Patrick Kane put it into overdrive in the third period of Game 1 to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. Kane’s highlight reel backhand goal a minute and a half after Minnesota had tied it at 2 proved to be the winner as the experienced Hawks shut down the Wild after that.
Marian Hossa doubled the lead in the second, finishing off a nice passing play. Brandon Saad started it by dishing to the point where Brent Seabrook went cross-point to Nick Leddy. Leddy made a nice pass to Saad cruising in the slot, and his backhand pass went right to Hossa on the back door for the easy re-direct and a 2 goal lead through 2. This despite the Wild out-shooting the Blackhawks 17-3 in the period.
A wild third period (pun intended) began with Minnesota getting on the board two and a half minutes in. Clayton Stoner‘s shot trickled through Corey Crawford, but was pulled off the line by Johnny Oduya. However, it somehow got knocked back in during the ensuing scramble and the Wild were within one. Kyle Brodziak evened the score after Dany Heatley‘s forecheck created a turnover along the boards in the Chicago Blackhawks end. Erick Haula picked the puck up and carried it down low. His cross-crease pass to Brodziak somehow got through Crawford and Seabrook and it was an easy tap home.
Kane responded with a great individual effort, taking a pass from Patrick Sharp and carrying it in 1 on 2. He faked a drop pass, shielded the puck from the defenseman and lifted a backhander over Byrzgalov’s shoulder to put the Hawks back in front. Kane scored again with just over 3 minutes left to restore the 2 goal cushion. Somehow one of the game’s best goal scorers was left all alone beside the net and a great tip-pass by Ben Smith found Kane wide open for the 6 foot tap-in.
With Bryzgalov on the bench for the extra attacker, Bickell’s shot from center ice found the net for the insurance marker as the Chicago Blackhawks took game 1 by a score of 5-2.
Jonas Brodin‘s careless stick will carry a lot of blame for this loss, as his double minor in the first period resulted in the first goal, and another high sticking penalty in the second led to Hossa’s goal. They weren’t necessary penalties and that lack of discipline is going to cost them against an opportunistic team like Chicago.
Game 2 goes Sunday afternoon in Chicago.