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Postgame Hat Trick: Blackhawks 4, Wild 2

Early deficit proves too much as Chicago wins final regular season matchup against Minnesota

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Wild stalled by Blackhawks, 4-2

MIN Recap: Granlund scores as Wild fall to Hawks, 4-2

Mikael Granlund and Eric Staal each scored, but Corey Crawford stopped 42 of the Wild's 44 shots on goal as Minnesota fell 4-2 in Chicago

  • 04:20 •

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 4-2 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center in Chicago on Sunday afternoon:

1. After a rare morning start time on a day when the clocks sprung forward an hour, Chicago pounced on Minnesota (43-18-6) early.

Just 51 seconds in, Patrick Kane made it 1-0 after the puck deflected off a body in front and landed right on Kane's tape. 

Less than four minutes later, it was 2-0 when Kane connected on a pass to linemate Artemi Panarin for a big slap shot. 

"We just made some mistakes. Lost coverage it looked like on the first one and obviously the wrong guy to leave open," said Wild forward Eric Staal. "Second one, we just weren't as tight through the neutral zone as we normally are and they have some skilled players that can make plays."

Just 4:38 into the game, Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk was summoned to the bench after allowing two goals on two shots. Darcy Kuemper, making his 100th NHL appearance entered.

"You follow a goalie for [67] games, you sort of know his traits and his trends," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "He didn't look like he was following the puck well. I just thought he didn't have it tonight."

Tweet from @mnwild: #mnwild head coach Bruce Boudreau addresses media following #MINvsCHI. pic.twitter.com/ZEB9Ydm0n1

 Boudreau's move to replace Dubnyk with Kuemper seemed to light a fire under the bench. The Wild came back strong (more below), but the early deficit put Minnesota in a hole it couldn't dig out of.

"I think we'd like to give ourselves a better chance. We spotted them two goals again. The last couple times playing them, they've built that lead and when you're playing from behind, no matter who it's against, it's tougher," Staal said "But after that, we definitely created more of the grade-As. We gotta find a way to capitalize and bury a few of those. If we did, I felt like it would have been a lot more lopsided the other way."

2. Staal stayed hot, scoring a huge goal for the Wild midway through the first period.

The less-than-ideal start on the scoreboard took away the shine from what was otherwise a pretty good period. Minnesota outshot Chicago 13-7 in the first and after the second goal, the Wild controlled puck possession.

Video: MIN@CHI: Staal pounces on the rebound for the Wild

After Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made a series of saves to keep the Wild off the board, Staal finally broke through when he poked a loose puck near the crease through Crawford's wickets and into the goal.

"[Kuemper] went in there and made some good saves, we battled back," Staal said. "If we would have finished on all the looks we had, we would have put ourselves in a better spot, but we weren't able to do it."

Staal's goal was his fifth goal over the past five games, and tied him with Mikael Granlund for the team lead until ...

3. ... Granlund's beautiful goal 46 seconds into the final period, one that will likely appear on all the highlight shows Sunday evening.

With his team trailing by a deuce after 40 minutes, Granlund single-handedly got the Wild back in the game. After Blackhawks forward Nick Schmaltz played hot potato with the puck near the left-wing boards at center, Granlund came off the bench, poked the puck away from Schmaltz and chased it down inside his own blue line.

The lefty worked the puck from his backhand to his forehand and quickly rifled a shot top left corner from the right face-off dot for his 23rd goal of the season.

Video: MIN@CHI: Granlund goes backhand-forehand and scores

"We felt like we were right there for a lot of the second and at the start of the third, you get a big goal like that right off the bat, it provides life and gives you a one-shot chance," Staal said. "I think we had a couple of other grade-As where he got lucky on a couple saves and a couple of good saves as well to keep it at one."

The goal kickstarted another strong period of puck possession for the Wild, but Crawford -- and the posts behind him -- were the difference. The Hawks goaltender finished with 42 saves, and both Jason Zucker and Charlie Coyle rang pipes on the afternoon.

Crawford's biggest save of the afternoon came with 13 minutes left when Zach Parise banked a perfect pass off the left-side wall and sprung Erik Haula for a breakaway. Haula appeared try five hole, but Crawford closed the door.

Six minutes later, Marian Hossa got a breakaway of his own and rocketed a slap shot past Kuemper to re-establish the two-goal lead.

"There are times when we were playing great," Haula said. "[The Blackhawks], if we give them Grade As, it's in the back of the net. My chance 3-2 game, breakaway, that's got to be a goal. Especially against these guys. When they get those chances it's always in the net. I've just got to bury that."

The 44 shots on goal were the most against Chicago this season.

Video: Locker Room Postgame at Chicago


Loose pucks

Martin Hanzal was a late scratch because of illness.

Nino Niederreiter and Marco Scandella earned assists on Staal's goal.

• Kane and Panarin each had one goal and one assist.

• Trevor van Riemsdyk had a second-period goal for Chicago to make it 3-1.

• Kuemper finished with 18 saves on 20 shots.

• Minnesota killed all three Chicago power plays.

• Coyle and Jason Pominville led all shooters with six shots apiece. Kane accounted for five of the Blackhawks' 22 shots.

• Chicago pulled to within one point of the Wild for first place in the Central Division. Minnesota has one game in hand.

• Attendance: 22,147 (season high at United Center)


He said it

"They're definitely good at capitalizing on their chances. They're patient and they make good plays. As a goaltender, they have a lot of players that are tough to play against, and that's why they've been so good for so long." -- Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper


They said it

"That was a big game for us. After two losses, coming back against one of the best teams in the league, some big points for us there. It's like a four-point game." -- Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford


Dan's three stars

* Corey Crawford

** Patrick Kane

*** Mikael Granlund

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