by Scott King
Sunday morning’s 11:30 a.m. start at the United Center may have been an early one for the Chicago Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild, but the Windy City had already celebrated the staples of its annual St. Patrick’s Day traditions.
The bagpipes already played in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the river was already dyed green. The Hawks even sported green warmup jerseys to auction off for charity and gave away green hats to fans taking in the game.
The Blackhawks would certainly welcome all the luck of the Irish they could get, as they were looking to close in on the first place Wild’s three-point lead over the Hawks in the Western conference. Minnesota also has one game in hand on Chicago.
Chicago was also looking to get back on track after having a seven-game winning streak snapped vs. the Ducks on Thursday and losing again in Detroit on Friday.
Superstar winger Patrick Kane felt the Hawks got a lift from the season-high attendance of 22,147 at the UC despite the early start, in addition to springing an hour forward for Daylight Savings Time.
“Sometimes these afternoon games are a little bit slower start, I didn’t think that was the case at all,” Kane said. “I thought the crowd was into it right away. When you’re playing a good opponent like Minnesota, a team that you’re chasing, it did have that playoff type feel.”
51 seconds into the game Kane scored to put the Hawks ahead 1-0. It was his 30th goal of the season. Artemi Panarin and Johnny Oduya were credited with assists. It was Oduya’s first point since rejoining the Blackhawks.
Artemi Panarin scored on a Patrick Kane feed at 4:38 also in the first period to chase Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk from the game after just two Hawks’ shots. Darcy Kuemper stepped in to man the Wild’s goal.
“Two good shifts later and you end up with a nice lead,” said Kane of the Hawks’ quick two-goals. “It was a good start, for sure.
“We knew we needed to have this one. I think if you looked at our game, you ask anyone in this room, we probably feel we could play a lot better. So give the credit to Crow, he played an unbelievable game. We want to play better against those guys, but none the less, we’ll take the points.”
Eric Staal scored near the halfway point in the first period to get Minnesota on the board, making it 2-1 Hawks.
At 5:28 in the second period, Trevor van Riemsdyk scored on a two-on-one with Jordin Tootoo to make it 3-1 in favor of the Hawks. The defenseman has two goals in his last two games.
Hawks forward Nick Schmaltz turned the puck over 46 seconds into the second period resulting in a Mikael Granlund goal brining the Wild within one early in the third period.
Marian Hossa scored at 13:42 in the third period on a breakaway to make the final score 4-2 Blackhawks. Corey Crawford made 42 saves in the contest.
The Hawks won the regular season series with the Wild going 3-1-0.
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