We’re entering our 11th entry on the list of most memorable Chicago Blackhawks playoff wins under coach Joel Quenneville, and we’ve reached our first series-clinching game. There’s no rule for this countdown saying series-clinching games have to stay near the top (there are no rules at all). And, if you’ve checked in with other entries from this series, you probably know which opposing team will be represented here.
Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.
No. 63: 2013 Western Conference first round, Game 5
Chicago Blackhawks 5, Minnesota Wild 1
For as far apart as these teams ended up on the scoreboard after 60 minutes had passed, the Wild looked like the better team early in this one. But when the Blackhawks get going, it can be extremely difficult to shut them down.
Corey Crawford needed to make some big saves in the game’s first 10 minutes to keep the contest scoreless. On one Wild bid, Devin Setoguchi held the puck behind Crawford’s net and fed an unguarded Jason Zucker. Crawford came out to contest the short-range shot, knocking it down with a shoulder save. On another chance — this one coming on the powerplay — Jason Pominville streaked down the boards to Crawford’s left and found Mikko Koivu sitting in front of the crease. Crawford showed very strong side-to-side movement in stopping an ensuing front-porch tip-in chance from Koivu.
And then the Blackhawks put their quick-strike capability on display with about 4:30 to go in the first. Johnny Oduya dumped the puck in, and Wild goaltender Josh Harding came out to play it. As the Blackhawks tend to do to goaltenders who get sloppy playing outside their crease, they made Harding pay. Jonathan Toews grabbed the puck off Harding’s attempted feed to a teammate and shoveled it to Marian Hossa, who absolutely sniped one short side on Harding to open the scoring.
Da Windy City
From there on, the Blackhawks poured it on the Wild, though not in the cleanest of efforts. Some defensive-zone turnovers could have cost Chicago dearly in this one, but Crawford had a very strong game. Marcus Kruger would put the Blackhawks up 2-0 just more than 3 minutes into the second after Michael Frolik threw the puck into the offensive zone. It banged off the end boards behind Harding, and Kruger came flying in to retrieve it. A bewildered Harding didn’t move from one side of his net to the other quickly enough, resulting in Kruger actually throwing the puck off Harding’s body and letting it bounce in. No one other than Kruger and Harding seemed aware it was in, but it certainly counted on the scoreboard.
Harding and defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who may have tried out for the lead role in the new “Ant Man” movie, would team up to help the Blackhawks to their third goal about 6:30 into the middle frame. A confusing line of Brandon Saad, Kruger and Hossa did some nice board battling on this possession, with Kruger carrying the puck out of one such battle and feeding Saad. He put the puck on net, and Harding came up with the stop. But he and Spurgeon couldn’t decide what to do next, and Hossa simply skated between them, stole the puck and pushed it past Harding for a 3-0 Blackhawks lead. That Hossa … he’s crafty.
More From Blackhawk Up – Blackhawks Convention Has Some Big Stars Missing
After that goal, Darcy Kuemper was inserted into Minnesota’s net in an attempt to spark the Wild. To some extent it worked, as Torrey Mitchell notched a goal off a sweet centering pass from Kyle Brodziak halfway through the second. One could argue apparent miscommunication between Michal Rozsival and Nick Leddy led to this goal more than Kuemper coming into the game, but it was what it was.
Regardless, the Wild wouldn’t score again. The Blackhawks would, though. And quickly at that. Bryan Bickell did almost exactly what Frolik had done earlier in the period, chucking the puck off the boards behind the Wild goal. Again, the puck bounced out the other side, and this time Andrew Shaw was right there to tap the puck past a slow-adjusting Kuemper. Just 25 seconds after Minnesota’s goal, the Blackhawks led by 3 once more.
They’d extend the lead to 4 on a 5-on-3 powerplay early in the third, with Toews and Patrick Sharp simultaneously slapping at a puck below the circles and stopping one another from doing anything while Kuemper flailed around in the crease. Sharp wound up getting enough of the puck to put it into the net and create the final margin of victory.
Crawford had to make some nice saves in the final frame, but it was relatively elementary. He had a great outing, killing a lot of Minnesota’s early momentum while stopping 21 total shots. Hossa was also a monster in this game, tallying three points and compiling five shots on net. His name is said in the above highlight package nearly every time the Blackhawks have an offensive play going.
This win pushed the Blackhawks to the Western Conference semifinals, where they would meet the Detroit Red Wings in what would be a highly entertaining series. While this was a clincher, it slides down on this countdown because it was a generally sloppy game, and outings against the Wild just don’t tend to be that memorable. Blame Minnesota — the guys in Chicago are consistently exciting to watch.
More from Blackhawk Up
- Blackhawks: Three Noticeable Improvements in Comeback Win vs Blues
- Blackhawks: Key Takeaways from 3-2 win over the Blues
- Blackhawks: Grading Connor Murphy and a position comparison
- Blackhawks: Shuffling the lines to try and spark offense at 5 on 5
- These Lineup Changes could Solve the Blackhawks’ Scoring Problem