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Toews Gives Blackhawks A 3-2 Series Lead

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 12, 2014 1:30PM

The Minnesota Wild have done a great job in this Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Blackhawks of neutralizing Chicago’s speed and skill, forcing the defending Cup champs to put bodies in front of the net and fight for scoring opportunities. The Hawks made the most of what chances they had and can now close out the series Tuesday in St. Paul after a 2-1 win at the United Center.

Erik Haula staked Minnesota to a 1-0 lead nearly 17 minutes into the first period with a backhand shot, assisted by Jared Spurgeon. The Wild outshot the Hawks 8-6 in the first 20 minutes in what was a fairly clean-skating period. Bryan Bickell tied the game in the second period when he tipped in a loose puck past Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. The Blackhawks managed to get untracked in the second period and outshot Minnesota 15-6.

In the third period Minnesota attacked Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford early and often but the Blackhawks tightened their defense in front of Crawford and waited for quality scoring opportunities. Jonathan Toews was able to capitalize with a backhand past Bryzgalov at the 4:33 mark.

Big time players, Bulls analyst Stacey King loves to say, and Toews was in the right place at the right time. His teammates ensured the goal would hold up as the game winner as they stopped repeated Minnesota waves late in the game. The Wild outshot Chicago 14-7 in the final 20 minutes.

The Blackhawks now travel back to the Xcel Energy Center, where Minnesota has been undefeated in the playoffs. Although they would love to close out the series and advance to the Western Conference semifinals with a win, the Hawks still have home ice advantage should the Wild win Tuesday, which wasn't lost on Marian Hossa.

"We definitely would like to finish it there. We know how hard it is to play in their building and we know we have to be better than we were in the last three games."

One thing to remind Hossa and Blackhawks fans happy with home ice advantage: Minnesota won Game 7 against Colorado in Denver.