WARR’s hockey writer Sidney Brown offers his takes on the Blackhawks throughout their postseason run as well as predictions on the rest of the NHL
Working well off its momentum from its Game 1 win, the Chicago Blackhawks displayed dominance once again and earned a 4-1 victory in Game 2 Sunday afternoon, taking a 2-0 series lead over the Minnesota Wild.
The Hawks got to work right from the opening face-off as the captain, Jonathan Toews, scored his fourth goal of the playoffs off a wrist shot to give the home team a 1-0 lead.
Out-shooting the Wild 7-2 in their fast start, the Hawks offered more of the same in the second, as second-year phenom Brandon Saad netted home his first goal of the playoffs off a sweet pass from Bryan Bickell to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead after two periods.
Just as in Game 1, the Wild generated momentum later in the game with their fore checking and in the process out shot the Hawks 13-8 in the second period. The Wild’s fresh legs carried over into the start of the third period as Cody McCormick scored his first goal of the playoffs off a one-timer pass from Clayton Stoner, cutting the Hawks lead in half at 2-1. But as they have throughout these playoffs, the Hawks held serve and closed things out.
With that, the home team received goals from Bickell and Saad’s second of the game on and empty net, while keeping the Wild off the scoreboard in the final 20 minutes. The Hawks finished the game leading the shots on goal category by a three shot margin (22-19). Hawks goalie Corey Crawford wasn’t tested much until the third and during that period he managed to make the save of the game, wiping away a golden chance from Wild sniper Zach Parise by snatching the puck out of mid-air from the top of the crossbar.
Crawford finished the contest with 18 saves to boost a .947 save percentage. Ilya Brzygalov had another rough day at the office for the Wild, giving up three goals off 21 shots for a save percentage of .857. Chicago’s Andrew Shaw was out the lineup with an upper body injury suffered in Game 1 and was replaced by Kris Versteeg and Jeremy Morin.
CHI — Niklas Hjalmarsson boosted the Hawks with two assists prior to leaving the game in the second period after getting hit in the face by a puck.
CHI — Marian Hossa scored three assists.
CHI — The penalty kill unit blanked the Wild on their man advantage (1-1).
CHI — The Hawks dominated the blocked shots category (25-11).
MIN — Cody McCormick lead his team in hits (6).
CHI — Went 0-for-2 on the power play.
MIN — Went 0-for-1 on the power play.
MIN — Top scorers Parise, Heatley, Pominvelle and Moulson combined for 0 points.
Looking At Game 3
The Hawks plan going forward is only to do what you are supposed to do and did do in the first two games — keep control of home ice. It’s going to be tough going at the Xcel Center in St. Paul, but they only need to grab one game.
For the Wild, who’ve played well defensively, the name of the game is scoring goals. Just sitting back waiting for the Hawks to make a mistake is not a smart strategy. Someone off the Wild roster must step up and take charge by generating enough offense to compete with the Hawks. The home ice advantage should give Minnesota the energy boost that they need to compete better. Minnesota is 3-0 at home in the playoffs, but they’re facing a well-tested team.
The Hawks have a 1-2 road record in the playoffs, but they need to take care of business and not give the Wild any hope of winning this series. When hitting on all cylinders, the Hawks are nearly unbeatable. Heading into Game 3 we should look for whether or not the Hawks put a strangle hold on this series? Who, if anyone, will step up offensively for the Wild? And will the Wild play a consistently solid 60 minute game?
The Road Ahead (Series Schedule)
Game 3: Tuesday, 8 PM CT (CNBC)
Game 4: May 9th, TBA
Game 5: May 11th, TBA *
Game 6: May 13th, TBA *
Game 7: May 15th, TBA *
*= If Necessary
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