Not very pretty, but Blackhawks defeat Wild in shootout - FOX 32 News Chicago

Not very pretty, but Blackhawks defeat Wild in shootout

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Blackhawks beat Minnesota in a shootout 3-2 in a game that wasn't fun to watch. With injuries to Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Michal Rozsival and a late scratch to Johnny Oduya, the Hawks gutted their way to victory. It wasn't pretty but at this point don't expect a scintillating viewing experience.

It hasn't happened often but on Thursday night the Blackhawks managed to win in a shootout. The Hawks still haven't won in overtime this season and with the win over the Wild they have recorded a 12-12-3 record versus the Central Division. The combination of not winning a game in OT and not doing well against their own division are big reasons why they will likely open the playoffs on the road.

Colorado has played well and are getting breaks so they should finish ahead of Chicago.

On Tuesday the Av's beat Columbus 3-2 in OT and all three goals went in off of Blue Jacket players. Last night versus the Rangers they scored with eight seconds left in the third period and then won in a shootout. The Rangers failed to clear the zone as Colorado scored on another shot that appeared to be deflected and went through a maze of players.

So when the dust settled on Thursday the Hawks could only keep pace with the Av's and still trail them by three points with only five games remaining. It isn't impossible to overtake Colorado but it is very unlikely. The Hawks lose the tiebreaker if the clubs finish with the same amount of points, and the Av's have a game in hand.

Last night was a rare occurrence as Kane and Toews were out of the lineup at the same time. Oduya came up lame after the warm ups, so it was a night to experiment for Joel Quenneville. The Hawks bench boss used quite a few different line combinations and expect more of the same over the next five games.

The Hawks did score by going to the net as Ben Smith and Bryan Bickell tallied.

 

Bickell played his first game since March 19 and was a welcome addition. For the Hawks to regain form and take a run at the Stanley Cup, Bickell has to be a big part of the effort. Smith has established himself as a heady player who is a valuable contributor.

Corey Crawford was victimized on a poor shot block attempt by Niklas Hjalmarsson on Colorado's first goal. The puck bounced around and deflected in past Crawford. Then with less than two minutes remaining it appeared another deflected shot beat Crawford. This time Crawford looked tentative and probably should have made the save.

In the shootout Crawford stood tall and Marian Hossa blasted one by Ilya Bryzgalov to capture the extra point.

The Blackhawks didn't have an easy time and that should be expected through the final game of the season. Quenneville will look to stop the bad habits and aim for sixty minute efforts. Players like Joakim Nordstrom, Jeremy Morin and other youngsters will get ice time. Oduya is expected to also be out for tonight's contest.

Kane and Toews are supposedly going to be 100% for the start of the playoffs.

They may be physically sound but conditioning and timing could be a concern. When the playoffs begin Kane will have been out of action for about a month and there will likely be some rust. Kane may have a problem getting his stamina back and playing in the Colorado altitude won't help.

The time off could benefit Toews. He wasn't playing at his best before the injury and his gas tank could have been running low. Usually Toews takes control when another important forward is out injured. That wasn't the case since Kane was out so maybe the time off is a blessing in disguise for the Hawks captain.

Tonight the Blackhawks will take to the road to face the Blue Jackets.

Columbus is clinging to a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. Last night the Jackets shutout the Flyers in Philadelphia.

The Hawks will need a top effort as this is a very important game for Columbus. The Jackets will also be looking to avenge a lopsided 6-1 loss to Chicago from early March.

I will be back on Saturday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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