Banged-up Hawks need better start vs. Wild
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This check by Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon against Andrew Shaw in the third period of Tuesday's 4-3 loss will keep the Blackhawks center out of action today in Minnesota against the Wild.
It's no secret in the NHL that the first game back home following a lengthy road trip can be a difficult one for a variety of reasons.
The Blackhawks, fresh off their circus road trip in which they won six of seven games, didn't play badly Tuesday against Dallas, but they didn't really get their legs under them until the second period in a 4-3 loss to the Stars.
Blackhawks game dayBlackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center, 7 p.m. Thursday
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: WGN-AM 720
The skinny: The season series with the Wild is tied at 1-1 with each team winning on the other's ice. Minnesota center Mikael Granlund is out with a concussion. Josh Harding gets the start in goal. The Wild can pull within 5 points of the first-place Hawks with a win.
Next: Anaheim Ducks at the United Center, 7 p.m. Friday.
-- Tim Sassone
The Hawks fell behind 3-0 and never really recovered.
"It certainly wasn't a dud," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was a dud to start for me, but I thought we got ourselves back in the game and gave ourselves a chance to at least tie it going to the third period where anything can happen."
The Hawks came out of the game even more banged up, losing Andrew Shaw in the final minute when he took a hard check behind the net. Shaw didn't accompany the team to Minnesota for Thursday's game against the Wild and neither did center Michal Handzus (illness).
The Hawks are already without left wing Bryan Bickell, defenseman Michael Kostka and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin because of injuries.
The Hawks will need to start better against a Minnesota team that is only 7 points behind them in the Central Division standings. The Hawks put 50 shots on Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen, but it wasn't enough.
"He was pretty good for them," Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "We know he's a good goalie and he usually plays good for them, but I don't think we were as sharp as we could be. We did a good job coming back, being down 3-0, but you can't expect to win every game when you dig yourself a hole like that."
The Hawks were well aware of Tuesday possibly being a so-called trap game and thought they were prepared for it.
"It's just a matter of keeping this thing going without changing our style too much," Jonathan Toews said. "When you get home, teams get excited, they want to go out there and score goals. We have to remind ourselves that we're going to get that offense. We've been winning games all sorts of ways lately and we can keep going with that same attitude.
"We need to be smart. If we have to win a tight game, that's what we'll do. We've been winning games all sorts of ways lately playing smart and playing disciplined."
With Andrew Shaw and Michal Handzus not traveling to Minnesota for Thursday's game with the Wild, forwards Jeremy Morin and Joakim Nordstrom were recalled from Rockford on Wednesday.
The Hawks also sent struggling center Brandon Pirri to Rockford along with defenseman Michael Kostka (for conditioning purposes).
Pirri went without a point for the eighth straight game Tuesday.
Handzus will miss his second game in a row with an undisclosed illness.
This will be Morin's third stint with the Hawks this season. Nordstrom started the year here, but was sent to Rockford after eight games. He had 5 goals and 1 assist in 15 games with the IceHogs.
Minnesota coach Mike Yeo knows his team needs to be at its best against the Hawks.
"They're a good team," Yeo said. "They have a ton of skill yet play with a lot of structure. We've got to make sure we're sharp."
•Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone.
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