ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Patrick Sharp and Corey Crawford will deservedly receive plenty of recognition for their individual performances in the Chicago Blackhawks' 3-0 win over the Minnesota in Game 4 on Tuesday.
Sharp scored the goals, and Crawford stopped them.
But while Sharp and Crawford’s performances will be celebrated, 11 Blackhawks will likely go unnoticed -- at least by their individual names -- for their major contribution to Tuesday’s win. Those 11 Blackhawks comprise the team’s penalty-kill unit.
On Tuesday, the Blackhawks’ Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger, Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad, Michal Handzus, Johnny Oduya, Michal Rozsival, Marian Hossa, Michael Frolik and Brent Seabrook all assisted to hold the Wild scoreless on six power-play chances. The penalty kill hasn’t allowed a goal in 15 power plays in the series.
“I think our penalty killing has been huge,” Keith said. “We’re going to need it that way. All year long, it’s been a staple of our team. I know our power play isn’t exactly firing on all cylinders, but you look around the league and there’s not every team that has a power play that is firing as good as they want either. I think our penalty kill has been huge for us in that regard, too.”
Keith led the Blackhawks in ice time on the penalty kill. He played 7:29 and was followed by Hjalmarsson (7:21), Kruger (6:51), Frolik (5:33), Toews (5:26), Seabrook (4:52), Hossa (3:43), Oduya (3:14), Saad (1:18), Rozsival (1:04) and Handzus (0:59).
The Blackhawks’ penalty kill was especially put to the test early in third period. Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane was sent to the box for delay of game at 1:06 to give the Wild their fifth power play of the night. Just as the Blackhawks killed that one, Saad was called for tripping and the Wild went back on the power play. But as the Blackhawks have done all series, they denied the Wild, who finished with seven shots on goals on the power play.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had high praise for his penalty kill again on Tuesday.
“I think this year our penalty killing is one of our strengths as well,” Quenneville said. “Let’s continue to do the right things and stick together and move together as a unit. That’s something we’ve been pretty happy about the way it’s been all year.