When the Minnesota North Stars were a team, they had a pretty fierce rivalry with the Chicago Black Hawks and Chicago Blackhawks. After the team moved to Dallas, Minnesota received the Wild. That rivalry just hasn’t transferred over to the Blackhawks and Wild, even after three consecutive playoff series between the teams over the last three seasons.
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It was different with Vancouver between 2009 and 2011. There was real hatred between the Blackhawks and Canucks during those years of consecutive playoff meetings, and it always festered and grew more during the postseason. With the Wild, it’s like a dull irritation at best, though someone thinks the two teams are now rivals because they’re in the same division and have matched up a lot in recent playoffs.
Tough news for ya, guy or gal: The Wild are baby brother until further notice. And with that loving sentiment, we blast ahead to the next entry on our countdown of top Blackhawks playoff wins under coach Joel Quenneville … which involves the Wild.
Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.
No. 43: 2013 Western Conference first round, Game 2
Chicago Blackhawks 5, Minnesota Wild 2
This already marks the eighth (!) time we’ve seen the Wild on this list. Stop boring us, the Wild. This game moves up the list from previous Minnesota affairs because it was a tight one throughout, and then all hell broke loose in the third period. Let’s break it down.
Some back-and-forth chances early didn’t result in much, though it’s nice a highlight video noted a “good stick” play by Niklas Hjalmarsson. That play almost led to a goal for the Blackhawks about eight minutes into this one. Michal Handzus took the puck up ice after Hjammer’s play and dropped it to Duncan Keith just above the circles. Keith wired a shot on net, and Patrick Kane wound up knocking it down with his stick and following up to push the puck past Josh Harding for … a waved-off goal.
This one was pretty straightforward, as even Kane knew he had kicked the puck in, though he tried to get a stick on it before it crossed the goal line.
Tough to see here, but the puck had just come off that slanted skate. (Screenshot from YouTube)
The Blackhawks wouldn’t have to wait long for their first real tally, however. Less than a minute later, Andrew Shaw was given ample space through the neutral zone, eventually allowing him to wind up a shot just inside the blue line. Defenseman Justin Falk got in the way of that shot, but the puck bounced awkwardly all the way to the doorstep at Harding’s right. Michael Frolik had beaten Tom Gilbert and Zenon Konopka to that area, allowing him to slap the puck home for a 1-0 Chicago lead.
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Marian Hossa would smash a shot off the goal post a minute after that, showing the Blackhawks were rolling offensively. The Wild had their own bid around the same time, though, as Brent Seabrook fell in the neutral zone to create a 2-0n-1 for Devin Setoguchi and Jason Zucker against Nick Leddy. But Corey Crawford got a pad out to stop Setoguchi.
No one else would score in the first, but Chicago wouldn’t wait long to tally in the second. With Jonathan Toews sent off for a high-sticking penalty just 34 seconds into the frame, the penalty kill unit of Marcus Kruger, Frolik, Keith and Hjalmarsson forechecked the Wild out of their skates. Keith would eventually wind up with the puck and give it to Frolik entering the offensive zone. Frolik dished it back to Keith, who put a backhander on the legs of traffic in front of Harding. Again the puck took a generous bounce to Frolik, this time right in the slot, and he snapped a shot past Harding for a 2-0 lead.
Josh Harding has a sad. (Screenshot from YouTube)
The Wild would start to push back in the middle part of the period, with a boarding penalty against Brandon Bollig (duh) giving them another powerplay. A won draw in their offensive zone led to what looked like 15 shots on net against Crawford, as well as Zach Parise‘s bid off the post right in front. Somehow, Crow kept the door shut for the time being.
The Blackhawks then received a powerplay of their own about four minutes later and started it with a fantastic pass from Kane to Toews, who was pretty much in the net with Harding. Somehow, the goaltender got a pad back to stop the captain’s tap-in.
This goes in the dictionary under “robbery.” (Screenshot from YouTube)
The Wild would be the ones to end the period on a high note, scoring with less than three minutes to go. Matt Cullen accepted a float pass from deep in his defensive zone all the way to center ice. The Blackhawks got caught in a line change, giving Cullen a clear lane to Setoguchi streaking toward Crawford. Setoguchi roofed one over Crow’s left side, cutting the Chicago lead to one.
So how would the third period top this excitement? With more goals scored than were seen in the first two periods combined. The Patrick Sharp-Handzus-Kane line, with Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival on D, got the scoring started, as improbable as that sounds. Kane sent a dirty backhand pass right between the circles for Handzus, but the aging forward had his stick tied up and could only fling the puck behind the net. Enter Kane again, who went to the puck and slipped it to Sharp on Harding’s left doorstep. Showing some incredible hands, Sharp went forehand to backhand in a second and beat Harding to put Chicago back up by a pair.
The Blackhawks kept bringing the fire in these last 20, with Saad getting two consecutive bids right in front at one point and Kane spin-o-rama’ing for another. Mikko Koivu also committed two penalties in the frame to give Chicago some extra chances.
And then Kane gave Sharp the easiest goal of the latter’s life with about six minutes to go, taking all the attention right above the circles before giving Sharp a pass and leaving him with an empty net at the right doorstep. Chicago appeared on its way up 4-1.
But wait, there’s more! Harding would atone for his lost sight of the fourth goal with a huge sprawling save on Kane just moments later. The Wild then responded, winning board battles and puck scrums in the Chicago zone with about 3:30 to go. Marco Scandella would wind up with the puck above the circles, and he hammered a shot through traffic and past Crawford to keep things interesting.
That was as interesting as they could make it, however, as the Blackhawks would ice the game after Koivu’s second penalty of the period killed the Wild’s momentum. Just to rub it in, Bryan Bickell somehow beat Jared Spurgeon in a footrace to a puck and wound up tapping it into an empty net as a result.
The Wild would manage a win in the next game of this series, but the Blackhawks were more or less off and running after this victory. They’d storm by the Wild in Games 4 and 5 en route to the team’s second Stanley Cup in four years.
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