Chicago Blackhawks offense stifled in 2-1 loss to the Wild - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Blackhawks offense stifled in 2-1 loss to the Wild

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

On Thursday night the Chicago Blackhawks faced another team that was engaged and desperate for a win. In the end the Minnesota Wild deserved two points and the Hawks were hung with a 2-1 loss. Chicago has now lost three of four this season versus Minnesota.

The Blackhawks faced an injury riddled Wild in last year's opening round of the playoffs and took full advantage. There is a lot of hockey left but it wouldn't be a shock if Chicago and Minnesota squared off again in the first round. This time the Wild might not be an easy out.

Minnesota could be a playoff sleeper as they have been getting good goaltending and can win tight checking games. What should be noted is the Wild will have about $5 million in salary cap space at the March 5 trade deadline. If their GM Chuck Fletcher could acquire a couple of solid additions they should be a formidable playoff foe.

The Wild followed a perfect script Thursday night as they got a two goal opening period lead and were able to protect it. Antti Raanta started in net and wasn't to blame although he gave up a weak goal at a bad time.

Realistically, a back-up goalie will give up a soft goal at times. Someone like Raanta who has had limited AHL experience shouldn't be looked upon to pitch a shutout to be able to win.

The Wild scored first, then Brent Seabrook and Patrick Sharp were whistled for cross checking. The Chicago penalty killing unit has been better of late and they weathered that storm. The winning goal came a short time later as Raanta let in a softy and the Wild led by two. The penalty killing unit did not contribute to the loss as Minnesota was 0-4 with the man advantage.
 
The Wild can resemble the Nashville Predators, and can be difficult to catch when they have a lead. Their goalie, Darcy Kuemper, played a good game but the Blackhawks didn't make his job very difficult until the late going.

Patrick Kane ruined the shutout with 32-seconds left in the third frame but it was too little too late. The shots on goal favored Chicago 34-19 but this wasn't a game in which Kuemper stole two points. Often when a team falls behind by two goals early they will record more shots and still lose the game.

The Hawks were without Duncan Keith, who was out with flu-like symptoms. That didn't help the Chicago cause but this was a team loss as the Wild played a more effective game.

Joel Quenneville will have a few days to rally his troops before they face Winnipeg on Sunday at the United Center. As Quenneville often says his club will need to get excited about the challenge of their next opponent.

Sunday will be the last time the Hawks play at the UC until March. After facing the Jets, they will play seven consecutive road games.

It's the dog days of the season and maybe the challenge of an upcoming string of road contests is what the Hawks need to regain focus.

Al's Shots

For the second consecutive game Bryan Bickell recorded the lowest time on ice of any player. Bickell played only 11 shifts which accounted for 8:11 of playing time.

Kris Versteeg had the next lowest ice time total as he played only 8:55.

Michal Handzus, and Bickell were both a -1 on the night.

Jonathan Toews was held scoreless and had just one shot on goal. Toews also struggled in the faceoff circle (41%).

You can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia and I will be back on Monday morning.

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