The Chicago Blackhawks won the game and the series over the Minnesota Wild, with a 5-1 blowout, as they advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Wild challenged the Hawks to a track meet in the first period, and although they put up a mighty fight, they ultimately lost. The Hawks pushed back the Wild assault with some masterful Penalty Killing, especially from Michael Frolik, the Blackhawks PK artist. At 15:39 of the first, Marian Hossa buried a set-up from Jonathan Toews to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead that would last through the end of the first.
The second period was far less evenly matched than the first period. The Hawks came out flying, as if they wanted to end this series from the drop of the puck to open the second period. Even though the Wild got on the score board with Torrey Mitchell’s goal, that goal was sandwiched between the offensive onslaught that was the Blackhawks second period. Three minutes into the second, Marcus Kruger scored his first career playoff goal, on a beautiful wrap-around. A few minutes later, Marian Hossa added his second goal of the night, and his 3rd of the series overall. After Hossa’s 2nd goal, that was all Minnesota coach Mike Yeo would tolerate from goaltender Josh Harding, who was not 100% healthy to start the game, as he as pulled in favor of rookie, Darcy Kuemper. Mitchell’s goal gave the Wild life and hope, but it was short-lived as Andrew Shaw squashed any momentum the Wild had gained, making it 4-1 Hawks, and it would stay that way to the end of the period.
The Hawks did what they had to do in the third period, and then some. All the Hawks needed to do was keep the Wild at bay, and just ride out the final 20 minutes onto the next round of the post-season. They did that, and Patrick Sharp added his team-leading 5th goal of the post-season to make it 5-1 Hawks, and that’s how it would be as the Blackhawks went on to win the game, as well as the series.
Jonathan Toews tallied his first playoff point of the year with his assist on Marian Hossa’s first goal
Corey Crawford stood on his head all night, and kept the Hawks alive during the first barrage of shots from the Wild.
Bryan Bickell continued his physical play with a bone-crushing hit on Tom Gilbert.
This is the first playoff series win for the Blackhawks since the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.
The Blackhawks have earned some much deserved rest, as they wait to find out who they will face in the second round of the playoffs.