Kane scores twice as Blackhawks subdue Wild
CHICAGO — Blackhawks defenseman Jordan Oesterle had the puck on his stick when he looked up and saw Chicago teammate Patrick Kane cutting behind a defender for a potential breakaway.
In a moment, Oesterle snapped a long stretch pass across both blue lines and onto the blade of Kane’s stick.
Kane delivered on the breakaway with his second goal of the game, and the Blackhawks cruised to a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night.
“He’s unbelievable. I think he’s one of the best players in the world,” Oesterle, with a smile, said of Kane. “When I saw it was him, I just (thought), ‘Put this right on his tape, and he’ll do the rest.”
Ryan Hartman and Tommy Wingels also scored for Chicago (17-11-5), which increased its season-best winning streak to five games.
Minnesota (17-13-3) lost its second game in a row after winning the previous four.
“Let’s start getting back to the way we can play,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “The last two games, a forward hasn’t gotten a goal. It’s all four lines, quite frankly.”
Part of Minnesota’s scoring struggles on Sunday could be attributed to Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford, who made 27 saves to improve to 16-7-2 on the season. Crawford has not lost in regulation in his past 11 starts dating to Nov. 12 against the New Jersey Devils.
On the opposite end of the rink, Wild goaltender Alex Stalock did what he could to keep his team in contention. Stalock turned aside 42 shots but dropped to 5-5-1.
Kane set the tone with the first two goals of the game. He opened the scoring at 10:56 of the first period when he unleashed a one-timer from the right circle. Center Nick Schmaltz set up the goal with a pass across the slot.
With 4:24 to go in the second period, Kane increased Chicago’s lead to 2-0. Oesterle hit him in stride for his team-leading 14th goal of the season.
“Great plays by both of them,” Kane said. “You kind of expect that from Schmaltz, a great pass cross-ice, just trying to get it on net and one-time it. And then I’m fortunate enough to be coming off the bench there with some speed, and (Oesterle) made a great pass. It was hard, it was flat, and it was right on my tape skating into it.”
Boudreau said a poorly executed line change by the Wild gave Kane the breakaway chance.
“He’s a great player,” Boudreau said. “You can’t give a great player too much opportunity or they’re going to put it in the net. ... I thought at 1-0, there was no way we weren’t going to come back. At 2-0, it became difficult.”
The Blackhawks made it 3-0 at 1:41 of the third period. Hartman intercepted a clearing attempt along the boards and headed toward the right side of the crease. He chipped a shot past Stalock for his first goal since Oct. 28.
Minnesota trimmed the deficit to 3-1 when Dumba scored at 5:56 of the third period. Dumba aimed a slap shot through traffic for his third goal in the past two games, and his sixth on the season.
Wingels finished the scoring with a short-handed, empty-net goal with four minutes left.
Hartman said Chicago’s winning streak was the product of patience and hard work.
“I think we’ve been playing confident, putting together some good periods and some good shifts,” Hartman said. “The power play looks good, we’re getting a lot of chances. The penalty kill looks good, it has looked good all year. All around, five-on-five, we’ve had the puck a lot more. We’re looking good.”
Meanwhile, Minnesota will try to snap out of its slump with three games remaining on its road trip.
“Frustration is the most useless emotion you can have,” Boudreau said. “It does nothing but hurt you. We have to get away from it.”
NOTES: Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane scored his 298th and 299th career goals, which moved him past Dennis Hull for sole possession of fifth place in franchise history. The 29-year-old trails only Brett Hull (604 goals), Stan Mikita (541), Steve Larmer (406) and Denis Savard (377). ... Wild G Devan Dubnyk missed his third game in a row because of a lower-body injury. ... Blackhawks D Jan Rutta was sidelined for the second straight game because of an upper-body injury. ... Minnesota’s healthy scratches were LW Marcus Foligno and D Gustav Olofsson. ... Chicago scratched RW Richard Panik and D Ville Pokka.