There are a few wrinkles in the Chicago Blackhawks’ game that weren’t there last season. One is their discipline, or lack thereof. The other is their giving up power-play goals quickly.
And on Saturday, both were present again.
Bryan Bickell scored his fourth goal in as many games, but the Blackhawks had an otherwise forgettable night in a 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild at the United Center. It was the Blackhawks’ second regulation loss of the season, snapping a seven-game point streak.
The Blackhawks only allowed one power-play goal to the Wild. But it came off another lost faceoff, just five seconds into the advantage, with Zach Parise giving Minnesota the early lead. But their recent habit of taking too many penalties continued, putting them shorthanded more often than they would’ve liked.
“Our penalty kill isn’t even close to where we want it. It’s cost us points and cost us games,” said Marcus Kruger. “We know what to do. We know the system. I don’t know why it still happens and we don’t do what we’re supposed to do. I’m a big part of that. I don’t know. Maybe get back to basics, I think.”
The Wild scoring right off the faceoff irked coach Joel Quenneville.
“I don’t know how many goals (teams) have scored right off the faceoff. Bingo, bango, in your net, right off the bat,” he said. “They get the lead and a decent start.”
Jason Pominville scored twice for the Wild, who capitalized when the Blackhawks got sloppy and got to Corey Crawford five times on 25 shots. Niklas Backstrom, who’s coming off a knee injury, looked strong in stopping 33 of 36.
There was an odd second-period moment when the Blackhawks were credited with a goal on the ice, but it was eventually disallowed. Jeremy Morin fired a shot that bounced off Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom and flew up in the air. Andrew Shaw deflected it with a high stick before it hit Clayton Stoner and, with Stoner, went into the net. It was negated after a lengthy video review, referee Kelly Sutherland announcing that Shaw’s “high stick was above the bar, there was no possession or control by Minnesota, therefore, no goal.”
“It certainly put everybody to sleep in the building. That’s the longest review I’ve ever seen. It was a tough call. Looked like we had the goal. But we scored right after that so we still had the momentum at that point.”
That score came from Bickell, who turned and fired past Backstrom for his fourth in as many games. But whatever the Blackhawks gained off that and the 1:53 of a 5-on-3 Wild power play that they killed off, they lost with mistakes and penalties.
“I took a really stupid one today. That can’t happen,” Kruger said. “That’s something we want to get rid of and maybe that’s some frustration there. That’s why things like that happen. When you’re rolling that doesn’t happen.”
The Blackhawks aren’t rolling right now so much as sputtering in a few departments. It hasn’t cost the a lot of points lately, but they’ve nevertheless given up a lot of goals in their past two games. That’s not their style.
“We know we want to be better than that,” Jonathan Toews said. “That’s two games in a row that we gave up five goals or more. It’s one thing that people are talking about us not scoring but sometimes you don’t need to score that many to win if you’re playing good defensively. We had breakdowns, we had turnovers inside our zone, we had miscommunications and some penalties that we shouldn’t have taken.”
The Blackhawks will get another chance at the Wild in Minnesota on Monday night. They’ll take lessons from this one and regroup. They’re doing some uncharacteristic things right now, and it cost them tonight.
“We had a lot of opportunities on the power play, some good looks. Unfortunately they didn’t go in,” Bickell said. “It was an up and down game a roller-coaster game. But tomorrow’s another day. We go there and we need to be better.”