Blackhawks Shutout Wild 1-0; Capture 30th Win of Season
Marian Hossa scored the only goal of the game with 4:46 remaining in the second period and Ray Emery shut the door on the Wild shooters as Chicago captured its 30th win of the year in Minnesota last night.
Emery faced 20 shots to record his 15th win and third shutout of the year. The shutout was also his third in his last five starts, a stretch that has seen him go 4-1-0 with a 1.68 GAA and a 0.951 SV% and has many in the windy city sounding the Goalie Controversy Alarm.
Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom, making his 22nd start in the last 24 games for the Wild, stood on his head for most of the night, turning away all but one of the 31 shots launched by a tenacious Chicago offense. His stellar play between the pipes kept the Wild in the game all evening, particularly in the first period when Minnesota was outshot 11 to 4.
Marian Hossa’s goal, his 14th of the season and first since returning from injury four games ago, was the result of a truly ghastly mistake by Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner.
Stoner, whose obliviousness on the play makes him seem aptly named, attempted to start a Minnesota breakout by venturing a cross-ice pass from the half boards to Backstrom’s left. However, as any coach from peewee on up will tell you: passing through the middle of your own defensive zone is ill-advised.
Hossa, reading the play like a children’s pop-up book, streaked across the offensive blue line and intercepted the errant pass. The Chicago forward then took a few strides before uncorking a hellacious slap shot that marauded its way through Backstrom’s five hole to give the visiting Blackhawks a 1-0 lead.
Despite being outshot and outplayed for a majority of the game, Minnesota came alive in the waning seconds of the third period with Backstrom pulled for the extra attacker. However, their late surge proved to be no match against Emery and the stalwart Blackhawks defense.
Chicago’s win put them five points ahead of idle Anaheim for the Western Conference lead with a game in hand, and 18 points ahead of the St. Louis Blues for a virtually insurmountable Central Division lead.
Minnesota squandered their game in hand on the Northwest Division leading Vancouver Canucks by failing to record a point, and remain four points back of the Canucks with nine games left on the schedule. The Wild loss, coupled with a Blues win, dropped Minnesota to 7th in the conference behind St. Louis.
Final Score: Blackhawks 1, Wild 0
Chicago Goals: Hossa
Minnesota Goals: None
3) Ray Emery - CHI
2) Niklas Backstrom - MIN
1) Marian Hossa - CHI
Winning Goalie: Ray Emery 0 GA / 1.000 SV%
Losing Goalie: Niklas Backstrom 1 GA / 0.968 SV%
Next Game: Friday, 4/12 vs Detroit Red Wings, United Center, Chicago Illinois
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