The Chicago Blackhawks were famously quoted in the days leading up to yet another outdoor game appearance for the Central Division club as saying that they get so many outdoor games because ‘they deserve it’.
They may deserve it indeed – but they put on less than an impressive showing at the TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota this weekend, falling 6-1 to the Minnesota Wild in the first outdoor game held in the ‘state of hockey’.
Excluding a late third-period game for Chicago, it looked like the Wild were going to see starting netminder Devan Dubnyk record his fifth shutout of the 2015-16 season; as it was, Dubnyk made 31 saves en route to Minnesota’s victory, while Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford was pulled in favor of Scott Darling after allowing four goals on just 23 shots in the first two periods. The Wild managed to get one past Darling as well, finally scoring an empty netter to take home their decisive victory over Chicago.
With the win, Minnesota moves just one point out of the second Wild Card Spot in the Western Conference, boasting 64 points over 59 games and winning their last four straight games after firing head coach Mike Yeo earlier this month. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, didn’t move at all in the standings – but they hardly needed to. Chicago currently boasts 81 points on the season, good for first in the Central Division and second in the NHL; even with a poor showing at their 2016 outdoor game, the original six club is still flying high.
Of course, the game didn’t come without a bit of controversy, though – the league could be reviewing a hit made by Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival on Wild forward Jason Zucker in the middle of the game, which resulted in Zucker’s head hitting the ice.
As both teams walk away from their first head-to-head of the year, they’ll regroup and look to face off again in about a month’s time; the Wild and the Blackhawks play again in Chicago on March 20th, then finish out their season series in Minnesota on March 29th.