The Chicago Blackhawks will try to take a commanding three games to none lead tonight in Minnesota.
ESPN is reporting that the Blackhawks owned game two, winning by a 4-1 score. This the first time the Minnesota Wild have lost two games in a row since acquiring Devan Dubnyk this past January. The Blackhawks and Wild are no strangers to facing each other in the playoffs. In fact, the same pattern is emerging: The Blackhawks win the first two games, then go on to win the series. The Blackhawks and Wild have met in the playoffs twice before.
The Wild will be looking to change things up a bit. The Wild have not scored first in either of the first two games, nor have they had a lead in either game. The difference is obvious when you see both teams records when leading after two rounds. The Blackhawks are 25-0 when leading after two periods, including 3-0 in this year’s playoffs. The Wild are 32-2-2 when leading after two periods.
The Wild will be at a disadvantage, though. Forward Chris Stewart will miss tonight’s game because of an upper-body injury he sustained in Game 2, crashing into an end wall. Stewart is listed as day-to-day. The Wild will start Jordan Schroeder for just his second playoff start.
According to WGN, the Blackhawks are 6-0 when scoring at least three goals in a game. The Blackhawks have scored four goals in each of the past three games. Minnesota has won Game 3 in each of the past two playoff series against the Blackhawks.
The Wild like to make things difficult on themselves. This is the sixth series that the Wild have gone down two games to none in the playoffs. Of the previous five instances, the Wild have come back to win only one series, and that was last year’s opening round playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche, winning in seven games.
The Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane scored two goals in Game 2, the third game in a row he has scored at least one goal. He did once score goals in four straight playoff games, from April 24 to May 3, 2010.
One area that the Blackhawks need to improve immediately is power-play killing. The Blackhawks have allowed a power-play goal in each of their last five playoff games. The Blackhawks’ penalty-killing percentage is at 70.4 percent, dead last among the remaining playoff teams. The only other playoff team with the next-worse penalty-killing percentage are the St. Louis Blues, at 66.7 percent.
The Blackhawks and Wild have split their two regular-season games at Minnesota’s Xcel Energy Center.
[Image courtesy of Sports Pickle]