Crawford, Saad help Hawks bounce back with 5-1 victory over Wild - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Crawford, Saad help Hawks bounce back with 5-1 victory over Wild

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

With a more determined effort the Chicago Blackhawks got back on track and defeated the Wild in Minnesota 5-1. The Hawks took advantage of opportunities and Corey Crawford made sure the Wild couldn't capitalize on their chances. A big reason for the lopsided score was because Crawford outplayed his counterpart Niklas Backstrom by a good margin.

The Hawks passing improved and they played at a quicker pace than in the previous two losses. When the pace heats up the Chicago offense should generate scoring chances and they kept plugging away Monday night. There are things the Blackhawks can improve on but as long as Crawford doesn't string together poor performances they should avoid long losing streaks.

Joel Quenneville has to be feeling good after his squad played a solid third period. They blanked the Wild in the final frame while scoring two times and finally cruised to a win.

Quenneville is likely pleased with his newly formed second line of Brandon Saad, Brandon Pirri and Patrick Kane who had a combined six points. Saad and Kane hooked up for a highlight reel goal and the line was noticeable for much of the game. As Quenneville mentioned in post game remarks, the key to that line will be how they play with the puck in their own zone.

Quenneville may have found a couple of pleasant surprises every team needs. The third line with recent call-up Jeremy Morin skating with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickel has been effective. The same can be said of newcomer Brad Mills who has been skating on the fourth line. Mills seems to have an ally in Quenneville as the coach was high on him during training camp.

Mills also was thrown into the mix on the penalty killing unit. Versus Minnesota, he played 2:08 on the PK and was sound. Morin and Mills could provide a spark and some continuity if they keep playing as well as they have since being recalled from Rockford.

Quenneville went to his go to "fixer" and had Marian Hossa play with Patrick Sharp. Hossa has been the best Chicago forward in every zone this season and with his help Sharp finally scored his second goal of the year.

The night belonged to Brandon Saad who was used on the power play as well as the penalty killing unit. Quenneville deserves credit for being high on Saad from the beginning. Now in only his second full season Saad has proven to not only be a top six forward but a complete player as well. Currently Saad ranks third on the team with three goals and eight assists.

Sheldon Brookbank notched a goal and had another nice outing. His partner Nick Leddy recorded a power play goal. My thinking has been for awhile Leddy deserves to be the main point man on the power play. It may also be time for Brookbank to stay in the lineup for awhile, and Leddy would probably benefit playing with a set partner.

The Blackhawks will return to home ice Tuesday to face the Ottawa Senators who have been idle since Sunday. This game will mark the last time the Hawks will face an Eastern Conference foe until December 8 when they square off with Florida.

The Sens are only 3-5-2 over the last 10 games but they do have a winning record on the road. Crawford played well and it remains to be seen if Quenneville will give Nikolai Khabibulin a chance to regain his form versus Ottawa.

It wouldn't be a shock if Quenneville comes right back with Crawford as the Hawks won't play again until Saturday. Michal Handzus has been declared out for Tuesday night's match so Quenneville could dress the same lineup from Monday.

No matter who skates for the Blackhawks Tuesday, once again committing to a defense-first attitude is most important. In Minnesota, Quenneville's squad played better as the game wore on and didn't allow a power play goal on three attempts.

It was a very good road win for the Blackhawks and something to build on.

I will be back on Wednesday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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