive breakdown is what they were waiting for.  Minnesota was trying to use its 4th line more to take advantage of some tired lanes from the higher lines.  Chicago nearly got its wish as Dach nearly cashed in from in close and a stop by Kahkonen and some strong play near the crease by the Wild’s defense kept the Blackhawks at bey.

Brodin would carry the puck up the ice where he’d set up Victor Rask for a shot from the slot that was gloved by Lehner.  After that excellent shift by the 4th line, the ZZ Top line went to work where Zuccarello nearly was able to tap a puck out of mid air for a goal.  The Blackhawks would counter attack and a deflected point shot would flutter up and Kahkonen was unable to track it as it fell to the back of the net.  4-3 Chicago.  Saad would be credited with the goal.  The Blackhawks were content to defend their lead as they sat back in a passive 1-2-2 neutral zone trap.  Kevin Fiala would turn on the jets and race into the Chicago zone, moving by a few Blackhawks defenders before firing a shot just wide of the goal.  Minnesota was activating its defense and looking to center pucks while Chicago was closing down around Lehner’s crease.  Chicago was working the puck deep in the Wild zone, forcing Minnesota to waste time defending in its own end.  Minnesota would pull Kahkonen for an extra attacker but Wild just couldn’t get set up in the offensive zone and it was Kane netting a hat trick with an empty net tally sealing a 5-3 Chicago victory.

Wild Notes:

~ The Wild roster tonight was as follows: Zach Parise, Eric Staal, Mats Zuccarello, Jason Zucker, Kevin Fiala, Jordan Greenway, Gerald Mayhew, Luke Kunin, Marcus Foligno, Victor Rask, Ryan Hartman, Ryan Suter, Matt Dumba, Jonas Brodin, Carson Soucy, Brad Hunt and Brennan Menell.  Alex Stalock backed up Kaapo Kahkonen.  Nick Seeler was the lone scratch.

~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star Patrick Kane, 2nd Star Kevin Fiala, 3rd Star Connor Murphy

~ Attendance was 21,513 at United Center.

~ Brennan Menell is wearing #61, he is the only player to have ever worn that number for the Minnesota Wild

Iowa Wild Report:

Record: (13-10-2)  30pts  2nd in the AHL Central

16% Power Play (19th in the AHL)

86.5% Penalty Kill (5th in the AHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #7 Sam Anas ~ 6G 15A = 21pts

2. #40 Gabriel Dumont ~ 8G 7A = 15pts

3. #42 Kyle Rau ~ 5G 10A = 15pts

4. #11 Nico Sturm ~ 6G 5A = 11pts

5. #14 Will Bitten ~ 3G 6A = 9pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #17 Mike Liambas ~ 46 PIM’s

2. #47 Louie Belpedio ~ 43 PIM’s

3. #44 Matt Bartkowski ~ 34 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #60 Mat Robson (5-7-3)  2.99GAA  .898%SP  1SO

2. #40 Dereck Baribeau (1-1-0)  3.18GAA  .875%SP

Recent Score: Iowa 4, Ontario 3 SO

Wild Prospect Report:

LW – Adam Beckman (Spokane, WHL) ~ the Saskatoon-native earned 1st star honors after a monster night on Saturday as he had a hat trick and two helpers on 10 shots on goal in Spokane’s 5-2 win over Seattle.  Beckman has 19 goals, 48 points, 6 PIM’s and is a +24 in 29 games.

C – Damien Giroux (Saginaw, OHL) ~ the Hanmer, Ontario-native had an assist and an empty net goal on 2 shots in the Spirit’s 5-3 win over Flint on Saturday.  He also went 3-for-6 on his draws.  Giroux has 20 goals, 32 points, 10 PIM’s and is an ‘even’ rating in 30 games.

RW – Shawn Boudrias (Cape Breton, QMJHL) ~ the big power forward had an assist on 3 shots with 3 registered hits in the Eagles’ 3-2 overtime loss to Charlottetown.  Boudrias has 19 goals, 38 points, 40 PIM’s and is +15 in 31 games.

F – Nikita Nesterenko (Chilliwack, BCHL) ~ the Boston College-commit had a goal and an assist in the Chiefs’ 6-4 win over Alberni Valley.  Nesterenko has 11 goals, 28 points, 21 PIM’s in 32 games.

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