NHL Playoffs: Blackhawks Beat Wild 2-1 In OT [Video]
The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in overtime on Tuesday night as the NHL playoffs are now underway. Bryan Bickell scored the game-winning goal as the Blackhawks escaped Game 1 with a win after falling behind early.
Cal Clutterbuck opened up the scoring against the Blackhawks just under five minutes into the first period. Clutterbuck threw a shot on net from the side boards and beat Corey Crawford near the post to give the Wild a 1-0 lead.
Crawford rarely gives up a soft goal, but he wasn’t positioned correctly as Clutterbuck entered the zone and it cost him. The Wild would go on to hold their one-goal lead until early in the second period.
Marian Hossa tied the game at one for the Blackhawks with a wrist shot past Josh Harding just over two minutes into the second. Patrick Kane drove the puck into the zone and hit Hossa with a backhand pass for the assist.
Neither team scored in the third, setting up for an overtime thriller as both team’s goaltenders had been stellar between the pipes through regulation. Hossa had a chance to end it early in overtime but missed with a backhand in front of the net as Josh Harding sprawled out and made the save.
Harding finished with 35 saves on the night, but it wasn’t enough as the Blackhawks took advantage of a two-on-one break late in the overtime. Bryan Bickell found himself all alone in front of Harding during a break and capitalized with a backhander of his own.
Defenseman Johnny Oduya made the play possible by chipping the puck up the boards to Viktor Stalberg near the Wild’s blue-line Stalberg scooped up the puck and hit Bickell with a quick pass before the 27-year-old changed direction and beat Harding.
The Blackhawks stole Game 1 from the Wild and hope to take a two-game lead on Friday at the United Center. Chicago finished the regular season as the NHL’s best team and Presidents’ Trophy winners, making anything less than a Stanley Cup unacceptable.
Here are the highlights of the overtime thriller in Chicago if you missed it:
The Minnesota Wild were without their starting netminder Niklas Backstrom on Tuesday as he suffered a leg injury during pregame warm-ups. Josh Harding was great in net as Backstrom’s replacement after only appearing in five games during the regular season.
Harding’s small work load this season was due to being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last summer but he hasn’t let it affect him going forward into the playoffs.
Backstrom’s status for Friday night’s contest has yet to be announced but it doesn’t look like head coach Mike Yeo has any problem sticking with Harding.
“Phenomenal,” Yeo said about his backup’s performance in Game 1. ”It’s hard to sit here and try to paint an accurate picture of what he’s gone through, because I have no idea, we have no idea. He’s a guy that, certainly, for many reasons you’re rooting for.”
The Wild will look to erase Tuesday’s defeat with a win of their own of Friday to return home with a split. The Blackhawks have other plans as they hope to make it out of the first round for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009-10.
Can the Minnesota Wild even the series on Friday or will the Chicago Blackhawks begin pulling away in the first round of the NHL playoffs?