Toews goal in third puts Hawks up on Wild
CHICAGO — Jonathan Toews had a rebound goal early in the third period, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 on Sunday night to take a 3-2 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
Bryan Bickell also scored and Corey Crawford made 27 saves as Chicago bounced back from consecutive losses in Minnesota that handed the momentum to the Wild heading into Game 5.
But the Blackhawks were back at the United Center, where they improved to 6-0 in this post-season and 17-2 over the past two playoffs.
Erik Haula scored in the first period for the Wild, and Ilya Bryzgalov had 26 stops. Minnesota became the first team to score first in the second round of the NHL playoffs and lose, dropping that record to 19-1, according to STATS.
Game 6 is Tuesday night in Minnesota, where the Wild are undefeated in this post-season.
Minnesota had a chance to grab the lead in the third but Crawford made a nice kick save on Cody McCormick about 2 1/2 minutes into the period. He also had a solid glove stop on Ryan Suter with the Blackhawks clinging to a 2-1 lead with 4:38 to go.
Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp combined to put Chicago in front 4 1/2 minutes into the third. Hossa sent the puck in front to Toews at the right post. The captain was stopped by Bryzgalov, but he managed to slam home a backhand for his fifth of the playoffs.
Toews also had a big hit on Wild forward Mikael Granlund right before he scored the winning goal.
The first period looked similar to much of the past two games in Minnesota, with the Wild using their speed and checking ability to shut down Chicago’s high-powered attack.
The Wild also outworked the defending Stanley Cup champions early on as Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville tried several line combinations looking for a spark.
Blackhawks defenceman Brent Seabrook was whistled for tripping just 29 seconds into the game, and Granlund sent an open look off the outside of the right post on the ensuing power play.
A terrific individual effort by Haula put Minnesota in front at 16:33 of the first. He drove through the Chicago zone and kept moving after his first try was stopped by Crawford, flipping a backhand into the net for his third goal of the post-season.
It was still 1-0 at the conclusion of the first period, leading to some boos from the frustrated crowd of 22,016. The Wild had eight shots on goal at the first break, compared to six for the Blackhawks.
Chicago started to generate more chances in the second, but most of its early shots came from outside and Bryzgalov gobbled them up easily.
Marcus Kruger sent a pass through the Minnesota crease, but no one was there for the Blackhawks.
It took a well-timed dash by a seldom-used role player to set up Chicago’s third goal in the past three games. Playing for the first time since April 12, Peter Regin drove to the net to draw a hooking penalty on Jonas Brodin.
Regin was active for the first time in the playoffs after the Blackhawks scratched Andrew Shaw with a lower-body injury, and Brandon Bollig sat out with a two-game suspension for boarding Wild defenceman Keith Ballard in Game 4.
On the ensuing power play, Patrick Kane’s slap shot went off Bickell’s left leg and past Bryzgalov to make it 1-1 at 9:18 of the second. It was Bickell’s sixth goal of the playoffs.
The Blackhawks outshot the Wild 15-6 in the second, but it was still tied going into the third.