Hossa scores 2 goals to lead Blackhawks
Hossa scored two goals for the second straight game and the Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1 on Tuesday night to take over the NHL points lead.
“Obviously coming to a new team it takes a little time to adjust to the chemistry,” Hossa said. “Right now we are finding each other more and more for scoring opportunities and things are going in right now.”
Hossa had to contend with more than a new team and different system when he first joined Chicago. He also needed shoulder surgery and missed the first 22 games. Tuesday’s game was just his 21st of the season.
“It takes a bunch of games to get used to the system and stop thinking about everything, and right now I’m getting there,” Hossa said.
His four-goal output in the last two games followed a scoring drought in which he only had one goal in nine games.
“He’s been dangerous, even in that stretch where his production was down,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “He was still a threat, had some high quality chances, had some good movement. He’s got a quick stick.”
Chicago (30-10-3) has a four-game winning streak and 63 points, two more than Eastern Conference-leading New Jersey and San Jose.
So is Quenneville surprised by his team’s performance just a little past the halfway point?
“We like the way we’re playing,” he said. “I think at home, we’ve been very effective in a lot of ways. Ask me at the end of that eight-game road trip we got coming up at the end of the month and we’ll have a better idea.”
Patrick Kane(notes) extended his scoring streak to nine games with a power-play goal early in the third that made it 3-1, and Hossa finished the scoring by following in his own rebound from the crease. Minnesota’s Guillaume Latendresse(notes) opened the scoring, and the Blackhawks’ John Madden(notes) also had a goal in the first period.
Moments after he checked Josh Harding(notes) off the puck when the Wild goalie went behind the net, Chicago’s Patrick Sharp(notes) took a carom pass from Brian Campbell(notes) and found Hossa open in the left circle for the go-ahead score at 12:38 of the second.
“I was behind the net and a guy took my legs right out. That should have been tripping,” Harding said. “We can sit here and break down the whole game and make excuse after excuse, but when the final buzzer went off, they won.”
That clearly was a turning point.
“It was a 1-1 game,” Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. “I thought Josh got hit on the play and it ends up as a turnover play in our zone, and you can’t give Hossa that much room. That’s the one thing he can do; he can shoot and he can finish.”
Latendresse scored at 13:52 of the first, taking a centering pass and beating Huet from in front.
Minnesota backup Harding, who entered with a 3-1 career record against Chicago, finished with 29 saves, including a diving glove stop of Kane after he cut across the crease in the first period.
Kane’s goal from the left circle came seconds after a two-man advantage for the Blackhawks expired.
NOTES: The Wild have lost four straight. … Hossa, who scored 40 goals last year for the Red Wings, has 10 so far this season. … D Niklas Hjalmarsson(notes), who missed two games after being hit with a puck while sitting on the bench, returned to the Blackhawks lineup. D Cam Barker(notes) was scratched for Chicago, and Owen Nolan(notes) sat out for the Wild.