(Photo: Blackhawks Facebook)

Chicago came out like a lion against the Minnesota Wild Friday night. The Blackhawks went up by three goals in just eight shots during the first period in what should have powered the team through intermission and on. They weren’t quite that lucky, though, as Minnesota rallied a comeback in the second period before Teuvo Teravainen‘s first playoff goal became a game-winner.

Hardly a minute past puck drop, Brandon Saad fed the puck to Marian Hossa after a steal between Mikael Granlund‘s legs in the defensive zone. Hossa passed back to Saad at center ice and Saad fought Ryan Suter‘s stick in the offensive zone before sending a shot top-shelf for an early lead.

 

 

For the next nearly 12 minutes, the Blackhawks seemed to control momentum despite Minnesota leading shots.

Then, perseverance paid off.

Antoine Vermette won a faceoff in the defensive zone, passing to Brad Richards, who was able to side-step Marco Scandello for a pass to Patrick Kane. Kane sent the puck from the right faceoff circle into the far side of the net for a 2-0 lead with 6:49 left in the period.

 

Then, two minutes later, Duncan Keith poked the puck from point to Andrew Shaw, who shot toward a busy net-front, where Marcus Kruger was able to skirt around and backhand the puck in to go up by three before intermission.

Chicago had one fruitless power play in the first and Minnesota led in shots 13-8. Still, the Hawks flew off the ice feeling pretty high.

 

But, in a role reversal of game one in Nashville against the Predators, Chicago’s lead would not last.

The Wild would roar in the second period.

Just 1:21 after they hit the ice again, the Hawks would fail to clear their defensive zone and Thomas Vanek would pass from the right boards to Jason Zucker, who was circling the front of the net, and able to fire the puck in for a 3-1 score.

Then, a couple minutes later, when Michal Rozsival couldn’t keep up with Zach Parise and was sent to the box for holding, the Wild took advantage of a power play.

Vanek fed the puck to Mikko Koivu for a shot that was rebounded in by Parise to narrow Chicago’s lead to 3-2.

 

Granlund scored next to tie the game with 10:30 left in the second. Parise had three attempts in the rush before getting the puck to Granlund in front of the net, where he flipped it top-shelf for a 3-3 score.

“Nobody wants to be up three goals and give up three goals in 10 minutes,” defenseman Johnny Oduya said. “I don’t think that’s anyone’s game plan.”

But, the Blackhawks weren’t going to take this one quietly–not on their ice. They came back to match the Wild in shots for the second period and one just happened to pay off.

With just under 59 seconds left in the second period, Keith took control of the puck along the boards. He passed it back to Patrick Sharp, who dished it to Teravainen just past the top of the faceoff circle. Barely giving the puck time to settle, Teravainen went for the shot–sending it to the far right upper corner of the net and in.

“At the end of the day, you give them an opportunity and they capitalize on it,” Wild Coach Mike Yeo said.

 

“I think that wasn’t the biggest shot, but sometimes good things happen when I shoot,” Teravainen said.

This was his first playoff goal, and it happened to be a game-winner. The last Blackhawk with such luck was Kruger against the Wild in 2013.

 

In fact, Teravainen was rewarded for his efforts.

   

The third period was mainly an attempt by both teams to stifle and score. Chicago led in shots 15-8, but also had to hold off two Wild power plays. In the final few minutes of the game, the Blackhawks maintained great control of the puck to stall the Wild’s chance to pull goalie Devan Dubnyk.

“At the end of the day, you give them an opportunity and they capitalize on it,” Wild Coach Mike Yeo said.

 

It was a physical game, but both teams stayed in check.  


And, on paper, as with the score, they were pretty evenly matched.

What the Hawks need to do for Game Two

  1. DEFENSE: The Hawks give up approximately 38 shots per game in the playoffs, making them last in the remaining teams for shots-against. That’s expecting too much out of even exceptional goaltenders. They allowed about eight fewer shots to the net in the regular season. In the seven games of this postseason, Chicago has allowed its opponents to score three goals in one period five times.
    They need to allow frequent changes and short shifts for the slower defensemen, but still give guys like Keith and Brent Seabrook a chance to catch their breath and play 100 percent.
  2. EARLY and OFTEN: Chicago needs to come out hot and take advantage of the home crowd’s energy. While early three-goal leads can’t be expected, it can’t hurt. Their second periods continue a lackluster trend that started early in the season, and until they can stay fast and smart for a full 60, they’ll need to maximize their potential while they’re feeling the vibe. Dubnyk is going to want to redeem himself.
  3. PLAY SMART: Chicago needs to avoid lazy penalties and hot-headed trips to the box. The Wild had the best penalty kill in the league for the regular season, while Chicago ranked 10th. The Hawks are now the second-worst when opponents have a power play, while Minnesota has managed to score on one-third of their man-advantages.

 

“We’re looking at a team that’s played as well as anyone over the last 50 games,” Coach Joel Quenneville said. “That’s our challenge. They’re dangerous, they’re fast. They’re quick. They have a lot of weaponry in their attack. They have a mobile defense. We have a dangerous team on the other side and they’re going to get their turns. Every game is going to be on the line.”

The Blackhawks roster is expected to stay the same. Kris Versteeg, who did not skate Thursday or Friday because of a lower-body injury, is still considered day to day.

Wild winger Justin Fontaine will be out with a lower-body injury.

 

The Blackhawks host the Wild at 7:30 p.m. CT Sunday for Game 2 before the teams head off to Minnesota.

Sunday, May 3
7:30 p.m. CT
Minnesota at Chicago
NBCSN, CBC, SN360, TVA SportsTuesday, May 5
7 p.m. CT
Chicago at Minnesota
NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Thursday, May 7
8:30 p.m. CT
Chicago at Minnesota
NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports

 

(If needed)
Saturday, May 9

TBD
Minnesota at Chicago

Monday, May 11
TBD
Chicago at Minnesota

Wednesday, May 13
TBD
Minnesota at Chicago

 

(As always, click the bold links for video clips or other information. Gifs via Stephanie Vail @myregularface)

Carly Mullady grew up needing to know more about icing than its deliciousness on cupcakes. She's the lone daughter of four children, with a father who was among the last cut from the Midwest tryouts for the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic team. And she knows very little matches the thrill that happens from puck-drop to handshakes. A rink didn’t return to her hometown until she was gone, but she’s been able to see two younger brothers on the ice. She's their feistiest fan. Her other hockey loyalty lies with the Blackhawks--whether it's meant seeing games for $8 with student IDs when the Madhouse didn’t have much of a temper at all, or dancing to Chelsea Dagger at standing room only--there’s something magical about a roaring anthem, the Indianhead sweater, and the Original Six. A former journalist and current editor, she carries a penchant for excitement (and maybe even fighting) with a resume that includes working for Chicago-area newspapers, and television, including The Jerry Springer Show, as well as NBCUniversal in New York. After East Coast living and a return to the Chicago area, the new Mrs. is giving Graceland a go with her Southern Gent, who now shares her adoration of the game, and their rescue dog, Doc Holliday. Other interests include Cubs, Bears, Illini, Crimson Tide, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, baking a mean pineapple upside-down cake, Kate Spade accessories, and a properly coordinated cardigan for every ensemble.

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