Hawks win one for 'Q' due to Brouwer, Crawford

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Hawks win one for 'Q' due to Brouwer, Crawford

Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011
Posted 9:29 p.m. Updated 10:40 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks faced as much of a must-win situation on Wednesday as they ever have this season. To add more mental weight, coach Joel Quenneville was in the hospital instead of at his usual spot behind the bench.

The Blackhawks needed to be calm and focused against the Minnesota Wild, and acting coach Mike Haviland supplied the right message.

WATCH: Toews thinking of Coach Q

I just said, Hey, its time for us to make a stand here. We know we can do it in this room. We just cant wait for tomorrow.

It worked.

Troy Brouwer scored the game-winning goal in the third period, a power-play effort 34 seconds after the Wild had tied the game, and the Blackhawks took a 3-1 victory over Minnesota at the United Center. Brouwers goal came just 34 seconds after the Wild had tied the game at 1-1.

The victory snapped a two-game winless streak and gave the Blackhawks some solace on a day when Quenneville wasnt there.

There was no post-game update on Quenneville, who was hospitalized and in stable condition on Wednesday with an undisclosed illness. Quenneville went to the emergency room late Tuesday night with what team physician Dr. Michael Terry said was severe discomfort. Terry added that the health concern was not of cardiac nature.

Despite Quennevilles illness, the Blackhawks said they put it out of their mind at games start because they had no choice.

We left him out of it just because we didnt want too much of a distraction, especially coming into a huge game like tonight, said Brouwer. We wouldnt say we put our season on how the game was going to go tonight, but it had big relevance on where we feel our team is headed for the next 25 games.

Nevertheless, the Blackhawks played the first 10 minutes like they had their minds elsewhere. They were sloppy, struggling for zone time and scrambling. The Wild were relentless on the other end, outshooting the Blackhawks 11-2 midway through the first period. Corey Crawford, who stopped 33 of 34 on the night, was stoic through the first when the Wild also had two power plays.

He was making some huge stops. Especially early in the game, when we needed it most, he was there, said Jonathan Toews. When you have to kill a couple big penalties like that, it says a lot about your goaltender.

Brian Campbell gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead on his power-play goal about 13 minutes into the first. They got four power plays in the fourth but came up empty on all of them. Despite that, and Wild center Matt Cullens tying goal early in the third, the Blackhawks were confident in their game.

All standings and stats aside, we played a solid game and we carried it through, said Toews, who added that they kept Quenneville in mind. We just knew what we had to do and what Q would want us to do and thats work hard and compete and not change anything.

Just 34 seconds after the Wild tied it up Brouwer came through with his winner. Haviland said sending out that No. 2 power play, which has been hot lately, was assistant coach Mike Kitchens idea.

Kitch said to me, lets start Bolleys group instead of the other ones, Haviland said. Obviously Kitch was right on for that one.

The Blackhawks still have plenty of work to do. They had a lot on their minds today, with their head coach ailing. But come game time, they focused on what they could control.
Mike Haviland shouts instructions to the Blackhawks during the victory over the Wild on Wednesday. Blackhawks players presented Haviland with the game puck for earning his first career win as acting head coach and said his pregame speech really got them ready for the game. (AP)
Im sure (Quennevilles hospitalization) was in their heads. Thats a gutsy effort, our coach not being here, Haviland said. You can put a lot of things into it: the (recent lengthy) trip and youre battling for every inch, every point. We battled from the cage on out.

Kane better

Patrick Kane, who was sick with the flu and didnt skate the past two days, played just over 19 minutes. He had three shots on goal. Haviland said Kane was fine afterward.

I talked to him right after and he said he got better as the game went on, Haviland said. He said he felt winded early. Give him a lot of credit. He battled through not skating these last couple of days.

Briefly

Former Blackhawkscurrent Wild right wing Martin Havlat played in his 600th career game on Wednesday night.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Resilient Wild make statement with comeback win over Blackhawks

Resilient Wild make statement with comeback win over Blackhawks

The Minnesota Wild have been chasing the Blackhawks for a long time.

They may not be so far away now.

After falling behind 2-0, the Wild scored three unanswered goals to beat the Blackhawks 3-2 at the United Center on Sunday night, and moved into sole possession of first place in the Central Division and Western Conference with 61 points, and still have four games in hand.

But even the Wild had to remind themselves that they're on the same playing surface as the Blackhawks, who eliminated Minnesota from the playoffs for three consecutive seasons from 2013-15, two of which were en route to Stanley Cup wins.

"We were pretty slow," coach Bruce Boudreau said about the team's first period. "I thought we were in a little bit of quick sand. We watched them play. I think it was a little bit more [we were] in awe. It's the Chicago Blackhawks, we're supposed to be in awe."

When they snapped out of it, the Wild looked like the team that has become one of the NHL's best, having now won 17 of their last 19 games.

Wild nemesis Patrick Kane scored the game's first two goals, but Minnesota displayed the type of resiliency every contender needs by evening it up in the second period thanks to a power-play goal by Nino Neiderreiter — his third goal in as many games — and Chris Stewart, who found the back of the net for the second consecutive contest.

Jason Pominville, who hadn't scored in 19 straight games, registered the game-winner early in the third period to cap off a Wild victory. It's Minnesota's eighth straight win against Chicago, a feat that even its coach can't explain.

"To beat this team eight times in a row is really something," Boudreau said. "I don't understand how you could do it. I wish I would have had that knowledge a couple years ago. But it's a new year and it's just one in a row right now."

That's one of many reasons why the Wild have been so successful this season. They're taking it one game at a time, and no matter what the score is, they continue to play the same way and have the belief they can win any game.

Less than 24 hours before their win over the Blackhawks, the Wild jumped out to a 4-0 lead in Dallas and squandered it in the third period. They found a way to bounce back, however, to take home a 5-4 victory in regulation.

So, how do they keep doing it?

"I don't know," Boudreau responded. "We're supposed to. If you want to win, you've got to come back, right? You got to believe. I think the biggest thing is believing you can, and that's the first step. If you don't believe you can come back, you never come back. If you always believe there's a chance, there's a good chance you can do it."

Said Stewart: "I just think we're a confident bunch. We believe in ourselves. We know we didn't get the start that we wanted, but we got one to crawl back in it and all this team needs is a little bit of life."

There's no better measuring stick than to beat a team in your division that's won three championships since 2010, and has been powerhouses in the West for nearly a decade.

And it's something the Wild hope — and believe — they're in the process of achieving.

"It's always a big rival," Neiderreiter said. "You always want to beat the Hawks. They won a few Stanley Cup in the past few years, and that's something we want to accomplish someday. To do that, we have to make sure we beat top teams like that."

Five Things from Blackhawks-Wild: Start strong, finish fizzles

Five Things from Blackhawks-Wild: Start strong, finish fizzles

Well, that weekend didn't go as planned.

The Blackhawks played a lot better on Sunday night but suffered the same fate as Friday, coming away with no points and losing first place in the Western Conference in their 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild.

Let's dispense with the frivolities. Here are Five Things to take away from the Blackhawks' loss to Minnesota.

1. Strong start. The Blackhawks needed to come out strong in this one, mainly because their Friday game against the Washington Capitals was so bad but also because the Wild were coming off a frenzied 5-4 victory over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night. The Blackhawks got the appropriate start, outshooting the Wild 14-8 and leading 1-0 on Patrick Kane's goal. Speaking of which… 

2. Kane with the great evening. The Blackhawks dressing seven defensemen meant one thing: Kane was probably going to get a lot of ice time. That he did, double-shifting with the second and fourth lines in the first period and giving the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead with first- and second-period goals. Kane finished with a career-high 12 shots on goal in 27:09 of ice time. "You know you're going to play a lot. I don't know if [27] minutes is that amount you want to be playing, but at the same time, you're not going to say no when he calls you to go out there too," Kane said.

3. The Wild respond in the second. Minnesota didn't have the best start but they regained momentum and erased a deficit in the second period. It's not that their chances were that much better than the Blackhawks – it was a fairly even period in every way, from shots on goal (16-15 Blackhawks) to overall play. But coach Joel Quenneville didn't like how the Blackhawks played on Nino Niederreiter or Chris Stewart's goals, calling the mistakes made on them, "cardinal sins."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. Quiet night for the top line. Outside of Marian Hossa, the Blackhawks' top line didn't do much on Sunday night. Hossa had two shots on goal. Jonathan Toews had none, as it was another too-quiet night for the Blackhawks' captain. 

5. Minnesota keeps the rivalry edge. Remember those three consecutive springs in which the Blackhawks dispatched the Wild? Well, the past two seasons may not be equal in payback terms but the Wild are nevertheless tilting the rivalry – at least in regular-season games – in their favor. The Wild won all five games last season and took the first of this season, as well. Minnesota made some good offseason moves, including acquiring Eric Staal in July. Full marks to the Wild: right now, they are the cream of the Western Conference crop.