Kane’s clutch play powers Blackhawks past Wild
Chicago 5 Minnesota 2
CHICAGO — Patrick Kane scored two goals for Chicago in the third period, including a terrific dash through the Minnesota zone for the tiebreaking score, and the Blackhawks beat the Wild 5-2 in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Friday night.
Bryan Bickell also scored twice for the Blackhawks, who have won five in a row after losing their first two playoff games. Marian Hossa had a goal and two assists as the defending Stanley Cup champions made the most of two costly high-sticking penalties on Minnesota defenceman Jonas Brodin.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Sunday.
The Wild showed no sign of any fatigue just two days after their dramatic 5-4 overtime win in Game 7 of their first-round series against Colorado. Playing in the second round of the post-season for the first time since 2003, Minnesota used third-period goals from Clayton Stoner and Kyle Brodziak to tie it at 2.
Brodziak’s third goal of playoffs on a slick pass from Erik Haula silenced the sellout crowd of 21,116 with 13:04 left, but Kane then electrified the United Center once again with his 33rd playoff goal.
The flashy wing carried the puck into the Minnesota zone, hesitated as teammate Patrick Sharp skated behind him, and then split Brodziak and Brodin on his way to the net. He finished the play by roofing a backhand over goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov’s left shoulder at 8:22.
Kane then yelled “Showtime!” twice and pumped his right arm as the delirious crowd cheered wildly. But he was only getting started.
The 2013 Conn Smythe Trophy winner picked up his fifth goal of the playoffs on a nice pass from Ben Smith, and Bickell added an empty-netter as Chicago pulled away.
Minnesota went 0 for 3 on the power play in a disturbing sign after it struggled with the man advantage in its first-round playoff series against Chicago a year ago. The Wild were unsuccessful on all 17 power-play chances when they were eliminated by the Blackhawks in five games in 2013.
Bryzgalov had 17 saves in his first start since he was pulled from Minnesota’s 4-2 loss to the Avalanche in Game 2.
Darcy Kuemper took over for the Wild in net until he got hurt in the third period of the final game, and Bryzgalov made one save to help the Wild advance.
Kuemper is day to day with an upper-body injury, but Wild coach Mike Yeo said before Game 1 against the Blackhawks that the goalie was not in Chicago, making it unlikely that he’ll be able to play Sunday.
Bryzgalov got off to a slow start, and Chicago used the penalties on Brodin to build a 2-0 lead. Bickell tipped in Brent Seabrook’s slap shot at 14:48 of the first, and then had some fancy footwork on the Blackhawks’ second goal in the second period.
Nick Leddy made a nice pass to Brandon Saad streaking through the middle of the Minnesota zone. Saad then sent a backhand pass toward the left side of the net that Bickell stepped over, leaving it for Hossa to flip into the open side of the goal at 11:21.
The rest of the period belonged to Minnesota, which outshot Chicago 17-3 in the second. Mikael Granlund had a shot go high off the left post, and Corey Crawford made nice glove saves on Wild captain Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise.
Crawford finished with 30 saves after he made 35 stops in Chicago’s 5-1 victory over St. Louis in Game 6 on Sunday, closing out the series for the Blackhawks.
NOTES: The Blackhawks lost C Andrew Shaw to a lower-body injury in the first period. ... Blackhawks F Kris Versteeg was scratched for the second straight playoff game in favour of Joakim Nordstrom. It was Nordstrom’s second career playoff game.