It’s hard to stop Tomas Kopecky once he starts rolling.
For the third time this year, Kopecky turned in a two-goal performance in a Blackhawks win. He has now set a new career high with 9 goals and 6 of those goals have come in three games.
He tallied his first goal of the night at the end of the first period. With the teams locked in a 0-0 tie, Ben Eager carried the puck over the Minnesota blue line. He left the puck for Kopecky, and in the blink of an eye, blasted a slap shot past Nicklas Backstrom. The Wild ‘tender got a shoulder on the puck but it wasn’t enough as it trickled past him and into the net.
Halfway through the second period, Ben Eager picked off (or simply had the puck bounce off him) an errand Wild pass in the neutral zone. He came barrelling down the right wing and snapped off a shot towards the net. Backstrom stopped the shot but kicked the rebound right back to Eager. It didn’t take long for the rebound to find its way into the back of the Wild’s net. Good thing, too, because another second longer and Kopecky would’ve taken the net right off its moorings.
In between those two goals, the Hawks completely dominated the Wild. The puck rarely left the Minnesota side of the ice and when they did have possession, it wasn’t for very long. It was like November all over again.
Until the Wild got a 5-on-3 power play at the end of the second period.
What followed was their only real sustained pressure of the game. The Wild had three glorious opportunities but were turned away each time by Antti Niemi. In making the saves, Niemi also bailed out Brent Sopel who played the majority of the 5-on-3 as though he had no idea his team was killing a penalty, let alone two.
Each golden chance Minnesota had was courtesy of Sopel running around in his defensive zone as if his pants were on fire. Luckily for him, Niemi was more than able on the point-blank chances.
After the Hawks killed off the 5-on-3, the Wild never really had a chance.
Tomas Kopecky added his second goal early in the third period courtesy of some hard work from his linemates. Colin Fraser dug the puck out from down deep in the Hawks end. Eager made a nifty chip pass in his defensive zone to spring Kopecky on a 2-on-1. Then on the ensuing rush, Kopecky faked a shot and snapped a low shot through Backstrom’s legs to give the fourth line -and the Hawks- their third goal of the night.
Jonathan Toews closed out the scoring after he banged home a sweet Marian Hossa backhand pass from below the goal line. The play started on a perfectly placed Ham Sandwich dump-in. If you could bottle that play up, you’d never have a problem scoring goals in this league.
This time, there would be no four goal comeback from the Wild and the Hawks first extended losing streak of the season mercifully ended. Antti Niemi recorded his seventh shutout of the season and all is normal in Hawk Nation once again.
–I have no qualms with the output from the fourth line tonight. Where I’m getting increasingly frustrated is the feast or famine production that’s going on with them. In Los Angeles, they were the best line on the ice. Against Phoenix, they were liabilities. They were non-factors against Columbus and St. Louis. Then tonight, the best line again. I’ve already been burned too many times this year by declaring the fourth line officially back; so I’ll just be content with them looking normal against New Jersey.
–A really scary moment early on in the game involving Colin Fraser. He was slammed into the boards and while he was sitting on the bench, play was actually stopped to let the Minnesota trainer get on the Hawks bench to examine him. I can’t say I’ve ever seen that before. The good news was Fraser didn’t die on the bench and it also gave Pat and Eddie the opportunity to smooch the Blackhawks official team doctor for a solid 15 minutes during the second period.
–Can you actually believe at this time last year Brent Burns was considered a favorite for Team Canada’s defense? Unable to shake the injury bug and unable to escape the stench coming from the Wild, Burns has taken two steps back since his 43 point campaign in ’07-08.
–So that’s three games for Patrick Kane without a point. How long before we’re subjected to stories about what’s wrong with him? I give it another day. With the off-day on Thursday, it’s guaranteed that someone (and I’m not naming names) will look to give him a beating after he skated with four different linemates on back-to-back nights.
*On the Farm*
–Kyle Beach had a goal and assist in Spokane’s Game 7 overtime loss to the Portland Winterhawks. Beach finished his WHL career with 7 goals and 2 assists in the playoffs. Assuming he isn’t dealing with any nagging injuries and assuming they’ll accept him back, Beach will be in Rockford fairly soon.