It was their first game without either Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews since what seems like forever (seven seasons, actually), but the Chicago Blackhawks beat a determined Minnesota Wild team to stay on track heading into the playoffs. The 3-2 shootout win ended a three-game losing streak and just as importantly, may have shown the Blackhawks that they can indeed win without their biggest stars.
The Hawks were solid even without their two superstars. In fact, it felt a little strange without the two on the ice, but it was still a good win. That said, there may have been some roster confusion. Teuvo Teravainen was sat in favor of Joakim Nordstrom, although it’s likely that Teravainen will play tomorrow against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Still, Nordstrom was impressive, as was fellow Swede David Rundblad. Continuing our Swedish tour, one has to feel bad for Niklas Hjalmarsson, who had to deal with both goals going through his leg or bouncing off his stick. The rest of the defense was also impressive, but the Wild are one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league. Of course, Corey Crawford, being the guy who gets all the blame in a loss, was impressive, especially in the shootout.
Other players who deserve credit include Jeremy Morin and Brandon Saad — The former for the assist on the second goal, and the latter for playing out of his mind despite not scoring.
The Hawks needed this win for a variety of reasons. Head coach Joel Quenneville deserves some credit for keeping the team focused on the near future and not letting the lack of their superstars get to them. The Hawks still have a chance for home-ice advantage. Even if they’re not focusing on that, their calm demeanor delivered a much-needed win.