Sharp Sparks Blackhawks To 5-1 Win Over Wild
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Chicago Blackhawks have high standards. Two Stanley Cup championships in a four-year span will create that.
So their 7-2-3 start to the season is hardly a cause for satisfaction. This payback victory over the Minnesota Wild, at least, provided some reassurance.
Patrick Sharp finally scored, Nick Leddy jump-started the stagnant special teams units with a power-play goal and the Blackhawks beat the Wild 5-1 on Monday night.
After giving up 11 goals while losing their previous two games, the Blackhawks played tougher defense, were more disciplined and paid the Wild back for their 5-3 win on Saturday night in Chicago.
Corey Crawford made 29 saves, and Sheldon Brookbank, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad all scored to give the Blackhawks just their third game of more than three goals in 12 contests this season.
The Wild were actually in control of the first period despite falling behind early. Then Jason Pominville got a goal, his third in two games, to tie it at 1 midway through the second period. But Niklas Backstrom never found his footing in the net.
After making 33 saves against the Blackhawks two days before, his first start following a seven-game absence because of a lower-body injury, Backstrom stopped only 23 shots. Coach Mike Yeo refused to criticize the veteran’s performance, but he wasn’t nearly as strong in the rematch.
Marian Hossa caught Backstrom looking the wrong way behind the net and fed Sharp for a snap shot from just outside the crease over Backstrom’s opposite shoulder late in the first period. This was just Sharp’s second goal of the season. He was quiet last season, too, returning from injury to find his rhythm in the playoffs.
Late in the second period, Backstrom turned aside Leddy’s shot, but Kane beat him to the rebound and circled the puck around to the other side where Brookbank was waiting for a slap shot.
Backstrom collided with rookie defenseman Matthew Dumba as he was trying to climb up and reposition himself in the crease.
Then in the third period, Saad scooted past Dumba on a rush to draw Ryan Suter over in coverage. Saad then pivoted to flick a perfect drop pass to Kane, who skated in front of Dumba to tap in an easy goal and give the Blackhawks a 4-1 lead.
The Wild must now decide whether to keep Dumba, their 2012 first-round draft pick, or return him to his junior team.
The power play has been only so-so, and the penalty kill has been a bigger early season problem for the Blackhawks, who entered the night last in the NHL with a success rate of only 72.2 percent. They killed all three opportunities on this night.
The Wild fell to 4-1-2 at home this season. They gave up four goals in standard 5-on-5 situations, more than one-third of their league-best total this season. They have allowed 11 in 13 games.
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