After going winless in their last four games, in addition to blowing a three-goal lead in the third period against St. Louis the night before, the Blackhawks gained a much-needed victory against the Minnesota Wild last night at the United Center. With regulars such as Duncan Keith, Drake Caggiula, Andrew Shaw, and Calvin de Haan still injured, the Blackhawks needed their remaining big guns to step up when they needed it most.
Enter Patrick Kane, who kicked off the scoring 7:42 into the game by scoring on a wrap-around which would require a booth review. At first glance, it appeared that Wild goalie Kaapo Kahkonen stymied Kane’s attempt with a left-pad save, but Kahkonen’s pad was behind the goal line. Less than four minutes later, Kane would strike again on the power play, wiring a shot which deflected off of Wild defenseman Ryan Suter’s stick. Kane would eventually complete his 8th career hat trick with an empty-net goal late in the third period to seal the Hawks’ victory, but not without some drama.
His most unique hat trick to date?
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) December 16, 2019
Wild forward Eric Staal would register his 1,000th NHL point after blasting a one-timer past Robin Lehner on the power play to cut the deficit in half. The 35-year-old became the 89th player in NHL history to reach the milestone, having played for the Carolina Hurricanes, the New York Rangers, and the Minnesota Wild.
Minnesota’s Kevin Fiala would tie the game early in the second on a turnover by Patrick Kane. After Suter blocked Kane’s shot attempt from the blue line, the puck perfectly deflected to a streaking Fiala, who finished the breakaway by wristing his shot over Lehner’s right pad. Hawks forward David Kampf would break the tie midway through the second with a beautiful deflection off a shot by defenseman Connor Murphy, but Fiala would once again tie the game with a fluky goal that caromed off of Blackhawk Olli Maatta’s skate.
With six minutes left in the third period, Brandon Saad would break the 3-3 logjam after a terrific play by captain Jonathan Toews. As Erik Gustafsson’s shot ricocheted off the back-boards, Toews won a puck battle by shouldering Minnesota’s Brad Hunt. Toews then chipped the puck over Wild forward Marcus Foligno’s stick to Connor Murphy, whose shot was deflected by Saad. The hats would rain soon after, as Kane added his empty-net goal with just over one minute remaining in the game.
WOWOWOWOW. The ole up-and-over to give the #Blackhawks the lead!
— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) December 16, 2019
The win was the first for the Blackhawks since December 6th, when they defeated the New Jersey Devils in a shootout 2-1. After going 0-3 on their road trip, the Hawks find themselves with a 3-4-1 record midway through the month. Their next three games will be against divisional opponents, with a home-and-home series against the Colorado Avalanche, separated by a meeting in Winnipeg with the Jets. It will be the second home-and-home series between the Hawks and Colorado this season, as Colorado dominated the Hawks in both games their first go-around.
“We want to be more consistent, there’s no question about that,” Hawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We’re not where we want to be, no one’s satisfied. I think the emphasis needs to continue to be on getting better everyday. We have a lot of young players and that’s got to be the focus — just make sure we’re improving all the time.”