Another day on our list of memorable Chicago Blackhawks playoff wins under coach Joel Quenneville, another game against the Minnesota Wild. We touched on an outing from the 2014 postseason on Saturday, and now we’re going back to the most-recent Stanley Cup run for another get-together with our friends from the north.
Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.
No. 34: 2015 Western Conference semifinals, Game 1
Chicago Blackhawks 4, Minnesota Wild 3
This game could ultimately be remember as the twin brother of Game 1 against Nashville a series earlier. Maybe the first game was the evil twin, because the Blackhawks sure didn’t fall behind in this one.
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Brandon Saad got the ball rolling less than 1:30 into the contest with a nice chip pass off the boards to himself. He went around defenseman Ryan Suter in the process, then snapped a shot past Devan Dubnyk to help the United Center erupt early. Suter threw his hands up and skated to the nearest official; perhaps he wanted a penalty called on Saad for being too much like Marian Hossa.
Thomas Vanek had a shot ring off the post about 12 minutes into the opening period, but the Blackhawks didn’t let that worry them. Mikko Koivu won a draw against Antoine Vermette in the Wild offensive zone so decisively that Brad Richards was able to snatch the puck near center ice. He deked a Minnesota defenseman out of his skates and hit Patrick Kane cross ice for a one-timer than beat Dubnyk, putting Chicago ahead 2-0 with less than seven minutes to play in the first.
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A bit of a messy play created Chicago’s third goal of the night not long after the second. Duncan Keith made a simple but important play by tipping the puck past a Wild player to keep it in Chicago’s offensive zone. Andrew Shaw wound up with the puck next and spun around to throw it on Dubnyk. Marcus Kruger was on the doorstep and slammed it home to give the Blackhawks what seemed like a commanding lead.
But anyone who watched the beginning of the Nashville series knew how quickly such leads could be erased, even with Chicago holding one. After Johnny Oduya blasted a shot off the post behind Dubnyk less than a minute into the second, Vanek threw a pass in front of Corey Crawford from along the boards a few minutes later. Jason Zucker was on the doorstep to tip it through Crow and cut Chicago’s lead to two.
Then, after Vertmette and Patrick Sharp were unable to convert a 2-on-1, the Wild converted on a powerplay when Crawford was unable to settle a puck alongside his net. Zach Parise wound up flying into the picture and slamming the puck past Crow to make the UC faithful even more nervous.
With more than 10 minutes to go in the period, the Wild got things all knotted up when Parise and Mikael Granlund combined to steal the puck from Keith behind Crawford, Granlund skated it out in front, turned and snapped a shot past Crow to make it 3-all.
But the Blackhawks would find the only other goal they’d need before the middle frame ended (didn’t have to wait til overtime here). On a seemingly harmless play with less than a minute to go, Teuvo Teravainen flung a puck from the board to Dubnyk’s right, from an area above the circles. Though their was some traffic, Dubnyk just never found the shot and Teravainen had his first playoff goal in the process.
Chicago wound up hanging on and tightened things up through the rest of this series (minus the last couple minutes of Game 4). And Teuvo’s goal made sure he was never held from the lineup …. nah, he was scratched later. But he did some awesome things with fellow scratchee Vermette (as well as Sharp) in even bigger games, and we can look to his goal here as the start of that.
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