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Thursday, January 23, 2014
No Keith, little rest a bad combo for Hawks

By Brian M. Murphy
Special to ESPNChicago.com

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Already travel-weary Thursday in their second road game in two nights, the Chicago Blackhawks found themselves without top defenseman Duncan Keith, who was sidelined against the Minnesota Wild because of illness.

Keith’s absence, his first in 53 games this season, combined with a listless offensive performance to doom Chicago to a 2-1 loss.

Raanta
Antti Raanta, making his first start since Jan. 3, allowed two goals on 17 shots against Minnesota.
Coach Joel Quenneville does not expect Keith’s illness to affect him when the team returns home, nor was he willing to lament the loss of the Blackhawks’ fourth-highest scorer and leading minutes-muncher against the conservative Wild.

"We didn’t give up a ton [of scoring chances], but they weren’t looking to generate much," he said. "I thought our defense was OK, but I thought our whole game was just OK. I don’t think anybody jumped off the table where you could say they had a great game tonight."

After playing overtime and a six-round shootout the previous night in Detroit, the Blackhawks did not check into their St. Paul, Minn., hotel until about 3 a.m. Thursday and were noticeably sluggish, especially in the opening period.

They were outshot 10-6, outhit 6-1 and ultimately outscored 2-0.

Jason Pominville converted a nifty three-way scoring play with Mikael Granlund and Dany Heatley at 8 minutes, 8 seconds. Later, Matt Cooke dribbled a shot through backup goalie Antti Raanta, who started in place of Corey Crawford following an 11-day layoff.

"The second one was too easy," groused Raanta, whose record slipped to 12-2-3. "When you give two goals in the first period and you’re behind all the time, it’s much harder to play because Minnesota’s defense is so good. Every goal counts, and today there was one easy one."

Raanta was late moving left to right across his crease when Cooke snuck the puck between his left arm and body.

"The second goal is still inside the head … so try to get some better way to move your ass and be in the right place on the right side," he said.

Patrick Kane scored with an extra attacker on the ice and 31.2 seconds remaining to end an 11-game goal drought, his longest since 2008-09. But Chicago could not push the equalizer past Wild rookie goalie Darcy Kuemper, who made 33 saves.