Rivalries need to begin somewhere.
As the top two teams in the Western Conference at the moment, the Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild might be on the verge of becoming fierce rivals, especially with them scheduled to be in the same conference next season when the NHL realigns.
Once upon a time, the Hawks and the Minnesota North Stars were ugly rivals right up until the North Stars moved to Dallas.
While the names of the Wild's Koivu, Clutterbuck and Brodziak likely never will approach the level of dislike old-time Hawks fans had for North Stars such as Ciccarelli, Churla and McRae, only time will tell how this Hawks-Minnesota rivalry develops from here.
In Wednesday's showdown at the Xcel Energy Center, the Hawks were able to pull within 2 points of the West-leading Wild with a 4-3 victory in a shootout.
Patrick Kane clinched it in the shootout with a dazzling move we haven't seen before from the Hawks' star.
Kane skated in on Niklas Backstrom, nearly came to a stop, then continued stickhandling the goalie out of the net. Kane made at least a dozen dekes, possibly more. They were coming too quickly to count.
"I've been practicing shootouts in practice a little bit," Kane said. "Sometimes going slow throws off the goalie a little bit. I didn't know what I was going to do when I stopped, but I saw him kind of go one way and I had an open net."
Jonathan Toews called Kane's move awesome.
"It was sick," Toews said. "A big win for the boys and a little flash from P. Kane."
The Hawks once had a 2-0 lead on goals by Marian Hossa and Michael Frolik, but they let the Wild back into it.
Minnesota got help from linesman Ryan Gallaway on its first goal from Kyle Brodziak. It appeared icing was to be called, but Gallaway wiped it out with a late signal that confused Hawks defensemen Steve Montador and John Scott as they appeared to ease up.
According to Versus TV analyst Pierre McGuire, who was stationed between the benches, Gallaway later apologized to Hawks coach Joel Quenneville for blowing the call.
"It was one of those calls, but you've still got to keep playing," Quenneville said, taking the high road.
It was 2-2 in the third period when Toews burst out of the right corner to put the Hawks back ahead at 6:54 with his 18th goal.
The Wild's Mikko Koivu tied it with 5:04 to play during a delayed penalty sequence with a shot that beat Hawks goalie Ray Emery off the leg of defenseman Nick Leddy.
Emery was terrific yet again with 27 saves. He also stopped both Wild attempts in the shootout. He has won his last four starts to run his record to 7-1-2.
"When the game is on the line he gets bigger," Quenneville said. "Certainly we like what he's doing."