Deficit deepens as Kane, Crawford lead Blackhawks past Wild
ST. PAUL - If it's May, Chicago Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane must be doing something to hurt the Minnesota Wild. On Tuesday, Kane's first-period power-play goal was the difference in Chicago's 1-0 win over the Wild, giving the Blackhawks ...
ST. PAUL – If it’s May, Chicago Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane must be doing something to hurt the Minnesota Wild.
On Tuesday, Kane’s first-period power-play goal was the difference in Chicago’s 1-0 win over the Wild, giving the Blackhawks a 3-0 stranglehold on their Western Conference semifinal playoff series.
Goalie Corey Crawford added a 30-save shutout for Chicago, which quieted the raucous Minnesota crowd in the first period, then frustrated the home team throughout. The Blackhawks, who ended Minnesota’s season in the playoffs the past two years, can sweep the series and send the Wild to the offseason again with a win on Thursday.
The Wild got 21 saves from goalie Devan Dubnyk, but were an offensive no-show once again.
Minnesota has managed just two even-strength goals in the series so far.
“I thought in the second period we had a lot of looks, a lot of good looks, and did a lot of good things,” Wild right winger Jason Pominville said.
Emblematic of what’s plaguing the Wild, Pominville had 18 goals in the regular season and two in the first round versus St. Louis, but has none versus Chicago.
“We just weren’t able to find a way,” Pominville said. “That’s the difference in the game.”
It was a familiar role for Kane, who has been Minnesota’s playoff nemesis in recent years.
It was his overtime goal in Game 6 last season that ended the Wild’s playoff run. In 14 career playoff games versus the Wild, Kane has seven goals and six assists.
“He has a hot stick, he’s dangerous,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think he gives a lot of different looks for the goalies. They don’t know where it’s coming off his stick, and it has some torque on it as well. He’s skating well and he can back off the ‘D’, shoot through screens and if he gets alone on the goalies, you don’t know where it’s coming off.”
Momentum swung like a pendulum in the opening period, with the Wild getting the game’s first four shots on goal, but they needed Dubnyk to come up with a few highlight-reel saves as the Blackhawks offense heated up.
The Blackhawks cashed in on their first power play, as Kane netted his sixth goal of the playoffs, taking a pass from center Andrew Shaw before beating Dubnyk with a low shot from the left circle.
Both goalies were busy, with Dubnyk turning aside repeated rushes from Chicago’s speedy forwards, while Crawford continued to frustrate the Wild, which included turning aside a breakaway by center Mikael Granlund near the midway point of the game.
“They were in our zone, but we were able to get a lot of pucks out and relieve pressure,” said Crawford, after his fourth career playoff shutout. “They were flying, they had a lot of energy boost from their fans. We stuck with our game, we played hard. We had some chances, too.
Crawford, who was average, at best, and split time with backup Scott Darling in the Blackhawks’ round one win over the Nashville Predators, has been rock-solid versus the Wild.
“Crawford, he’s a star against us,” Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. “He’s (Martin) Brodeur, he’s (Patrick) Roy, he’s everyone against us. So we’ve got to find a way to solve that.”
It marks the third time in Wild history that they have fallen behind 3-0 in a playoff series. They were swept by Anaheim in the 2003 Western Conference finals, and fell 4-1 to the Ducks in the 2007 first round.
Chicago last had a 3-0 lead in the 2010 Western Conference finals. The Blackhawks swept the San Joes Sharks en route to winning the Stanley Cup.
“Win the fourth game,” said Wild left winger Zach Parise, of the team’s remaining game plan. “That’s about it.”