The Chicago Blackhawks made it tough, but found a way to take game one.
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Blackhawks scored three quick goals in the first period to take what seemed like an insurmountable lead.
It looked like the Wild would bow out of the playoffs to the Blackhawks, just as they have done in the previous two playoffs. It prompted Wild coach Mike Yeo to say, “Bottom line is until we … prove that something’s different, then nothing’s changed.”
Then came the second period. Three goals by Minnesota’s Jason Zucker, Zach Parise, and Mikael Granlund, and game one was surprisingly tied. Something had indeed changed. Then, with less than a minute remaining in the surprising second period, the Blackhawks’ Teuvo Teravainen scored his very first playoff goal on a fluttering 56-foot shot that the Wild’s Devyn Dubnyk couldn’t handle.
“I didn’t pick it up till it was about 5 to 6 feet in front of me,” Dubnyk said. “I kind of waved at it and missed it. I didn’t see it come off the guy’s stick.
“I didn’t pick it up at all. That’s my job, to get out and find a way to find the puck at all times. I didn’t do that there and it cost me. It’s certainly a disappointing one to give up when you work as hard as we did to come back.”
New series, same result. Minnesota lost 4-3, its seventh straight road loss to the Blackhawks in the playoffs.
USA Today is reporting that, in the playoffs, the Blackhawks are 27-0 when leading after two periods. When asked, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville politely knocked twice on the wooden podium he was standing behind.
Part of the Blackhawks’ success revolves around sharpness and consistency, and those will need to improve if the Blackhawks want to win their third Stanley Cup in the modern era.
The Blackhawks eliminated the Nashville Predators and now stand 1-0 against the Wild, despite giving up 3.43 goals per game average. Only the Winnipeg Jets, who were ousted in the previous round, had a higher average.
The Blackhawks are allowing 38 shots per game during the playoffs, up from 30 shots per game during the regular season. The Blackhawks’ penalty killing is also suspect, being the second-worst in the league. That improved in the first game, with the Wild being held scoreless on two penalties in the third period last night. The Wild had a 33.3 percent success rate in penalty shots up until that point. The Blackhawks have also given up three goals in a period five times in this postseason alone.
“We need to tighten up a little,” Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya said. “You don’t want guys hanging out by themselves in the slot and getting opportunities. That’s something you want to keep away from. You don’t want to put stress on your goalies to come up with big saves.”
[Image courtesy of WGN]