ST.PAUL, Minn. -- The Chicago Blackhawks are doing so well that even their much maligned penalty killers took center stage in a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center on Monday night.
With the momentum squarely in the Wild’s favor and the Blackhawks clinging to a one-goal lead, the Hawks killed three third-period Wild power plays and added a killer shorthanded goal to ice the game.
“We needed that for sure,” Jonathan Toews said. “We wanted to stay out of the box in the third but we did what we had to do and killed some penalties off to hold onto the lead.”
Toews had another monster game, capped off by an assist on a shorthanded score by Marian Hossa with 1:52 remaining in the contest.
“It was huge, especially coming off last night’s game where [the Coyotes] scored a few on their power play,” Tomas Kopecky said. “Our penalty kill was really good and that shorthanded goal was kind of the [nail] in the coffin.”
The Hawks have won a season-high five in a row and if their penalty killing -- which will get a boost from newly acquired defenseman Chris Campoli -- can continue to raise its game, watch out.
“We did some good things on the kill,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I thought we had a little bit more aggression in the areas there.”
Even better, they did it without their best shot blocker getting any shorthanded ice time. Niklas Hjalmarsson is nursing an injury, so the Hawks were playing it safe. Nick Leddy and Brian Campbell, not exactly known for their penalty-kill prowess, picked up some slack and Toews and Hossa did the rest with their shorthanded thriller.
When the defender was down and out, Toews smelled blood in the water and took off with the puck.
“They were just trying to keep the puck in there and no one was helping that guy out at the blue line, so nice finish by Hossa,” Toews said. “Nice to get an insurance goal like that.”
Minnesota got back in the game with two 5-on-5 scores, but when the Hawks were down a man, they took the momentum back three different times, and it helped lead them to victory.