The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 5-1 at the United Center on Thursday evening to advance to the second round of the NHL playoffs.
Marion Hossa led the way for the Blackhawks with two goals as they advanced to the Western Conference semi-finals for the first time since 2010.
Marcus Kruger, Andrew Shaw and Patrick Sharp also scored for Chicago who made short work of the Wild, winning the series in five games.
Hossa praised his team’s effort and admitted it was a relief to get past the first round after failing to do so in the last couple of seasons.
“We knew we hadn’t done it in two years,” he said. “Minnesota, they still have a great team and are missing some players. We found a way. Now we get ready for the second round.”
Hossa opened the scoring at 15:39 of the first period after some good work by captain Jonathan Toews before the Blackhawks doubled their advantage early in the second stanza through Kruger.
Hossa then scored his second goal of the game to give the hosts a commanding 3-0 lead. The Wild tried to make a game of it when Torrey Mitchell beat goalie Corey Crawford just past the midway point of the period.
However, Crawford shut the door for the remainder of the game and Shaw and Sharp put the cherry on top of what was a sweet win indeed for the Presidents Trophy winners.
However, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville urged his players to improve their game in the next round.
“I still think that we need to get a different type of pace to our game that’s catching up to the other series that are being played and what the playoffs are all about,” he said.
“It’s not the regular season. There’s another type of appetite we need to get as well.”
The Chicago Blackhawks thumped the Minnesota Wild and will face either the San Jose Sharks or the Detroit Red Wings in the next round.