Late leads haven’t been kind to the Chicago Blackhawks lately.
On Saturday, the team squandered a two-goal advantage in the third period at Buffalo before dropping a 4-3 decision in overtime. Two nights earlier, a one-goal lead in the third didn’t stand up in an eventual 6-5 home loss to Edmonton.
The Blackhawks will aim to reverse the trend Sunday when they host a Minnesota Wild club trying to end its five-game road trip with a winning record.
Minnesota is coming off a 2-1 loss in Detroit on Saturday that snapped a two-game winning streak as well as a four-game point streak (3-0-1). The Wild outshot the Red Wings 31-25 but struggled to solve Detroit goaltender Ville Husso after Kirill Kaprizov scored at 1:28 of the first period.
“I think we probably hurt ourselves by starting so well,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We had four good chances right away, and we thought we could continue that all night. We shifted into playing as a skill team, when what we’re about is skill and grit.”
Filip Gustavsson made 23 saves for Minnesota, which is likely to turn to Marc-Andre Fleury against his former team. A midseason acquisition for the Wild last season, Fleury has started six of the club’s first eight games.
Arvid Soderblom made his first start of the season in goal for Chicago on Saturday. He looked sharp from the jump and stopped 41 shots overall.
With the Blackhawks completing a back-to-back Sunday, Chicago is expected to start Alex Stalock in net. Stalock is 3-2-0 with a 3.00 goals-against average in the early season as he competes at the lowest weight of his career, a development that has boosted the veteran’s conditioning and confidence.
“As anybody knows, when you’re not doing anything, you can’t get your heart rate up, (and) stuff adds up,” Stalock said. “All of a sudden, (when) you get thrown back into the mix, you’re not where you want to be physically.
“They gave me an opportunity here, (and I) wanted to come in and give myself the best chance. I got into the best shape I could, and obviously it’s paying off. I feel great at 35 years old.”
Shaky special teams have doomed the Blackhawks during their losing streak. Chicago has yielded five power-play goals on 10 chances over the past two contests.
On Saturday, Victor Olofsson scored on the man-advantage 36 seconds into overtime to complete the Sabres’ comeback.
“We were trying to protect the lead instead of just keep playing and playing smartly,” Chicago coach Luke Richardson said. “Those are lessons. The other night, we gave away two points, and tonight we gave away one point. … We gave them their opportunities in the third period, which is disappointing.”
Chicago forward Boris Katchouk made his season debut Saturday after recovering from a sprained ankle. He registered two shots on goal and logged 9:40 of ice time against Buffalo.
–Field Level Media