The line of Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell led the Chicago Blackhawks to another strong playoff victory on Sunday afternoon at the United Center.
Hossa (three assists) and Bickell (one goal, two assists) had three points each, and Brandon Saad (two goals) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (two assists) helped lead the Blackhawks to a 4-1 victory and 2-0 lead in their series against the Minnesota Wild.
Toews opened the scoring in the first period when Hossa had a breakaway stopped by Wild netminder Ilya Bryzgalov. The puck popped up in the air and Toews, trailing the play, tipped in the rebound for his fourth of the postseason. It was Toews’ first non-game-winning goal of the postseason.
Saad, who had played well over the last few weeks but hadn’t found the back of the net, scored the game-winning goal in the final minute of the second period and caught up to a Hossa outlet in time to score an empty net goal late in the third period to put the game away. He was also credited with two blocked shots and two hits in the game.
Cody McCormick, who got away with punching Jeremy Morin in the kidneys right in front of a referee earlier in the game, got Minnesota on the board exactly two minutes into the third period but that’s all Corey Crawford would allow on Sunday.
Crawford played another strong game, allowing only one goal against 19 shots. The defensive effort in front of Crawford was significantly improved from Friday night as well; the Hawks allowed 17 shots in the second period alone in Game One.
Bickell scored his fifth of the postseason at 17:15, and Saad scored his second of the afternoon with Bryzgalov on the bench moments later.
Brent Seabrook led the Hawks with six blocked shots and finished tied with Patrick Sharp for the team lead with three hits. Brandon Bollig had led the team in hits for much of the postseason, but was a healthy scratch on Sunday.
Morin and Joakim Nordstrom both dressed on Sunday, and Kris Versteeg returned from illness as well. Three Blackhawks skated less than 10 minutes on Sunday, with Morin’s nine shifts and 5:42 being the low mark on the roster. Versteeg skated only 8:56, and Michal Handzus saw only 9:27 on the ice.
Nordstrom skated 14:30 but was knocked off the puck easily on too many occasions.
Niklas Hjalmarsson was hit high with a puck and went down hard, but came back into the game and still skated 20:16 in the game. Duncan Keith led the way once again with 25:43 on the ice.
One reason Handzus’ ice time was limited is because the Hawks stayed out of the penalty box for most of the game on Sunday. Chicago only killed one minor penalty – a high-sticking call on Nick Leddy in the second – to continue their short-handed dominance in the postseason. Unfortunately, the Hawks’ power play was unable to convert on their two advantages.
Andrew Shaw did not play after leaving Game One with a lower-body injury, but indications before the game were that he will travel with the team to Minnesota with hopes of being back for Game Three.
For Minnesota, Mikko Koivu bounced back from a rough night at the dot and won 14 of 19 faceoffs in the game; he was minus-two in the game. Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon were each minus-three in the loss on Sunday. Bryzgalov allowed three goals against 21 shots.