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Blackhawks falter late in regulation, lose to Wild in OT 4-3

ST. PAUL, Minn. — If the Blackhawks come up one point short of anything this season, this is the game they’ll point to.

With a victory over the Minnesota Wild seemingly assured when a holding penalty on Markus Granlund with 1:17 to play in regulation gave the Hawks a power play with a one-goal lead, the Hawks still found a way to lose 4-3 in overtime at Xcel Energy Center.

With Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk pulled, defenseman Ryan Suter backhanded a goal past Cam Ward in a desperate scramble in front of the net with 23 seconds left in regulation. Jason Zucker won it with a breakaway goal 3:25 into overtime to hand the Hawks a demoralizing loss.

“It hurt,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “It was one of those games that you got everything you want. You win a faceoff five-on-four and [it ends up] in our net. We’ve been fortunate to score one of those huge goals in the past. But we can’t let that happen.”

Blackhawks' Alex DeBrincat, (second from right) is congratulated by teammates after scoring against Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk during the first period
Thursday night at Xcel Enegy Center in St. Paul, MInn. | Jim Mone/AP

The loss put a damper on a mostly heroic performance from the beleaguered Ward, who made 42 saves after allowing 14 goals in his first three games.

“He was unbelievable,” said Hawks forward Alex DeBrincat, who scored two goals, including a power-play goal in the third period that gave the Hawks a 3-2 lead. “He made 10 different highlight-reel saves. He was incredible and really kept us in the game.”

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DeBrincat’s power-play tally ended an 0-for-13 drought with the man advantage. Dominik Kahun scored his first NHL goal off a nifty feed from Jonathan Toews for a 2-0 lead. But Ward’s performance was the highlight of the night for the Hawks, even in defeat.

“I felt good. I felt calm. I felt big,” Ward said. “Just trying to do what I can to give our team a chance to win. It was right there for us. We had the power play with less than two minutes to go. It’s unfortunate it slipped away. I’ll take the positives and move forward.”

Quenneville and Ward rued the game-tying goal. But the desperate Wild beat the Hawks to the puck five times in the sequence — victimizing rookie defenseman Henri Jokiharju, Duncan Keith, Jokiharju again, Nick Schmaltz and Keith again before Suter finally scored.

“That’s Ryan Suter on top of the crease on a penalty kill,” Ward said. “Obviously, they knew they needed to score to tie the game. When they were banging it on the post, I didn’t see Suter right there at the top of the crease. That’s desperation on their part and good on them. It could have gone either way.”

Quenneville was peeved that the Wild even got the puck after Jonathan Toews won the faceoff after Granlund’s penalty with 1:17 left in regulation.

“We should have kept it the whole time,” Quenneville said. “They shouldn’t have touched it. It’s keepaway. But we made an indirect play, and we started chasing it.”

The Hawks (2-0-2) still have six points in four games, which is pretty good. But after losing leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in this one, they have lost all six leads they’ve taken this season. Zucker scored with 2.8 seconds left in the second period to tie the score 2-2.

It was that kind of night.

“We should have been able to put it away,” DeBrincat said. “We had a power play with a minute left, up one. We just can’t let that happen.”