Playing in front of a roaring United Center crowd in Game 1 of the second round of the NHL playoffs wasn’t where the Blackhawks expected to find themselves after finishing third in the Central Division, but the defending Stanley Cup champions were happy to take it.
“The way it played out really gives our team energy,” coach Joel Quenneville said before the Hawks took the ice Friday night against the Wild. “We like where we’re at, we certainly feel excited about having home ice to start the series.”
The Hawks showed that as they rode the emotion of the partisan crowd to claim a 5-2 victory over the Wild and draw first blood in the best-of-seven series that will continue Sunday at home.
Patrick Kane broke a 2-2 tie with 11:38 left in the third period and added another goal a little over eight minutes later. Bryan Bickell and Marian Hossa scored on power plays in the first and second respectively, and Bickell added an empty-net goal 32 seconds after Kane’s second goal.
Corey Crawford made 30 saves to record the victory over a Wild team that was playing less than 48 hours after advancing with a Game 7 victory over the top-seeded Avalanche. Ilya Bryzgalov, who was starting in place of the injured Darcy Kuemper, took the loss.
Clayton Stoner and Kyle Brodziak scored for the Wild early in the third period before Kane got his first score.
The result was costly as midway through the first period, Andrew Shaw limped off the ice favoring his right leg after a big hit along the boards from Stoner. Shaw went to the Hawks’ dressing room and did not return.
The first surprise of the night came when the official roster was released and Joakim Nordstrom remained in the lineup while Kris Versteeg was again a scratch. Versteeg appeared poised to return after sitting out against the Blues in Game 6 of the first round but Quenneville stuck with the rookie.
Before the game, Quenneville spoke of the Hawks’ need to reduce penalties after playing undisciplined at times in Round 1. Shaw apparently didn’t get the memo as the forward was sent off just 3 minutes, 13 seconds into the game for interfering with Wild center Mikko Koivu.
Like it did against the Blues when it erased 27 of 29 penalties, the Hawks’ penalty kill came to the rescue and held the Wild to one shot on goal that Crawford stopped.
The Wild ran into its own penalty woes when Jonas Brodin got his stick up on Hossa. With the Hawks winger bleeding from his lip, the Wild defenseman was sent off for four minutes.
Bickell cashed in when he redirected a Brent Seabrook shot from the point past Bryzgalov. That continued Bickell’s playoff resurgence with his third goal after recording 11 during the regular season. Seabrook remained on an offensive path with his team-high fifth assist during the postseason despite serving a three-game suspension during the Blues series.
Another Brodin high stick gave the Hawks a man advantage in the second and Hossa converted after a terrific play by Brandon Saad to take the puck to the net and put a pass right on his teammate’s stick. Hossa didn’t miss when the veteran fired a shot into the back of the net.
Early in the third, Stoner was credited with a goal when his shot deflected off the skate of Hawks defenseman Johnny Oduya and trickled over the line.
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