Patrick Kane scored the dramatic game-winning goal in overtime, but Corey Crawford was the story as the Chicago Blackhawks escaped a tough series against a much-improved Minnesota Wild team.
The Wild once again were all over the Blackhawks, out-shooting Chicago 35-27 and carrying the action in the second and third periods. But Crawford was up to the task, allowing only one goal on the night and making a number of fantastic saves to keep his teammates in the game until Kane could come through in the clutch.
Peter Regin was in the lineup again and played a very strong game. He was battling in front of the net when Kris Versteeg banked a puck past Ilya Bryzgalov only 1:58 into the first period, and drove Ryan Suter past the bouncing puck to give Kane an open look at the net on the game-winner. Regin also deflected a puck out of traffic in front of an open net late in the game to keep the score tied. Regin skated only 12:24 and won only four of 13 faceoffs, but he was strong all over the ice in the victory.
Brent Seabrook led the team with five blocked shots, and he and partner Duncan Keith were both over 29 minutes int he game. Seabrook also led the team with three hits and was credited with an assist on the game-winner; he now has 11 points in 9 playoff games.
Jonathan Toews led Chicago forwards with 24:05 in the game, and was credited with one blocked shot while winning 14 of 31 faceoffs.
Once again, the Blackhawks penalty kill was stellar. They killed all three of Minnesota’s power plays, and were once again led by Marcus Kruger (3:40 short-handed) and Michal Handzus (3:39).
The low ice time man on Tuesday night was Joakim Nordstrom, who skated only 6:57 and 12 shifts.
While a number of players had nice – not great – box scores, the man of the hour was Crawford. Minnesota out-shot the Hawks 14-8 in a strong second period, but Crawford allowed only the one goal to Erik Haula.
For Minnesota, Justin Fontaine led the way with six shots on net. Ryan Suter played over 32 minutes in the loss. Zach Parise (one goal, three assists, minus-three) and Suter (zero goals, three assists, minus-four) weren’t able to carry the load in the series, but the improved depth for the Wild made this series a significantly tougher test than the first round battle between these two teams a year ago.
The Hawks will now wait for the winner of the Kings and Ducks in the conference final. Anaheim will take a 3-2 series lead into Los Angeles on Wednesday night.
In the Eastern Conference, the champion will be an Original Six franchise. The New York Rangers knocked off the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night, and will face the winner of Montreal and Boston for a chance to play for the Stanley Cup.