Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Patrick Kane kicked his quest for a second
straight Conn Smythe Trophy into high gear on Friday.
Kane scored the first two of Chicago's three unanswered goals in the third
period, as the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks downed the Minnesota
Wild, 5-2, in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series at United
Chicago carried a 2-0 lead into the third, but Clayton Stoner and Kyle
Brodziak scored under five minutes apart early in the frame to even the score.
Kane took over from there, netting the game-winner with a wicked backhander at
8:22 before potting his fifth of the playoffs later in the frame to give the
Blackhawks a two-goal cushion.
"It was one of those plays where I was about to drop it to (Patrick Sharp) but
I saw both defensemen kind of go to him," Kane said of his tiebreaking goal.
"I just tried to get in on the backhand and made a good shot."
Bryan Bickell, who opened the scoring with a power-play goal in the first,
added an empty-netter to help Chicago draw first blood in this best-of-seven
Corey Crawford registered 30 saves for the Blackhawks, who bounced the Wild
from the playoffs in the first round of the playoffs last year.
Ilya Bryzgalov got the start in net for the Wild in place of an injured Darcy
Kuemper, who was forced to exit Minnesota's Game 7 victory over Colorado after
sustaining an undisclosed injury late in the contest. Bryzgalov stopped the
only shot he faced in relief against the Avalanche, but turned aside just 17-
of-21 shots in Friday's setback.
"There wasn't enough urgency in the details and the little things that add up
to make the difference at this time of year," Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo
said. "We slipped a little bit from last game. We didn't bring the same level
and so we'll rectify that."
Game 2 of this series is slated for Sunday in Chicago.
Brodziak's tap-in from in front off a slick pass from Erik Haula tied the game
at 2-2 just under seven minutes into the third, but the Blackhawks responded
with three answered goals, starting with Kane's backhander.
The Chicago winger carried the disc down the left side and into the Minnesota
zone before cutting through the high slot, where he faked a drop pass. Given
room to work, Kane held off his defender and worked into the low right circle
before lifting a filthy backhand over the short-side shoulder of Bryzgalov.
Kane doubled Chicago's lead at 16:47 when Sharp's shot from the right point
deflected off Ben Smith's stick in the circle and ricocheted to the low left
side, where Kane was waiting to send the puck home for a 4-2 lead.
Bickell buried an empty-netter 32 seconds later to account for the final
Early on, Minnesota's Jonas Brodin was sent off for a high-sticking double-
minor at 13:09 of the opening frame and the Blackhawks cashed in less than two
minutes into the man advantage.
While working in the Minnesota zone, Brent Seabrook fired a heavy slapper from
the high point that tipped off Bickell's stick in front and slipped through
Bryzgalov for a 1-0 lead with 5:12 left in the first.
Minnesota nearly found the equalizer late in the first after a scrum in front
of the Chicago cage saw the disc squirt across the goal line. The referees
ruled it no goal immediately, citing that the puck was covered and the whistle
had blown. Video review confirmed the call on the ice and the Wild went into
the first intermission trailing by a goal.
Brodin was sent off for high-sticking again 10:09 into the second stanza, and
the Blackhawks capitalized on the power play once again.
Just after Crawford denied Zach Parise on a short-handed breakaway, Chicago
worked the disc around the point in the Minnesota zone before Brandon Saad
received a pass in the slot and stickhandled past a defender.
From the low right circle, Saad backhanded a pass to the low left side for
Marian Hossa, who one-timed the disc past Bryzgalov for a 2-0 lead at 11:21.
The Wild sliced the margin in half 2:19 into the third after Stoner threw a
shot on net from atop the left circle. The shot snuck through Crawford and
trickled toward the goal line, but defenseman Johnny Oduya was able to keep
the puck from going in. However, Oduya swept the puck into his own skate,
causing the disc to trickle across the goal line to bring the Wild within 2-1.
Brodziak's third of the playoffs pulled Minnesota even at 6:56.
Hossa also had two assists, while Seabrook and Sharp supplied two helpers
apiece in the win ... Chicago's Andrew Shaw left the game in the first period
and did not return after absorbing a hit from Stoner ... Minnesota made its
first appearance in the second round of the playoffs since its first
postseason appearance in 2003, which ended with a loss to Anaheim in the
conference finals ... The Wild fell to 1-7 all-time in the first contest of a
series and haven't won a Game 1 since their first-ever playoff game, a 4-2 win
against Colorado on April 10, 2003.