8 More To Go: Blackhawks Advance To Western Conference Finals
By Chuck Sudo in News on May 14, 2014 2:00PM
The Blackhawks continued their quest for back-to-back Stanley Cups with a thrilling 2-1 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. Tuesday night. The Hawks handed the Wild their first—and only—home loss in the playoffs and saved a nervous fan base the anxiety of a Game 7 at the United Center.
Chicago scored first when Kris Versteeg deflected the puck past Minnesota goalie Ilya Bryzgalov 1:58 into the game. The two teams skated evenly throughout the period, with Minnesota holding a 9-8 advantage in shots on goal and both Bryzgalov and Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford solid in net, but not really tested.
That changed for Crawford in the second period as Minnesota sent wave after wave of attacks at him. The Wild ended the period with a 14-8 advantage in shots on goal but only managed to score once on a wrist shot by Erik Haula. The third period saw mostly clean skating and few scoring chances on both sides except for a couple Chicago penalties, but Crawford and his teammates managed to keep Minnesota in check. As the game headed into overtime Blackhawks fans crossed their fingers and hoped they would close out the series.
They were able to do just that courtesy of a goal by Patrick Kane on a shot reminiscent of Cup clincher in the 2010 Finals.
It was a wild play to cap a tense, hard-fought series. Kane said after the game.
"It was exciting to get that opportunity and that chance and whatever it is, if the luck finds me or the heavens above give me some blessings in overtime, I'll keep taking it. You know, it's like Johnny [Toews] always finds a way to score game-winners. We have a bunch of guys that have experience and everyone has done it, but it's always exciting when you do it."
Kane earned first star of the game honors but, as with last year's finals, the MVP of the series was Crawford, who continues to rise to the occasion when the Blackhawks need him most. Crawford stopped 34 shots Tuesday night, including two double-shot attempts by Justin Fontaine and a spin-o-rama by Cody McCormick. "It's just sticking with it throughout the whole game and just giving our guys a chance," Crawford said.
The Blackhawks now face the winner of the Los Angeles-Anaheim series. Game 6 between the Kings and Ducks is tonight.