Updated: 05/03/2014 5:32 PM
Created: 05/02/2014 8:26 PM KSTP.com
By: KSTP Sports
Patrick Kane scored two goals for Chicago in the third period, including a terrific dash through the Minnesota zone for the tiebreaking score, and the Blackhawks beat the Wild 5-2 in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Friday night.
Bryan Bickell also scored twice to help the Blackhawks win their fifth in a row after losing the first two games against St. Louis in the first round. Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist as the defending Stanley Cup champions made the most of two costly high-sticking penalties on Minnesota defenseman Jonas Brodin.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Sunday.
The Wild showed no sign of any fatigue just two days after their dramatic 5-4 overtime win in Game 7 of their first-round series against Colorado. Playing in the second round of the postseason for the first time since 2003, Minnesota used third-period goals from Clayton Stoner and Kyle Brodziak to tie it at 2.
Brodziak's third goal of playoffs on a slick pass from Erik Haula silenced the sellout crowd of 21,116 with 13:04 left, but Kane then electrified the United Center once again with his 33rd playoff goal.
The flashy wing carried the puck into the Minnesota zone, hesitated as teammate Patrick Sharp skated behind him, and then split Brodziak and Brodin on his way to the net. He finished the play by roofing a backhand over goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov's left shoulder at 8:22.
Kane then yelled "Showtime!" twice and pumped his right arm as the delirious crowd cheered wildly. But he was only getting started.
The 2013 Conn Smythe Trophy winner picked up his fifth goal of the playoffs on a nice pass from Ben Smith, and Bickell added an empty-netter as Chicago pulled away.
Minnesota went 0 for 3 on the power play in a disturbing sign after it struggled with the man advantage in its first-round playoff series against Chicago a year ago. The Wild were unsuccessful on all 17 power-play chances when they were eliminated by the Blackhawks in five games in 2013.
Bryzgalov had 17 saves in his first start since he was pulled from Minnesota's 4-2 loss to the Avalanche in Game 2. Darcy Kuemper took over for the Wild in net until he got hurt in the third period of the final game, and Bryzgalov made one save to help the Wild advance.
Kuemper is day to day with an upper-body injury, but Wild coach Mike Yeo said before Game 1 against the Blackhawks that the goalie was not in Chicago, making it unlikely that he'll be able to play Sunday.
Bryzgalov got off to a slow start, and Chicago used the penalties on Brodin to build a 2-0 lead. Bickell tipped in Brent Seabrook's slap shot at 14:48 of the first, and then had some fancy footwork on the Blackhawks' second goal in the second period.
Nick Leddy made a nice pass to Brandon Saad streaking through the middle of the Minnesota zone. Saad then sent a backhand pass toward the left side of the net that Bickell stepped over, leaving it for Hossa to flip into the open side of the goal at 11:21.
The rest of the period belonged to Minnesota, which outshot Chicago 17-3 in the second. Mikael Granlund had a shot go high off the left post, and Corey Crawford made nice glove saves on Wild captain Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise.
Crawford finished with 30 saves after he made 35 stops in Chicago's 5-1 victory over St. Louis in Game 6 on Sunday, closing out the series for the Blackhawks.
NOTES: The Blackhawks lost C Andrew Shaw to a lower-body injury in the first period. ... Blackhawks F Kris Versteeg was scratched for the second straight playoff game in favor of Joakim Nordstrom. It was Nordstrom's second career playoff game.
(Copyright: Associated Press)
PERIOD BY PERIOD SUMMARIES:
END THIRD PERIOD: Minnesota 2, Chicago 5
Scoring: MIN - Stoner (1); MIN - Brodziak (3); CHI - Kane (4); CHI - Kane (5); CHI - Bickell (4 EN)
Shots: MIN - 6 (31 total); CHI - 6 (22)
Power Play: MIN - 0/0 (0/3); CHI - 0/0 (2/4)
The Wild opened the third successfully killing off the remaining minute-plus of the penalty that extended out of the second period.
Two minutes into the third, after a loose puck nearly trickled over the Chicago goal line, a frantic play by Johnny Oduya to try to clear it left him tied up with Jason Pominville. In the tussle, Oduya kicked the puck, causing it to just barely slide over the goal line. Credit the goal to Clayton Stoner, whose initial shot triggered the flurry, cutting the Blackhaws lead to 2-1 at 2:19.
Patrick Kane had a stellar chance on Ilya Bryzgalov's doorstep soon after, but was denied as the Wild keeper slid tight to the post, slamming the door.
Jason Pominville set Mikael Granlund up with a perfect centering pass on a rush, but Granlund was unable to get a clean shot off, missing a golden opportunity to tie the game with 15 minutes to go.
After just missing a clean chance of a quickly-turned break, Erik Haula fired a sharp pass from the back right of the net to wide-open Kyle Brodziak in the slot. Brodziak one-timed the puck into the open net, tying the game at 2-2 with 13:04 to go. Credit Dany Heatley as well for a strong forecheck, clearing a defenseman off Haula enabling him to make the pass.
The Wild momentum was short lived, due to a stunning individual effort by Patrick Kane.
Alone entering the offensive zone, Kane weaved in and out of Wild defenders before launching a backhanded laser into the top right corner of the net for a 3-2 lead with 11:38 to go.
Chicago sprung loose again just past the midpoint of the period as Kane and Patrick Sharp had a clear 2-on-1 break. Superb backchecking by Ryan Suter ran down the play, and Bryzgalov held firm on Kane's shot at the end of the rush.
Brodziak's hot hand nearly paid off again with six to go, as he connected with a crease-crashing Matt Moulson, whose one-timer was tipped just wide by Corey Crawford.
Rather that going into a defensive shell, Chicago kept surging, testing Bryzgalov several times before Kane struck again with 3:13 to go.
Slipping open just to Bryzgalov's right, Kane was the recipient of what was either a tremendously skillful tip or simply a fortunate re-direct in the slot by Ben Smith off a shot from the point. Kane's casual tip for back-to-back goals made it 4-2.
Chicago added an empty netter moments after the Wild pulled Bryzgalov for the extra attacker. Credit Bryan Bickell with the half-rink shot that made it 5-2 with 2:41 to go.
Chicago wins 5-2, taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Game 2 is Sunday afternoon at 2pm CT in Chicago.
END PERIOD 2: Minnesota 0, Chicago 2
Scoring: CHI - Hossa (2)
Shots: MIN - 17 (25 total); CHI - 3 (16)
Power Play: MIN - 0/2 (0/3); CHI 1*/3 (2*/4) *-one ongoing to third
The Wild flew out of the locker room generating a handful of chances in the first minute of the second period, none better than a Mikael Granlund deflection in front that fluttered inches over the crossbar.
Chicago weathered the storm and nearly counterpunched when a speedy Marian Hossa rush up the right wing delivered the puck in front to Jonathan Toews. Two Wild defenders did enough to keep the Blackhawks captain from getting his stick down to control the puck.
The opening five minutes offered both teams good rushes each way as the action swung back and forth - contrasting with the relative 'feeling out' nature of the first twenty minutes.
Chicago nearly connected on a highlight reel goal seven minutes in as a Toews backhanded pass skittered just out of Hossa's reach on the far post.
The Wild went on the power play at 12:47 as Chicago was caught for too many men on the ice, but despite a few moderate chances they were unable to break through.
The Wild returned the favor with 9:51 left when Jonas Brodin returned to the box for high sticking a second time this game.
And for a second time this game, the Blackhawks made the man-advantage count. Brandon Saad cut across the top of the slot, and drew all the attention of the Wild defenders. Saad threaded a pass across the grain to Marian Hossa, who was all alone on Ilya Bryzgalov's right post. Hossa had plenty of time to fire into a virtually empty net for a 2-0 Chicago lead with 8:39 left in the period.
The Wild had a chance to recoup some of the slipping momentum when Nick Leddy went off soon after for elbowing, but Chicago keeper Corey Crawford started to loom larger and larger.
Crawford made a couple shining saves to deny any spark the Wild managed to create, killing off the power play.
Despite the Wild outshooting the Blackhawks 17-3 in the period, Crawford was clearly gaining steam - continuing to get clear looks at Wild shots and maintaining his shutout with save after save.
The Wild were also prone to shooting wide, as their 17-3 shots-on-goal advantage could have been even greater.
The Wild returned the too-many-men favor from earlier back to Chicago with :47 left in the period, but no damage was done.
Chicago leads 2-0 through two, and will have just over a minute of a man advantage at the start of the third.
END PERIOD 1: Minnesota 0, Chicago 1
Scoring: CHI - Bickell (3)
Shots: MIN - 8; CHI - 13
Power Plays: MIN - 0/1; CHI 1/1
Chicago had the first strong chance of the game two minutes in as Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa ran a drop-pass combination that gave Hossa a solid look from the slot, but Ilya Bryzgalov fended off his first puck of the game, flashing his right leg pad to make the save.
Minnesota earned the first power play of the game 3:13 in as Chicago's Andrew Shaw was sent off for interference, but they were unable to threaten.
The play was balanced and deliberate through the midpoint of the period, when Toews set a screen to Bryzgalov's left, but a shot sailed narrowly wide of the post.
Shortly after, Cody McCormick and Erik Haula had the Wild's best opportunity thus far but Haula couldn't stabilize a bouncing puck in front of the Blackhawks goal. The Wild maintained pressure on the Hawks net through a couple shifts, but couldn't get a clean chance to beat Corey Crawford.
The opening of the game wasn't overly physical, as some of the early minutes of the Avalanche series were. However Clayton Stoner and Andrew Shaw swapped hard checks early - with Shaw limping off the ice and heading to the dressing room after Stoner's retaliation.
Chicago's first power play came with 6:41 left in the first when Jonas Brodin's stick-check slid up the shaft of Marian Hossa's stick, striking him in the face for a double-minor for high sticking.
Chicago peppered Bryzgalov for the first minute, sustaining pressure in the Wild zone.
A would-be clear via slapshot ended up being a perfect pass to a streaking Zach Parise at center ice. Alone on a breakaway, Parise was unable to convert on the shorthanded rush.
Moments later, Chicago broke through. Brent Seabrook had time at the point to fire a seeing-eye puck through a thick screen of players. Bryzgalov was leaning left, the puck came in on the right and ricocheted slightly off Bryan Bickell to find the net for a 1-0 Chicago lead with 5:12 left in the first.
The Wild managed to kill off the rest of Brodin's double minor without any further consequence - even springing Erik Haula on another near-breakaway in the final seconds of the penalty kill, but he was unable to control a bouncing puck.
As the three-minute mark passed, the Blackhawks managed to create a massive scrum around Bryzgalov. The puck rattled around sticks, skates and fallen bodies... requiring a video review to determine if - and when - the puck might have crossed the goal line.
The video review determined the puck did not cross the line before the whistle was blown so the score remained 1-0, where it remained through the end of the period.
KSTP Sports is live at United Center where the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks are skating in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup Playoff second round series.
Refresh this page throughout the game for period-by-period updates, as well as the complete game story and Wild locker room interviews following the conclusion of the game.
Chicago and Minnesota clashed in a first round series last season, which ended in a 4-games-to-1 Blackhawks victory. They marched on from there to claim the Stanley Cup.
Chicago is seeking a 3rd Stanley Cup in five seasons, which would rank among the best title runs in the NHL since the 1980's.
The Wild are coming off a grueling seven-game series won over Colorado that culminated in a seventh-game overtime thriller.
This is only the second time the Wild have reached the second round of the NHL postseason. They advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 2003, the only other time they've recorded a postseason series win.
As you await faceoff, watch this KSTP Web Chat as 1500ESPN's Judd Zulgad and KSTP.com's Cory Kampschroer discuss what lies ahead for the Wild as they take on the defending Stanley Cup Champions.