The Blackhawks didn’t solve all their problems in one night with Monday night’s 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. But things are certainly looking up. Joel Quenneville’s revamped top two lines each produced goals, newcomer Brad Mills spearheaded a perfect penalty kill, Corey Crawford and the defense rebounded with a stellar effort, Patrick Sharp finally got off the schneid and the Hawks turned a tight game into their first laugher of the season. Brandon Saad had a highlight-reel goal and a highlight-reel assist, and Patrick Kane added a goal and an assist of his own. Brandon Pirri had two secondary assists in his first game at second-line center, and Crawford finished with 29 saves. Despite two straight losses, including one to the Wild on Saturday night at the United Center, the Hawks were loose and energetic at the morning skate. It carried over to the game. Sharp, who hadn’t scored in five games and had just one goal all season despite creating as many chances as anyone on the team, finally broke through late in the first period. New linemate Marian Hossa worked the puck free behind the net, and Sharp made a nifty move at the corner of the crease to tuck the puck in behind Niklas Backstrom for a 1-0 Hawks lead. The calm first period gave way to a hectic second, as three goals were scored in the final nine minutes. The Wild had been controlling play and out-chancing the Hawks, but Corey Crawford kept them at bay, stopping Nino Niederreiter twice — once with his mask. But red-hot Jason Pominville ripped a shot past Crawford from the right circle for his sixth goal in eight games. The play was set up when Duncan Keith got over-aggressive at the blue line, going for the hit on Mikael Granlund instead of the puck, freeing Granlund up to hit Pominville in stride. But the Hawks quickly responded with a pair of goals. First, Sheldon Brookbank scored his first goal — becoming the last Hawks regular to notch a point this season — when he one-timed a Patrick Kane feed off a Nick Leddy rebound past Backstrom. Less than two minutes later, Leddy — the hometown boy and former Wild first-round draft pick — scored on the power play, firing a shot from the point past Backstrom after Brent Seabrook made a terrific play at the other point to keep the puck in on a Wild clearing attempt. It was Leddy’s first goal of the season, and his first goal against the Wild. He had two assists Saturday in the Hawks’ 5-3 loss to Minnesota at home.
Blackhawks look impressive in 5-1 win over Wild
Chicago Sun-Times | Oct 29