Blackhawks take 2-0 series lead against Wild

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) makes a save on a shot by Minnesota Wild left wing...

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) makes a save on a shot by Minnesota Wild left wing Dany Heatley (right) as Blackhawks Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) looks on during the second period in Game 2 of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. (Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports)

RANDY SPORTAK, Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:16 PM ET

CHICAGO - No need for a showtime tie-breaking goal this time around for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Goalie Corey Crawford refused to let it get to that point.

Crawford, an oft-forgotten part of the success story for the defending Stanley Cup champions, provided the highlight-reel save his team needed at the key moment to hold on for a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.

Chicago has a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series.

Game 3 will be Monday in Minnesota.

With the Wild pushing for the equalizer early in the third period, Crawford came up a big-time save that winning teams need.

He got a piece of Zach Parise's offering from the slot, but the puck went into the air, over him and into the net.

Crawford, with the kind of never-say-die play needed, swatted the puck out of the air with his stick to preserve the lead.

Bryan Bickell scored the much needed insurance goal late in the period to seal the deal on a night the script looked very familiar to the series opener.

Jonathan Toews opened the scoring halfway through the first to the delight of the standing room only United Center crowd of 22,018.

Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov made an outstanding leg save to deny Marian Hossa on a breakaway chance, but Toews was unchecked as he trailed on the play and potted the rebound goal.

Slow start for the Wild? Their two shots on goal in the opening frame is the fewest for a period in the franchise's playoff history, but that number didn't tell the whole story.

Both Niklas Hjalmarsson, with flour blocks, and Nick Leddy (three) made more saves than Crawford in the first 20 minutes.

Chicago’s Brandon Saad doubled the lead in the final minute of the second period with his first goal in 20 games just as a power play expired.

Saad wheeled and fired from the slot and his shot ticked off Zach Parise's stick into the top corner.

Down 2-0 after 40 minutes isn't new to the Wild – having erased that exact deficit in the period last game – and the visitors showed their resiliency by getting on the board early in the third period.

Cody McCormick finished an excellent passing play with Erik Haula and Clayton Stoner to make it a one-goal game.

Saad scored into an empty net to round out the scoring.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SunRandySportak

 


Videos

Photos