Blackhawks fall to Wild 4-3; head home to face the Ducks

For the first time this season, the Chicago Blackhawks took two losses in a row.

The Blackhawks gave up one goal to the Wild early in the first, an even-strength goal for Matt Cooke, 4:23 into the game. It would take until late in the second period for Minnesota to grab another goal, this one a power play goal by Zach Parise to make it 2-0.

Chicago was getting outshot and outworked for most of the first and second periods. The Blackhawks had just 7 shots through 27 minutes. They looked more like a team coming off a two-week road trip than a team that had a day off yesterday.

Jeremy Morin would get the Blackhawks on the board with just 17 seconds remaining in the second.

Brandon Saad would tie up the game 2-2 with an unassisted goal less than a minute into the third as the Blackhawks began showing new life. Marian Hossa would then give Chicago their first lead of the game, scoring from a sharp angle, to make it 3-2.

Kris Versteeg was very noticeable in a good way in tonight's game. It is clear that the Versteeg who has returned to Chicago after time with the Maple Leafs, Flyers, and Panthers is a different, better player than he was when he won a Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010.

On the flip side, Johnny Oduya had a bad night, directly contributing to both of the Wild's two PPGs.

The Wild's second PPG came with 5:39 remaining in the third; Jonas Brodin scored to tied the game. Marco Scandella would give the Wild the go-ahead goal with just under two minutes left on the clock.

The Blackhawks pulled Corey Crawford for an extra attacker, but Chicago could not force overtime, and the Wild won 4-3.

After the game, coach Joel Quenneville said that Crawford "needs to be better". Crawford has give up 8 goals on 41 shots over the past two games, averaging a mere .805 sv%. Quenneville also criticized the team's penalty kill, which continues to linger in the league basement - the team is now 29th in the league at 72.6%. Their home PK average is even worse, at 67.6%.

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The Blackhawks will head home to face the Anaheim Ducks for the first time this season. Chicago is 5-1-0 in the second half of back-to-back games so far this season, including the game vs. Phoenix that wrapped up the two-week circus trip.

Anaheim is coming off a 3-2 overtime shootout loss versus the LA Kings. The Ducks were already in Chicago, and held practice on Thursday afternoon at the Blackhawks' practice facility. The team will be rested and ready to face their Western Conference rivals.

The Ducks recalled Emerson Etem and David Steckel prior to the Chicago game. Mathieu Perreault has been placed on IR (lower body). Francois Beauchemin (upper body) is on the road trip for the Ducks, and practiced on Thursday; his status for Friday has not been determined. Forward Jakob Silfverberg, defenseman Luca Sbisa, and goalie Viktor Fasth remain on IR for the Ducks.

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau was frustrated with his team after Tuesday's game versus the Kings; the Ducks gave up 51 shots against a team that was on the second game of a back-to-back. The team would not like to repeat that performance on Friday.

The Blackhawks will need to buckle down their defense and simplify their play in front of their home crowd on Friday. The game versus the Ducks will be their second in four nights.

The Blackhawks will welcome the Panthers to town on Sunday, when the teams will face each other for the first time since the trade that brought Kris Versteeg back to Chicago, and sent Kevin Hayes and Dylan Olsen to Florida.

Game info: Friday, December 6, 7:00 p.m. CST

Where: United Center, 1901 W. Madison, Chicago

Viewing information: CSN-Chicago, NHL Network; radio - WGN 720 AM.

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