There is always talk of the perfect road game. You go out, silence the crowd, dominate puck possession and shut down opposition chances. If there was a textbook produced on the topic, the Chicago Blackhawks would feature throughout. This game, despite some flaws, was a showcase of how to play a road game, especially a road game in the playoffs.
This game started and it was all presence by the Blackhawks. Despite a low amount of shots being fired on either goalie, the ice was titled strongly in Chicago’s favor to start this game. 8 Minutes into the game, a Michal Handzus shot on net is deflected off Patrick Sharp and passed Josh Harding, and this game is 1-0 for Chicago. Despite some penalties on their side, that is how this period went. Limited chances, and low scoring, the type of game any road team would love to play, if they have the lead. Late in the period, a Jonathan Toews rush would end awkwardly on Harding. Harding stayed in net for the period, but was replaced by Darcy Kuemper to start period 2.
Period 2 looks like it is primed to start off with a bang as just over a minute into the period Patrick Sharp strikes again. Firing a shot from the wing, Sharp buries it passed a still cold Kuemper and this game is 2-0 SharpCago. All credit to Kuemper, that was the first shot fired against him, and while it went it, he picked himself up, dusted himself off and played solidly throughout the period.
Enter the third period. Despite a few chances on the power play, the Wild were just unable to bury anything passed Corey Crawford. Much like Ottawa, the Minnesota power play has struggled mightily this post season, and for Minny it is costing them. In unfortunate news, Niklas Backstrom made his way to the bench to backup Kuemper, which signifies some form injury to Harding. With 7 minutes remaining, Bryan Bickell snipes one over the shoulder of Kuemper and much like this series is getting, this game is out of hand. The Hawks take the shutout 3-0 and the series lead 3-1.
SENSHOT 3 STARS
1 – Corey Crawford
2 – Patrick Sharp
3 – Darcy Kuemper