Alexander Shun | @alexpshun
Digital Content Manager | KFAN.com
The Minnesota Wild fell to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday afternoon, losing 4-2 and watching their overall lead in the Western Conference dwindle back to just a single point.
“It’s disappointing,” Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said of the loss Sunday. “[The Blackhawks] were there to be had today.”
It certainly didn't seem that way at first as Chicago came out firing, lacing two goals past Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk on their first two shots and forcing Dubnyk to hit the showers early, being replaced by Darcy Kuemper less than five minutes into the game.
Boudreau spoke on Dubnyk's performance after the game and made it clear that it was nothing more than simply a bad showing by his All-Star goaltender, reiterating the immense confidence he has in Dubnyk.
“It was on him...You follow a goalie for 68 games, you sort of know his traits and his trends,” Boudreau said on Dubnyk. “He didn’t look like he was following the puck well. … I just thought he didn’t have it tonight.”
In the opposite net, Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford was sensational, stopping 42 of Minnesota's 44 shots including all 20 shots that he faced in the second period.
Thanks to Crawford's amazing performance, the Blackhawks are now setting their sights on taking the top spot from Minnesota.
"Huge game by [Crawford], but I think overall we want to be better as a team," Blackhawks All-Star Patrick Kane said after the game. "We have 14 games left to make sure that happens and feel good about ourselves going into the [Stanley Cup Playoffs]. We'll see what happens now."
Minnesota dramatically outshot Chicago (44-22) but failed to overcome multiple two-goal deficits.
The Wild had momentum early in the third period - very early in the third period - when just 46 seconds into the final period Mikael Granlund laced a shot past Crawford to cut the Blackhawks lead to 3-2. Unfortunately they were unable to sustain such momentum.
After a few furious rushes, the Wild allowed Chicago's Marian Hossa a breakaway that ended with him firing a slap shot past Kuemper and pushing the Blackhawks lead back to two goals.
Inability to capitalize on their scoring chances frustrated Wild players and many believe that if they had capitalized on the chances they had the game would have looked a lot different.
"We've got to find a way to capitalize and bury a few of those [scoring chances]," Minnesota's Eric Staal said. "If we did, I feel like it would have been lopsided the other way."
Staal recorded his 22nd goal of the season in the first period to open the scoring for the Wild but says such stats mean nothing if the team doesn't come away victorious.
“We are after wins here,” Staal said. “We have a team that comes to play and comes to get two points every time we get on the ice. That’s our mind-set.”
The Wild will need to pull together quickly as a Tuesday night match-up with the league's best team, the Washington Capitals, looms in front of them. And if they can't knock off the Capitals, they could fall from the top spot in the Western Conference for the first time in months.