The Chicago Blackhawks held serve on home ice against the Minnesota Wild yet again, winning Game 2 of the best-of-seven series by a final score of 4-1 to jump out to a 2-0 series lead. The win moves the Hawks to 5-0-0 at home these playoffs, and 8-0-0 at home against the Wild in the playoffs in the last three years.
Game 2 got off to a pretty boring start. For two teams that pride themselves on their speed and puck movement, the first 20-30 minutes of this one seemed to move at a pretty glacial pace. Chicago held a 1-0 lead in shots in the first seven minutes of play, and the Wild were able to get just one shot attempt off at all in that time. The Blackhawks ended the first with a 9-6 SOG advantage, although it hardly felt like that many shots got on either goalie.
The second was a bit slow for about the first 10 minutes, but the pace quickly picked up. The Blackhawks started to generate some pretty good scoring chances, but one of the best chances they had was wiped out by a pretty silly cross-checking penalty by Andrew Shaw in front of the Minnesota net. However, the Hawks made the best of the ensuing penalty kill, as Marian Hossa beat Wild defenseman Ryan Suter along the boards to create a 2-on-0 with Jonathan Toews, who was able to put home the shorthanded goal, albeit with a bit of puck luck. Devan Dubnyk made the save on Toews' first shot, but the puck then hit the knob of his stick as he adjusted, and the puck just crept past the line to give the Hawks the 1-0 lead.
The Wild quickly picked up the pace following the Hawks opening goal, peppering Corey Crawford with shots and generating a lot of good scoring chances. Crow was equal to it all, though, and even pulled off a couple of highway robberies along the way. Later, a great pass from Duncan Keith through the neutral zone freed up Patrick Kane, who snapped off a quick wrister and beat Dubnyk blocker side to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead, which they would carry into the closing frame.
Minnesota started the third period on the power play, and was able to cash in, as Matt Dumba beat Crawford glove side to get his team on the board. However, the Wild couldn't keep the gap at one for long, as a phenomenal neutral zone defensive play by Teuvo Teraivanen broke up a Wild rush, allowing Patrick Sharp to catch Minnesota in a line change. Shooter scored a goal similar to Kane's, coming on a hard wrist shot, but beat Dubnyk on glove side.
The Wild mustered a few good scoring chances in the minutes following the Sharp goal, but Crawford was able to get in front of every Minnesota shot on goal. He did have a scare with about five minutes remaining, as he took a puck to mask and appeared more dizzy/woozy than just "shaken up." He was able to skate to the bench, though, and made a simple mask change, reverting back to his old white one for the remainder of the game. Kane iced the game with an empty netter with about two minutes remaining, ensuring the Hawks the victory and the 2-0 series lead.
- Teuvo Teravainen was a force in this one. He forced multiple Minnesota turnovers, including the aforementioned one that led to the Sharp goal. He was all over the ice and generated a lot of high quality scoring chances on the rush with his linemates Sharp and Antoine Vermette.
- All four Blackhawks lines were extremely strong in this game. The top line of Saad-Toews-Hossa was great both ways as usual, the middle-six produced three of the four Chicago goals, and the fourth line was solid as well, generating some solid zone presence at times. We've known this team was as deep as any up front, but it felt like it wasn't showing a lot at times throughout the regular season. It's a lot more fun to watch them now as they prove it.
- Corey Crawford was great in this one, and he appeared to be okay after making his mask switch, but that situation just felt very uneasy. While the league has done a better job with the handling of head injuries in the last few years, there's still kind of a grey area for them when it comes to goalies. Where is the line between just being shaken up and needing a minute to regroup, and a possible concussion that demands further evaluation? The protocol would hopefully be the same for goalies in the case of a goalie concussion, but I doubt there are many goalies who are going to tell you that their bell is so rung that they need to be taken out, especially with five minutes left in a playoff game with a 3-1 lead.
Game 3 goes Tuesday night at 7 p.m. CT, as the series heads to the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota.
Adam Hess is a staff writer at Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter at @FeathersInDaHat.