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Hawks fall in shootout, suffer first loss of season

Andrew Shaw Josh Harding Bryan Bickell

Andrew Shaw, Josh Harding, Bryan Bickell

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Updated: March 2, 2013 11:53AM



ST. PAUL, Minn. — Staring down a six-game road trip, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville echoed winger Marian Hossa’s statement a day earlier — a franchise-record 6-0 start is nice, but they won’t know exactly what they have until this stretch is done.

Well, one game in to the daunting Ice Show trip, we know this much about the Hawks — they’re not unbeatable.

Chicago suffered its first loss of the season Wednesday night, 3-2 in a shootout to the Minnesota Wild. Patrick Sharp had to score on the Hawks’ third try of the shootout to keep it going, but he rang it off the crossbar, dropping the Hawks to 6-0-1. The Hawks had won two of their last three in overtime.

“Those are the tight games that the last three or four games, we found a way to win,” Jonathan Toews said. “We were this close again.”

The Hawks at least earned a point on the strength of its near-perfect penalty-killing unit, which gave up no goals in four power plays — including a 1:23 5-on-3 in the first period and a Sharp penalty in the final two minutes of regulation.

“It’s been huge for us, but No. 1 we’d like to stay out of the box a little more,” Toews said. “But if we happen to be going to the box every once in a while, we’ve got a lot of confidence that if the game is on the line, we can get the job done.”

It looked early on like the Hawks’ offensive roll would continue, rallying from an early Matt Cullen goal with two goals in a 91-second span, by Andrew Shaw and Jonathan Toews. But after Toews beat Josh Harding with a soft shot from a sharp angle, Minnesota coach Mike Yeo yanked Harding and replaced him with Backstrom. Harding stormed into the dressing room, slamming his stick against the wall of the tunnel along the way. It’s the second time the Hawks have sent a goaltender into a stick-smashing frenzy, as Phoenix’s Mike Smith did it, too.

But while the Hawks made Harding look silly, Backstrom made the Hawks look human, stopping all 28 shots he faced, including a combined 17 in the third period and overtime, as the Hawks — finally rested after two days off — dominated play.

Corey Crawford was sharp again for the Hawks, stopping 23 shots. But his biggest one came during the biggest sequence of regulation. After Michael Frolik — one of Chicago’s top penalty-killers — went off for boarding, Minnesota had a 1:23 of a 5-on-3 advantage late in the first. But Johnny Oduya blocked a couple shots, and Crawford made a spectacular save, leaping to his right for a diving stop on Pierre-Marc Bouchard.

But the Wild again put up a quick goal — this one 59 seconds into the second period — when Cal Clutterbuck’s redirection got past Crawford.

From there, the goaltenders took over, particularly Backstrom — who got a little help from the crossbar at the end.

“You go to a shootout, anything can happen,” Quenneville said. “There are some good things to take out of it. It’s disappointing not to get the win, but let’s get excited to get back in the ‘W’ column.”



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