If the Chicago Blackhawks’ most recent Stanley Cup playoff run sticks out in your mind more than games from any other year, don’t worry. That’s completely normal. And though we haven’t touched on a lot of 2015 postseason games in our countdown of most memorable Blackhawks playoff wins under Joel Quenneville, we’re about to get a heavy dose in these next few entries.
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What we have seen a lot of in this series is games against Minnesota. Sorry to say we’re headed back to that territory today.
Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.
No. 37: 2015 Western Conference semifinals, Game 2
Chicago Blackhawks 4, Minnesota Wild 1
You might remember this series as the Patrick Kane Series. The Wikipedia page for the Wild was briefly changed to read that Kane was the team owner after he scored five goals for the Blackhawks in four games. But it is a little awkward to discuss Kane’s on-ice exploits when he’s embroiled in a criminal investigation. Still, we’re recounting Blackhawks history, and we couldn’t possibly count him out, so on we roll.
Kane had this game’s first good scoring chance when Brad Richards dropped a pass back for Kane while the latter was entering the offensive zone. In a 2-on-1.5, Kane decided to attempt a pass to Bryan Bickell, but Jared Spurgeon blocked the lane with his stick and ended that bid. Just moments later, Thomas Vanek had a couple of opportunities right in front of Corey Crawford off a Jason Zucker pass. For his efforts, Vanek wound up with a goaltender interference penalty.
A powerplay would see the Blackhawks score their first goal, but not the powerplay created by Vanek’s penalty. In fact, it’d be a penalty against Andrew Shaw midway through the second period that Chicago would use to its benefit.
Defenseman Ryan Suter took too much time settling the puck down for Minnesota just outside their offensive zone. Marian Hossa came by and stole it away, leaving Hossa and Jonathan Toews on a 2-on-1. Hossa streaked down the board to Devan Dubnyk’s right and threw the puck in front to Toews. The captain one-timed a shot on net, and Dubnyk got a piece … but not enough. The puck bounced over the goaltender’s shoulder and just barely across the goal line as Minnesota scrambled, to no avail, to pull it out of harm’s way.
Kyle Brodziak had a nice breakaway bid stoned by Crawford later in the period, and a short time after that, Zach Parise had a great rebound chance stopped by Crow’s right pad from the doorstep.
The Blackhawks would turn this all back against the Wild with less than a minute to go in the middle frame. On a delayed offsides against Minnesota, Duncan Keith wired a pass from just inside his defensive blue line to Kane at the offensive blue line. Kane skated in and snapped a shot past Dubnyk stick side for what would eventually wind up being the game-winner.
The third period didn’t start as well for Chicago, with defenseman Mathew Dumba flinging a shot high over Crawford’s left shoulder from an awkward angle on the powerplay less than two minutes in to bring Minnesota back within one. It was the closest the Wild would get.
Chicago’s third line made sure of that, starting with a Teuvo Teravainen steal in the neutral zone while Minnesota was trying to change lines. Teuvo swatted the puck to Patrick Sharp as the latter was entering the offensive zone alongside Antoine Vermette. Sharp was never thinking of passing as he sniped one through Dubnyk to put Chicago back up by two with about 12:20 to go.
Brandon Saad had a steal of his own about four minutes later, flicking a shot high off Dubnyk. Though the goaltender almost played it into his own net, the Wild skated free from their mistake that time.
Marco Scandella created a very scary moment for Chicago fans with less than eight minutes to go in this one when he absolutely hammered a shot from just inside his blue line. The shot appeared to hit Crawford up in the shoulder or head area, causing him to noticeably sway on his skates for a few seconds. With Crow’s concussion history, you couldn’t blame fellow Blackhawks fans for taking an extra sip or two from their beverages after that play, even though Crow turned out to be OK.
He could’ve used a drink too. (Screenshot from YouTube)
Showing he was worthy of being called a Cup champion, Crawford turned away a Mikko Koivu backhander just seconds after Scandella’s ripper.
Minnesota could daze but not confuse Crawford, though, and the Blackhawks wrapped this one up with about two minutes to go. Niklas Hjalmarsson knocked down a Wild scoring bid, with the puck going to Sharp. Despite falling to one knee, Sharp cleared it to Kane, who was streaking toward three Wild defenders and an empty net. He danced through two and shot it past all three and into the twine to ice the contest.
The win gave the Blackhawks a 2-0 series lead in a pair of impressive showings, though few would have predicted they’d carry the success over to Minnesota immediately afterward en route to a four-game sweep.
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