Powerless Blackhawks drop Central Division showdown with Wild

Patrick Kane played nearly 26 minutes, including a staggering 11 in the first period alone, thanks to coach Joel Quenneville’s decision to dress seven defensemen against the Wild on Wednesday. Kane shrugged it off, saying he’ll take all the ice time he can get.

This whole tooth-and-nail battle for points, however? That’s getting taxing. And there are still 39 games to go.

“Every point’s so huge,” Nick Schmaltz said after a 2-1 loss to Minnesota, a big four-point swing that dropped the Blackhawks back out of a playoff spot. “It’s so crucial at this time of the year. And these points are going to add up at the end.”

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Minnesota's Ryan Suter pins Jonathan Toews against the boards during the second period Wednesday night. (AP Photo)

The power play — so effective in a brilliant four-goal performance in Ottawa a night earlier — was the culprit in this one. The Hawks dominated 5-on-5 play for most of the game, including a whopping 41-11 advantage in shot attempts in the first period.

But three failed power plays — all of them ugly, including one late in the third period that could have tied things up — doomed them to defeat.

“They did a good job of taking away the middle of the ice, and taking away the seams,” Schmaltz said. “The power play’s moving in the right direction; we’re not going to go 4-for-6 every night. Just keep working on it and hopefully we can have an impact on most games.”

Brent Seabrook was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Ottawa, but Quenne-ville didn’t want to mess with the rest of the lineup, so he dressed seven defensemen and 11 forwards. Seabrook responded with a first-period goal, pouncing on a Michal Kempny rebound for just his second tally of the season. But it was the only offense the Hawks got.

Jonas Brodin tied it in the second when his shot deflected off Tommy Wingels’ stick, and Ryan Suter got the game-winner at 3:03 of the third on a 2-on-1. Anton Forsberg made 25 saves, including a handful of big ones to keep the Hawks in the game in the third period, but Devan Dubnyk out-
dueled him with 34 stops.

“All these games are huge,” Kane said. “It’s easy to look at the schedule and the standings and say, ‘OK, if we do this or that we could be in good position.’ But we have to take it one game at a time and see how many points we can get.”

Lone Star

Patrick Kane will be the Blackhawks’ only representative at the All-Star Game in Tampa, Florida, on Jan. 28. Kane has been named to the All-Star team every season in which a game was played since his sophomore season of 2008-09.

There were no games in 2010 and 2014 because of the Olympics, and 2013 because of the lockout.

Corey Crawford is second among all goalies with a .929 save percentage, but was left off the Central Division roster in favor of Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne. Crawford’s undisclosed upper-body injury likely would have prevented him from playing, anyway.

New guy

Quenneville said newly acquired Anthony Duclair will get in the lineup right away.

“He certainly gives us a lot of speed and quickness and he’s dangerous,” Quenneville said. “He does have some skill, so we’re looking forward to seeing how he comes into our lineup, and [we’ll] give him every opportunity to move up in the lineup, as well.”

Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus.

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

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