The Minnesota Wild took to the ice on fire against the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday night, scoring within 90 seconds of the puck drop. The relentless physical demand brought out the best of both teams, ending in a shootout and a Wild victory 3-2.
This is the first Blackhawks defeat of the season, ending their winning streak at 6 games.
Wild center Matt Cullen tallied the first point of the night, sparking a high speed matchup and a quick response by the Blackhawks in Andrew Shaw to make it 1-1 early in the first period.
Jonathan Toews scored the second and last goal for the Blackhawks just over a minute after Shaw’s first of the season, leaving the score at 2-1 Blackhawks going into the second.
Goalkeeper Josh Harding was immediately pulled from the net after allowing 2 in 4 goals, and replaced by Niklas Backstrom.
It was MIN Cal Clutterbuck’s wrist shot goal that tied things up again only a minute into the period, which would carry through to the end of the third when the two teams went to OT.
The Blackhawks trailed in SOG only in the first, Crawford going 20 for 22 saves through overtime and Backstrom standing firm allowing no goals with 25 saves.
It was also a big night for special teams, with the Blackhawks fighting their way through 4 penalty kills. Chicago is second in PK strength only to Boston with a 96.3 PK%, giving up no PKs on the road.
For all their efforts, neither team could connect with the back of the net in overtime, taking the fate of the game to the shootout where Cullen would make the shot to win it all.
The Wild and the Blackhawks both rose to the occasion, neither were able to drive to the net as much as they might have hoped, but fantastic efforts by both goaltenders brought it all down to a shootout where anything can happen.
This victory is the fourth of the season for the young Wild, and a much needed boost after three losses in a row.
Final score: Blackhawks 2, Wild 3
CHI goals: Shaw, Toews
MIN goals: Cullen, Clutterbuck
3) Corey Crawford
2) Matt Cullen
1) Niklas Backstrom
Next game: Fri 2/1 @ VAN, 9:00pm CST
(This post appeared previously on thecheckingline.com)