Top Chicago Blackhawks Playoff Wins: Sluggish Start

By Colin Likas

We haven’t featured a playoff game in a while on our countdown of top Chicago Blackhawks playoff wins under Joel Quenneville. It’s also been a little while since we’ve had a Minnesota Wild game on this list. Let’s change both of those today.

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Though the Blackhawks rolled past the Wild in the teams’ first of three playoff series over three consecutive years, not all parts of this five-gamer were easy. In fact, Chicago looked a little sluggish out of the gate, leading to some drama at the end of the opening game.

Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.

No. 45: 2013 Western Conference first round, Game 1

Chicago Blackhawks 2, Minnesota Wild 1 (OT)

Ah, another game for which we can enjoy the soothing sounds of Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk calling the action.

Blackhawks fans had reason to be worried early in this one, as Jason Zucker created the game’s first scoring chance just over two minutes in. He blew around Brent Seabrook and tried to cut in on Corey Crawford, but Seabrook responded with a forearm shiver to knock Zucker off balance. Unfortunately, Zucker went flying into Crawford as a result, and the goaltender was a little slow to respond. Thankfully, he was alright in the end.

He might not have been alright immediately afterward, though. Cal Clutterbcuk tallied his first career playoff goal a few minutes after the Zucker-Crawford collision, with the puck going short side around Michal Rozsival. Though it was the only goal Crawford would allow, it was really one he should have had. Maybe he still had some cobwebs to shake after the collision.

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  • The Blackhawks continued the theme of sluggishness on their first powerplay of the game when Duncan Keith attempted to keep a pass in the offensive zone with his skate. The puck bounced past him and down the ice for Matt Cullen, whose semi-breakaway was stopped by Crawford and a backchecking Marian Hossa.

    Chicago’s first real decent chance came more than midway through the second when Viktor Stalberg took advantage of some space given to him by Ryan Suter and fired a wrister on Josh Harding. The goaltender made an awkward stop and gave up a rebound, and a charging Bryan Bickell just missed a rebound bid.

    Minnesota, however, kept its own good chances coming. Very late in the first period, Kyle Brodziak and Charlie Coyle wound up with a 2-on-1 with only Seabrook back. Seabrook hit the ice to take out Brodziak’s scoring lane, but he simply waited until Seabrook had slid by and wired a shot at Crawford’s pads. Brodziak then collected the rebound and went for an elevated attempt, but Crow snagged that with his glove.

    The Blackhawks showed signs of waking up early in the second when they received a powerplay within the period’s first minute. Jonathan Toews wired a shot on Harding, who gave up a rebound that rolled toward an undefended Patrick Kane. Harding was able to stand tall on Kane’s following shot, keeping the Blackhawks off the board.

    Apparently, that was what Chicago needed to get sparked offensively. On a 4-on-4 rush toward the end of the same powerplay, Kane found Hossa with a backhand pass through about three sticks. Hossa beat a sprawling Harding with a wrist shot to tie the game at 1.

    The blur by the right foot of the skater in front of Kane is the puck. (Screenshot from YouTube)

    There were plenty of scoring chances to talk about between this goal and the next one, which wouldn’t happen for quite a while. But we’re going to jump to some pretty crazy bids in the third period. The first came around the halfway mark after Kane put a shot toward the Wild net. The puck appeared to be under a Wild player right in front of Harding, and after a ton of poking and proding, Hossa had jammed the puck into the net. But it was determined the whistle had already been blown to call the play dead, so that play was erased.

    About two minutes later, Zucker was at it again with a pretty good chance to Crawford’s right. Crow soaked up a wrister but ended up losing the puck back to Zucker, who went behind the net for a wraparound on the woefully out-of-position Crawford. Luckily, both Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson got over to mess with Zucker’s next chance. The puck would eventually find Kane leaving the zone, and he dropped it to an undefended Patrick Sharp above the circles. Sharp’s shot wound up hitting Jared Spurgeon in the back, saving the Wild.

    Hossa would have a great chance just a few minutes into overtime, as he walked out in front of Harding but saw his backhander stopped by the goaltender’s stick. Then, about 7:30 into the frame, Zucker took a faceoff win and blasted a shot off the goal post to Crawford’s right.

    Zach Parise could have ended this game with about 4:40 to go in the first overtime, as a Minnesota 3-on-2 saw him get the puck with quite a bit of space above the circles. Crawford would get his blocker on Parise’s wrister, however, to keep this game tied. The Blackhawks then took the puck back the other way, but Hossa and Sharp were stoned by Harding.

    The game-winner would come about a minute after all that, when Johnny Oduya banked a pass high off the boards to Stalberg entering the offensive zone. Knowing he had Bickell streaking up the middle, Stalberg stopped in line with the circle nearest to him and sent a perfect pass to Bickell in front of Harding. The forward outwaited the goaltender and slid the puck under his left pad to end this one.

    Though the Blackhawks outshot the Wild by 10 in this one, it didn’t feel like the men in the Indian Head had their best stuff. They pretty much brought it the rest of the series, however, outscoring Minnesota 15-6 in the next four games.

    Previous entries

    No. 46 | No. 47 | No. 48 | No. 49 | No. 50 | No. 51 | No. 52 | No. 53 | No. 54 | No. 55 | No. 56 | No. 57 | No. 58 | No. 59 | No. 60 | No. 61 | No. 62 | No. 63 | No. 64 | No. 65 | No. 66 | No. 67 | No. 68 | No. 69 | No. 70 | No. 71 | No. 72 | No. 73

    Next: Duncan Keith In Review

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