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
Home ice advantage helped the young Minnesota Wild squad crawl back into its series with the Chicago Blackhawks with a 4-0 victory Tuesday night, built off a surprising and drastic third period momentum swing.
Ironically, the Hawks came out on fire, shutting down the Wild attack to the tune of only two shots on goal in the first five minutes of the game.
The Hawks had two power play opportunities of their own in the first period, but nothing came about. The Hawks had a two-shot advantage (7-5) at the end of the opening period.
The second period saw your typical classic playoff effort with strong fore checking, tight defense and great saves. Both teams stayed out of the penalty box and the Hawks maintained their slight shot advantage but still no goals entered the net. Energy picked up tremendously as the third period began and the only advantage left, home ice, came into play.
Minnesota’s Erik Haula scored his second goal of the playoffs off a tip-in past Hawks goalie Corey Crawford, giving the Wild a 1-0 lead at 1 minute, 41 seconds into the period. The onslaught continued with Mikael Granlund scoring his third goal of the playoffs off a backhand shot just minutes later (4:18) boosting the lead to 2-0. Chicago didn’t know what hit it and the rout was on.
As the final moments unfolded, Zach Parise netted home his fourth goal of the playoffs on the power play at 17:25 off a wrist shot and Granlund concluded matters by scoring his second goal of the game on an empty net, giving the game its final score.
Wild goalie Ilya Brzygalov stepped up to the plate and responded after struggles in Games 1 and 2, he recorded his fourth career playoff shutout, featuring 19 saves. The Hawks ‘ Crawford just had a bad day at the office, stopping only 14 of 17 shots while posting a save percentage of .824.
Give the Wild credit for hanging in with the Hawks throughout the game and setting the tone offensively in the third period. Standing out in particular was Minnesota winning the face off category (31-27) for the first time in the series. The Hawks could have used injured forward Andrew Shaw, who did not play but is expected to be back in the lineup for Game 4 on Friday.
Shaw’s presence is badly needed especially, especially on offense where he creates traffic in front of the net, like Bryan Bickell, and helps shut down the opponent’s top line. The Hawks had a one shot-on-goal advantage (19-18) over the Wild but nothing to show for it on the scoreboard, they must be more aggressive to the net in Game 4.
CHI — Niklas Hjalmarsson lead the team in blocked shots (4).
CHI — Held a 16-14 advantage in blocked shots.
MIN — Ryan Suter, Matt Moulson and Jason Pominville combined for of 4 assists.
MIN — Cody McCormick lead the team in hits (4).
MIN — Went 1-for-2 on the power play.
MIN — A big lead in the hits category (22-8).
CHI — Went 0-for-2 on the power play.
CHI — Patrick Sharp scored 0 points.
CHI — Record now is 4-11 in Game 3s under coach Joel Quenneville.
Looking At Game 4
Just as in last year’s playoffs, the Hawks dropped the first road game in its series against the Wild and Minnesota now has a regained confidence in the middle of a series just like they did against their last opponent, the Colorado Avalanche, but I think that things will be different here. In last year’s Game 4 against the Wild, the Hawks kept control of the series with a 3-0 win.
I expect the Hawks to come out with a better effort with an extra day off in between games (Game 4 is Friday). The goal if for the Hawks is to get one game on the road, ff the Wild should win Game 4, this series could get dangerous in a hurry and that’s something that the Hawks can’t afford. The Hawks have a better roster and should reinstate their dominance as they did in the first two games of this series, not giving the Wild any bit of hope to upset you.
Questions heading into Game 4 include: Can the Hawks shake off their disastrous third period in Game 3? Will their power play get back on track? Will Andrew Shaw return to the lineup to give the Hawks a boost?
As for the Wild, the focus will be on can they continue their offensive surge? Could Brzygalov be starting a run of stand-on-his-head goaltending? And, is Zach Parise finally starting to heat up?
The Road Ahead (Series Schedule)
Game 4: May 9th, 8:30 PM (NBCSN)
Game 5: May 11th, TBA
Game 6: May 13th, TBA *
Game 7: May 15th, TBA *
*= If Necessary
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