Wild drops second game in a row, losing 3-1 at Chicago
CHICAGO – Bouncing back from losses had been a trademark of the Wild during the first month-and-a-half of the season since the team didn’t drop two in a row in regulation through 20 games.
But that resiliency apparently didn’t make the trip to Chicago, as the Wild went pointless for a second straight game for the first time after slipping up 3-1 to the Blackhawks on Sunday at United Center — its third setback in the past four games.
It was also the first time the team fell in the second half of a back-to-back, falling to 4-1 in that situation.
After failing to protect a two-goal lead the night before en route to a 3-2 loss to the Sabres on Saturday at Xcel Energy Center, the Wild couldn’t orchestrate a rally by the same margin against the Blackhawks — not when goalie Corey Crawford was almost airtight, pocketing 39 saves, and Chicago’s offensive leaders were active.
Blackhawks center Dominik Kahun scored an empty-net goal with a minute remaining to thwart the final Wild comeback attempt.
The Blackhawks scored twice in the first period.
Captain Jonathan Toews opened the scoring 8 minutes, 26 seconds into the frame on the power play, finishing off a Patrick Kane feed with a redirect after getting left alone at the back post. It was the team’s lone power-play goal in three chances.
The goal was Toews’ 10th and Kane’s team-leading 24th point.
With 2:31 to go in the first, Chicago doubled its cushion when winger Brandon Saad jumped on a rolling puck in the Wild’s zone and slid the puck around backup goalie Alex Stalock after Stalock unsuccessfully attempted to poke-check the puck off Saad.
In the second, the Wild received its first look with the man advantage and it capitalized.
Set up in front of the net as the screen, winger Zach Parise deflected in a Mikko Koivu pass at 7:56.
The assist extended Koivu’s point streak to four games, a span in which he has seven points. Since Nov. 6, Koivu leads the NHL in assists (10) and is tied for the most points with 12.
Defenseman Matt Dumba had the other helper on the play to also push his point streak to four games, a season-high for him.
What’s more, the goal was the fifth from the power play in the last four games — a season-long run. The unit finished the game 1-for-3.
Parise’s goal only seemed to spark the Wild, as the team came close to tying it on a handful of occasions.
Center Eric Staal had a couple solid looks on the same shift near the end of the period, going wide with a backhand before again missing the net. Dumba also had a one-timer sail off-target.
By the end of the period, the Wild racked up 15 shots compared to just seven for the Blackhawks.
But the team’s push wasn’t at full strength for the entire third.
Winger Marcus Foligno blocked a Brent Seabrook shot around the seven-minute mark, appearing to get hit on the outside of the right knee.
Foligno struggled to get to his feet, crawling on the ice at one point before he was helped to the bench and down the tunnel away from the ice.
Still, the Wild pursed a second goal the rest of the way — with Staal hitting the post in the waning minutes — but its bid fell short.
Stalock totaled 25 saves, nixing his three-game win streak.