Game One: one team steamrolls their way to a three-goal lead in the first period, only to give it all back in the second as neither goaltender appears terribly comfortable.
The script felt familiar, but not in a good way.
In the first round against Nashville, it was the Predators rolling to the early lead with the Blackhawks coming back to tie the game in the second. On Friday night against Minnesota, the Hawks stormed to the early advantage only to watch the Wild climb all the way back during the middle stanza.
Unlike the Predators in the last series, however, the Blackhawks were able to grab the lead – and the momentum – back at the end of the second period.
The opening 20 minutes was a showcase for the Blackhawks. Brandon Saad scored the first goal of the series only 75 seconds in the game. Each team had a few good scoring opportunities over the next 11 minutes, but neither team was able to capitalize until Brad Richards danced into the zone and found Patrick Kane for a wicked shot that beat Devan Dubnyk.
When Marcus Kruger scored 2:04 later, the United Center exploded for a third time. In spite of being out-shot in the first period, the Hawks carried a three goal lead into the dressing rooms.
Early in the second period, Johnny Oduya put a shot off the crossbar that nearly blew the roof off the building once more. But the shot didn’t go in, and Minnesota carried the rest of the period. Goals by Jason Zucker, Zach Parise (on the power play) and Mikael Granlund in the first half of the period sucked the wind out of the arena. Deja vu had struck the Hawks.
Though he would have undoubtedly liked at least one of the goals back, Corey Crawford made enough saves in the second period to keep the game tied.
Until Teuvo Teravainen scored his first career postseason goal, breaking the tie and stealing momentum from the visitors as the teams went to their respective dressing rooms for a second time.
The third period saw both teams have exceptional chances, but both goaltenders stood tall. After a tremendous effort from the Wild in the game’s closing minute to tie the game, Crawford was up to the task and the Blackhawks successfully held on to win Game One.
And Teravainen’s goal held up as the game-winner.
Antoine Vermette picked up an assist and won 11 of 14 faceoffs with four hits in the victory. He skated on the third line with Patrick Sharp and Teravainen as Kris Versteeg was a scratch (lower body).
Bryan Bickell won the lineup lottery and was bumped up to skate with Richards and Kane and provided a physical influence on the game. He was credited with 11 hits in 14:05.
Richards, Kane and Marian Hossa led the Hawks with four shots on net each, while Oduya was credited with a team-high three blocked shots. Duncan Keith was credited with two assists and once again skated a team-leading ice time total… but was “only” on the ice for 24:43 in the victory.
Ryan Suter, the ice time leader for the Wild, skated 26:36 and got undressed by Saad on the game’s first score.
Crawford stopped 30 of 33 Minnesota shots to earn the victory, and was especially strong in the third period after a rough second. Dubnyk made 31 saves against 35 shots in defeat.
Special teams continue to be a struggle for the Blackhawks, who allowed a power play goal once again; Chicago was short-handed three times on Friday night. Minnesota only sent one player to the box, Parise in the first period, and the Hawks failed to capitalize.