After losing to the Minnesota Wild in game 3 on Sunday, Chicago Blackhawks‘ captain Jonathan Toews suggested before game 4 on Tuesday that the team needed to play with the same hatred as the Wild showed on Sunday. There was no question that the Wild were the more physical team in game 3, and the Blackhawks needed to match that physicality in game 4 if the team was going to avoid losing their second consecutive game to the Wild.
In the first period, the Blackhawks were able to match the Wild play for play. The Wild had seven shots on goal as opposed six from the Blackhawks; however, the Blackhawks converted on one of their shots as left winger Patrick Sharp scored the first goal of the game and gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead that remained for the duration of the period. The Blackhawks were able to match the physicality of the Wild as the Hawks had 5 hits while the Wild had 6. As the first period was drawing to an end, Wild goalie Josh Harding was injured and did not return for the second period.
As the second period began, the Blackhawks’ took advantage of the goalie change as Sharp scored his second goal of the night, this time on Darcy Kuemper, to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead. The Wild had two power-play opportunities in the second period but failed to convert on both of them. To that end, Blackhawks’ goalie Corey Crawford was impressive in keeping the Wild scoreless in the second period by saving all 6 of the Wild’s shots on goal. The Blackhawks out-shot the Wild in the second period 11-6.
The Wild had two power-play opportunities to begin the third period, however, the Blackhawks’ penalty kill unit successfully negated both opportunities for the Wild. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks took advantage of another scoring opportunity in the third period as Bryan Bickell scored to give the Blackhawks a 3-0 lead. That would wind up being the final score of the game as the Blackhawks take game 4 and increase their lead in the series to 3-1.
There is no question that the Blackhawks learned from their mistakes in game 3. The Hawks were not pushed around nearly as much in game 4 as they were in game 3, and that allowed for the Hawks to take advantage of the offensive opportunities that arose. The Hawks’ penalty kill unit continues to impress as the they have successfully killed all of the Wild’s powerplay opportunities this series including 6 of them on Tuesday. With their victory on Tuesday, the Hawks regained control of the series and stopped the brief momentum that the Wild created with their victory on Sunday.
The series returns to the United Center on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. as the Hawks look to eliminate the Wild from the playoffs in game 5.