Blackhawks get wake up call, motivated Wild capture Game 3 - FOX 32 News Chicago

Blackhawks get wake up call, motivated Wild capture Game 3

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

With a 4-0 loss, the Chicago Blackhawks held true to form and lost the first road game of a playoff series for the ninth straight time since 2010. If the Minnesota Wild were looking for a shot of confidence, they got one on Tuesday night.

Game 3 wasn’t a scintillating viewing experience, and through 40 minutes both teams had little offensive punch. Actually neither club seemed to be able to string passes together. Even though they were held scoreless, it appeared the Blackhawks were only a solid 20 minutes away from a stranglehold on the series. As it turned out, the Wild were more motivated and their best players came to life.

Ilya Bryzgalov was considered a liability for Minnesota, but now he is riding high coming off a shutout. It wasn’t as if Bryzgalov was called on to make a lot of difficult saves, and the Hawks weren’t in position for rebounds. For most of the game, the Blackhawks didn’t make life miserable for Bryzgalov by getting players in his face. The opposite was true as Bryzgalov saw almost every shot and his view wasn’t obstructed - the Hawks managed only 19 shots on goal.

Corey Crawford got hung with the loss, but he shouldn’t be faulted.

In the final frame, the first Wild score came about on a nice pass and good play, but Patrick Kane did lose his check. The second Minnesota goal happened as Marcus Kruger and his linemates were caught flat-footed. Then, the skillful Mikael Granlund froze Crawford and put a backhander into the net. Two goals in 4:18 were enough, but the Wild were not done.

Late in the third period, the Wild broke an 0-24 power play drought which dated back to last year’s playoffs. Zach Parise scored with the man advantage. Then Granlund recorded an empty net goal to cap the scoring.

The Blackhawks came to life when they were down by two goals, but really didn’t come close to scoring. In the first two games in the series, the Wild’s top players were silent and Tuesday night, the Blackhawks had many players disappear.

For almost the entire game, the Wild’s top line outplayed Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell. Bickell logged 15:22 of ice time and went from the Hawks best player in Game 2 to not noticeable in Game 3. The Hawks second line played in spurts and the third and fourth lines were outplayed.

Joel Quenneville changed a winning lineup for the second game in a row and this time it didn’t work.

Nick Leddy was scratched and missed an opportunity to play in front of family and friends. Quenneville basically rotated five defenders. Sheldon Brookbank played 12:16 which was 4:56 less than Niklas Hjalmarsson who was next lowest in ice time.

Hjalmarsson was hit in the throat with a puck on Sunday and is not supposed to talk. It has been reported it could be about two weeks before Hjalmarsson gets his voice back. Under the circumstances, Hjalmarsson had a decent game but he did pick up a couple of penalties.

Jeremy Morin was a scratch and Brandon Bollig dressed. Bollig saw the ice for only 5:53, which was a game low.

Quenneville has had a magic touch for much of the postseason, but he hasn’t found a way to have an effective third and fourth line. The Hawks also haven’t been able to string together three solid periods versus the Wild.

The Blackhawks haven't seemed in danger of losing the series to the Wild. That is still the case after the Game 3 loss. But if the Wild capture Game 4, the Hawks will have blown a chance for a short series.

It will be interesting to see who Quenneville scratches for Friday night’s contest. It is hard to imagine he will stick with the same lineup. Quenneville seems to like Joakim Nordstrom, but he didn’t look good Tuesday night - and he wasn’t alone. Kris Versteeg doesn’t add much and others will also have to be better.

The Hawks will return home to regroup for a couple of days and will try to find some motivation. They have yet to play three solid periods in the same game versus the Wild. If that doesn’t change, this series could become much more competitive than appeared the case a few days ago.

Game 3 couldn’t have been scripted much better for a Minnesota resurgence. The Wild’s backup goalie earned a shutout, their lifeless power play finally recorded a goal and their best players were the best.

If the Blackhawks needed a wakeup call, the Wild delivered one.

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

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