CHICAGO – Bouncing back from losses was a trademark of the Wild during the first month and a half of the season, during which the team didn’t drop two straight in regulation through 20 games.
But that resiliency apparently didn’t make the trip to Chicago. The Wild went pointless for a second consecutive game for the first time, after slipping up 3-1 to the Blackhawks Sunday in front of 21,373 at United Center. It was the Wild’s third setback in the past four games, after 10 wins over the previous 12.
“It’s a good thing if we’re not accustomed to losing two in a row,” winger Zach Parise said. “But now you just have to make sure it’s not three in a row.”
After failing to protect a two-goal lead the night before en route to a 3-2 loss to the Sabres at Xcel Energy Center, the Wild couldn’t orchestrate a rally once it tripped into a hole of the same magnitude against the Blackhawks — not when goalie Corey Crawford was almost airtight, pocketing 39 saves, and Chicago’s offensive leaders were active.
Captain Jonathan Toews opened the scoring 8 minutes, 26 seconds into the first period on the power play, finishing off a Patrick Kane feed with a redirect. It was Chicago’s lone power-play goal in three chances.
And then with 2:31 to go in the first, the Blackhawks doubled their cushion when winger Brandon Saad slid the puck around backup goalie Alex Stalock’s unsuccessful poke check.
“It turns out that wasn’t the play,” said Stalock, who saw his three-game win streak nixed amid a 25-save effort.
Set up in front of the net as the screen, Parise deflected in a Mikko Koivu pass at 7:56 of the second on the power play; the Wild finished 1-for-3.
After that, the Wild came close to tying it on a handful of occasions. Center Eric Staal had a few solid looks on the same shift near the end of the period, and defenseman Matt Dumba had a one-timer sail wide.
“You can’t keep digging those holes,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It’s going to come back to haunt you. I thought after the first period — we’ve said this before — we were the better team. It’s too little too late.”
That push carried over to the third, but the team ended the frame shorthanded.
Winger Marcus Foligno blocked a Brent Seabrook shot with his right leg and left the action after getting helped off the ice. Tests were negative, but Foligno was still limping after the game.
He hopes he’ll feel better in the next few days.
“I couldn’t really feel my leg,” he said. “From that position with the outside of the bone, I was kind of worried. It was too sore to come back. I didn’t have much power. It got me on the side. If I took it off the shin pad, maybe it’s a little better. I’ve got to be better at blocking there.”
Even a man short, the Wild had opportunities to put away the equalizer. But like its performance Saturday, when it couldn’t convert despite ample pressure, the team failed to connect.
And with 59 seconds remaining, Toews and Kane set up Blackhawks center Dominik Kahun for an empty-net goal.
It was the Wild’s first loss in the second half of a back-to-back this season after starting 4-0.
“Maybe we can get better screens in front of the net,” Parise said. “Maybe that’s why we’re not scoring the last couple games. Who knows? But [we have to] make sure it stops at two [losses].”