Sunday was fan appreciation night at the United Center, and if you like high-flying offenses, big hits, fights galore and just enough defense to make things interesting, you absolutely appreciated the Blackhawks' 5-4 shootout loss to the uber-scrappy Minnesota Wild.
"Both teams were having fun out there; you saw it with the celebrations on both sides," said Minnesota's Devin Setoguchi, who had the most to celebrate with a goal, 2 assists and the game-winner in the shootout. "It was just a fun game to be a part of."
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"It was really feisty out there," Hawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said.
Maybe so, but the Hawks were more than up for a little feisty, especially the youngest Hawks, who provided the punch -- literally -- in this one.
Jimmy Hayes opened the fight card early in the first period by scrapping with Justin Falk, and about a minute later Brandon Bollig went at it with Clayton Stoner in retaliation for a slash of Patrick Kane.
"To be honest with you, I didn't even know who it was, but it's good to see," said Kane, who scored twice, including the game-tying goal in the final minutes of regulation off a sweet assist from Andrew Shaw.
That would be the same Shaw who in the second period gave up a couple of inches and 20 pounds to Minnesota's Cody Almond SShaw Shaw who in the second period gave up a couple of inches and 20 pounds to Minnesota's Cody Almond but still went toe to toe with him in an extended row that brought the packed house to its feet.
On his way to the penalty box, Shaw, who ranks sixth among Western Conference rookies with 22 points in 35 games, waved his hand in the air as if asking the crowd for more.
"I'm sure I'm not the only one who was laughing," Kane said of Shaw's theatrics. "It's fun to see.
"Lots of good energy from the young guys. Hayes fought, Bollig fought, and Shawsie gave us a real treat. And he and had a nice setup on the tying goal.
"Those guys have helped us out a lot."
A Wild first period ended with Minnesota up 2-1 on the scoreboard but trailing 26-14 in penalty minutes.
"I don't think we've seen one that chippy in a long time, if at all this season so far," said defenseman Nick Leddy, who picked up his 33rd and 34th assists.
Every time the Hawks fought back Sunday, Minnesota, which now has missed out on the postseason four years in a row, had an answer.
"People might think, 'They're out of it,' but it's big for our club to finish strong and make sure that we do things the right way, instead of taking an early vacation here," Setoguchi said.
"It was big to get that 1 point," Kane said. "It would have been nice to get 2."