Blackhawks collapse late in loss to Wild, remain tied for last place

The Hawks conceded three goals in the final six minutes Monday en route to a 4-2 defeat, their 11th in their last 12 games — despite outshooting the Wild 42-22 and dominating the first two periods.

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The Wild beat the Blackhawks 4-2 at the United Center on Monday.

The Wild beat the Blackhawks 4-2 at the United Center on Monday.

Paul Beaty/AP

The Blackhawks dominated Monday’s matchup against the Wild to a degree rarely, if ever, seen in their first 79 games of the season.

But the Wild nonetheless rallied late and escaped with a 4-2 win, rescuing the Hawks’ organizational hopes of guaranteeing a top-three draft pick in the process.

Minnesota forward Marcus Johansson scored both the game-tying and go-ahead goals within the final six minutes, helping the visitors overcome the Hawks’ massive 42-22 advantage in shots on goal.

It marked the Hawks’ 11th loss in their last 12 games overall and their ninth straight against the Wild.

“We played well for most of the game, and we just made mistakes,” defenseman Connor Murphy said.

The Wild entered the day with little at stake and thus rested several key players, while those they sent seemed to be giving considerably below 100% effort. The Hawks, meanwhile, haven’t lacked effort all season — in spite of their major talent deficit — and thoroughly controlled the game’s first 50 minutes.

Ugly neutral-zone turnovers by Jason Dickinson and Jonathan Toews, respectively, fed Johansson’s two goals.

“[It] seemed to be contagious, turning the puck over at the blue line, which has been kind of an Achilles heel lately,” coach Luke Richardson said. “We’ve played well in certain games, but not as dominant as tonight. And then, at a certain point, just get frustrated and [start] trying to win the game when we could just lay it in behind them.”

The defeat snatched from the jaws of victory kept the Hawks at 56 points on the season, still tied with the Blue Jackets for last place in the NHL standings. They need the Jackets to earn at least one point in their final three games to enter the May 8 draft lottery with the top odds at the first pick.

Toews leans on family

Toews’ situation — having accepted the end of his Hawks career but still unsure whether he’s reaching the end of his hockey playing career — could easily feel isolating for him personally.

So he’s leaning on those who know him best to help him sort through his thoughts and avoid any sense of isolation.

“You still make those life decisions on your own,” Toews said Monday. “But there’s no doubt your family, your friends and the significant others in your life all have an impact. [They] are able to help you reflect on what’s most important to you and what the right situation going forward would be.”

Toews’ mom, Andrée Gilbert, has been particularly supportive.

“Even after my worst games, [she] always tells me how good I played,” Toews added. “So I usually know where she stands on things before she even tells me.”

Toews and the rest of the United Center briefly thought he scored a particularly meaningful goal on a delayed penalty in the third period Monday — which would’ve put the Hawks up 3-1. But it was waved off after officials declared the Wild had gained possession.

“I’m sure the announcement of that goal would’ve been huge in here, for the crowd and himself,” Richardson said.

Commesso signing

Hawks goalie prospect Drew Commesso has signed an NHL entry-level contract that begins next season, per a source, forgoing his senior year of eligibility at Boston University.

Commesso’s season ended last week in BU’s tough-to-swallow Frozen Four loss to Minnesota, but his overall season was encouraging. He finished 24-8-0 with a .913 save percentage and 2.46 GAA. His new mental training routine of using a virtual-reality headset exemplified his thoughtful, out-of-the-box approach to the position.

With Commesso set to join Arvid Soderblom and Jaxson Stauber in the pro ranks next season, the Hawks will boast quite an impressive trio of young goaltenders.

Mrazek’s surge ends

Continuing the goaltending topic, Petr Mrazek’s rough night Saturday — allowing seven goals on 31 shots by the Kraken — ended what had been, by far, his best stretch of the season.

From Feb. 16 through last week, the 31-year-old Czech goalie had allowed four or fewer goals in 13 consecutive appearances, posting a solid .917 save percentage over that time period.

That surge raised his season-long save percentage from an ugly .884 to a close-to-league-average .895 before Saturday bumped it back down to .892. Mrazek believes his work with Hawks goalie coach Jimmy Waite has made a significant impact.

“I’m glad that I played in the preseason and we could watch the videos [of that],” Mrazek said recently. “Jimmy had things to say in those videos [about] how I shouldn’t be playing — and to be honest, I played like that back in the day. I played a lot different last year.

“[This season], I’m doing the right things like Jimmy wanted, and everyone can see the progress.”

Alex Stalock has performed significantly better than Mrazek this season, but he has done so in fewer appearances — Stalock has made 23 starts to Mrazek’s 37 — and he’s a pending free agent while Mrazek has another year left on his contract.

Given both that contract conundrum and the Hawks’ likely desire to move Soderblom up to the NHL full-time next season, it should be interesting to see how — or if — general manager Kyle Davidson shapes the goaltending depth chart this offseason.

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