No quarter, no hope, no doubt: The Chicago Blackhawks vaporized the Wild and escaped the first round of the postseason for the first time in three years.
There was the small issue of Minnesota’s history of rebounding from massive playoff deficits, but it was no issue at all in a 5-1 demolition by the Hawks in Game 5 at the United Center, making it a 4-1 series win and a second-round date with the Sharks or the Red Wings beginning next week.
Marian Hossa scored twice and Marcus Kruger, Andrew Shaw and Patrick Sharp added one goal apiece in an emphatic performance that never permitted the Wild much hope at all of extending to a Game 6. The Hawks had been here before, too, having failed to close out a series on home ice during their Stanley Cup run in 2010, but that bit of history wouldn’t repeat itself Thursday.
Then it was Marcus Kruger notching his first career playoff goal to extend the lead and steepen the Wild’s climb. The fourth-line center collected a puck that Josh Harding kicked to the boards, went around to Harding’s left and slid a shot under and through the Wild’s goaltender for a 2-0 lead at the 3:19 mark of the second.
Three minutes later, it was Hossa moving into the hard areas for his second score of the night. A Brandon Saad blast bounced off Harding and onto the doorstep, which Hossa finished off on the backhand for the 3-0 lead at the 6:26 mark.
That sent Harding to the bench, replaced by backup Darcy Kuemper. A dust particle of hope would arrive a few minutes later, when the Wild buzzed Hawks goalie Corey Crawford on a power play, only to come up empty…and then watch as a Torrey Mitchell one-timer seconds later cut the lead to 3-1.
Hope immediately left the building when Andrew Shaw took a carom off the boards in back of the Wild net and beat Kuemper high for his first career playoff goal and a 4-1 lead just 35 seconds after the Wild’s score.
Sharp pounced on a rebound with the Hawks enjoying a 5-on-3 advantage in the third period to record his fifth goal of the series, with Hossa firing a shot toward the net and Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane whacking away before Sharp got the score for a 5-1 edge.