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Top Chicago Blackhawks Playoff Wins: Open And Close

By Colin Likas
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We’ve got to be running out of games between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild to talk about in our countdown of most memorable playoff wins under coach Joel Quenneville. You’d be right to assume that; this is our penultimate game against the Wild. But it’s an interesting one considering the game we talked about in this series’ previous post.

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The 34th entry on this list was a 4-3 Chicago win against Minnesota in the teams’ 2015 series. The 33rd entry is …

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

No. 33: 2015 Western Conference semifinals

Chicago Blackhawks 4, Minnesota Wild 3

Yeah, we’re not only having back-to-back Minnesota games, but back-to-back Minnesota games from the same series with the same score. Of course, if you were watching this game, you probably weren’t thinking this would be the final score as time wound down. This one got pretty weird at the end.

Going into it, Chicago was seeking a rare Stanley Cup playoff series sweep after Patrick Kane‘s single goal and Corey Crawford‘s goaltending secured Game 3 for the Blackhawks at Xcel Energy Center.

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But the game’s first decent scoring chance went to the hosts when Jonas Brodin sent a wrister in low on Crawford, who let a rebound roll out to defenseman Ryan Suter pinching in. But Suter missed the puck and the bid was thwarted.

The game’s first goal would come on a far less enticing chance, when Brent Seabrook carried a puck into his offensive zone and just flipped a shot at Devan Dubnyk. The goaltender essentially missed the puck, letting it go between his glove and body, and Seabrook had the Blackhawks up 1-0 about 10 minutes into the game.

Brad Richards had a fine chance later in the period when Kane stole a puck along the offensive-zone boards, but Richards was in too tight, and Dubnyk was able to hug the post to his left and stop Richards’ shot.

Still, the Blackhawks would tally the next goal, though this one would be a little dirtier in nature than the first. After some nice passing, Jonathan Toews wound up with the puck below the circle to Dubnyk’s left. Toews tried to feed the puck to Kane on the opposite side, but a Wild player knocked that down and created a scramble in front of the net that included Andrew Shaw. Dubnyk somehow wasn’t low enough to the ice, and Shaw wound up hacking the puck beneath the goaltender to give Chicago a powerplay goal and a 2-0 edge less than five minutes into the second.

Unfortunately, this was also the game in which Michal Rozsival‘s ankle gave out. Suter flipped a puck high out of the Wild’s defensive zone, and it dropped right in front of Thomas Vanek and Rozsival, As Vanek secured the puck and moved forward, Rozsival took an awkward step backward and crumpled to the ice. It gave Vanek a breakaway, which Crawford turned away. But more importantly, that was the end of Rozsival’s playoffs, and it could have been the last on-ice moment of his career.

Still, the Wild might’ve been feeling it a bit after that chance. After a won draw in the offensive zone, Mathew Dumba blasted a shot high on Crawford. Crow turned it aside but left a juicy rebound for both Matt Cooke and Erik Haula, who prove irritating for totally different reasons. Haula wound up putting it past Crawford to cut Chicago’s lead in half not even midway through the second.

Crawford had to make some big stops right at his doorstep with less than seven minutes to go in the second, and though he was shoved into his own net, he kept the puck from entering it.

Toews had a nice chance on the man-advantage early in the third, taking a point shot from Duncan Keith and trying to shove it in down low. But Dubnyk sprawled across the crease to block off that opportunity. Crawford would respond with a nice save of his own a few minutes later when Johnny Oduya‘s stick exploded on a shot attempt, creating a 2-on-1 for the Wild with Niklas Hjalmarsson back. Zach Parise got a shot off, but Crow shouldered it aside.

So the score of this game was still 2-1 with less than seven minutes to go in regulation. How did we wind up at 4-3? Kane, who was annihilating the Wild in this series before the fourth game, took a little feed from Bryan Bickell going across the blue line and absolutely sniped it off and over Dubnyk’s right shoulder. The puck trickled across the goal line and gave the Blackhawks what seemed like a comfortable 3-1 lead.

Things got even more comfortable when, after some great saves by both Dubnyk and Crawford, Marian Hossa wired a puck from right in front of Crow all the way into an empty net, putting the Blackhawks ahead 4-1 with about three minutes to go.

And yet …

Chicago was killing a penalty when the empty-netter happened, so the Wild were still on a powerplay when the clock restarted. Jared Spurgeon ripped a shot from the point with 2:18 to go and had it tipped by Jason Pominville and past Crawford to secure a powerplay goal and cut Chicago’s lead to two.

No problem yet. Not until Minnesota scored again less than a minute later, anyway. With the net empty again, Minnesota took advantage of its home boards when Suter ripped a shot from the point. With Crawford woefully out of position trying to freeze the puck, Nino Niederreiter picked up the puck and fired it into the twine while parallel with the goal line, and suddenly the Wild were within one.

And then, the Blackhawks committed a too-many-men penalty with 15 seconds left. Fifteen. We had to sweat out some 6-on-4 chances for Minnesota, but Crawford and the Blackhawks skated away with a series sweep, advancing to the Western Conference finals in the process.

A moment of hilarity as the final horn sounded. I don’t recall having seen this in real time, and it’s been awhile since I’ve watched highlights from this game. Hjalmarsson, who threw a Nashville Predators stick after scoring in Game 1 of Chicago’s 2015 first-round series, apparently just needs to let his excitement out by throwing things. You can see him in the lower part of the screen in the above highlight video throwing his stick against the boards as the game goes final. He was probably part excited and part frustrated that things got so tight late. We know Hjammer, we know.

Previous entries

No. 34 | No. 35 | No. 36 | No. 37 | No. 38 | No. 39 | No. 40 | No. 41 | No. 42 | No. 43 | No. 44 | No. 45 | 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

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