Blackhawks aim for 3-0 lead over Wild
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Wild will try to get on the board in the Western Conference semifinals when they host the Chicago Blackhawks in Tuesday's Game 3 battle at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild dropped the first two games of this best-of-seven set in Chicago and hope to avoid falling behind 3-0 against the defending Stanley Cup champions. Minnesota was eliminated by the Blackhawks in five games during last season's conference quarterfinals, with the Wild's lone victory coming in Game 3 on home ice.
However, if the Blackhawks can record another win on Tuesday the club will get a chance to sweep the Wild this Friday in Minnesota.
Chicago posted a 5-2 win in Friday's Game 1 in the Windy City and grabbed a 2-0 lead in the series with Sunday's 4-1 triumph at the United Center. Bryan Bickell supplied a goal and two assists and Brandon Saad scored twice to help the Blackhawks extend their series lead.
Saad scored his first of the playoffs in the final minute of the second period to stake Chicago to a 2-0 lead, but Cody McCormick lit the lamp two minutes into the third to slice Minnesota's deficit in half.
However, Corey Crawford kept the Wild at bay from there before Bickell buried a wrister with 2:45 remaining to give the Blackhawks some breathing room.
Saad added an empty-netter 1:22 later to account for the final margin, while Jonathan Toews opened the scoring in the first for the Blackhawks, who have won six straight games after falling behind 2-0 in their opening-round series against St. Louis.
"I thought (we were) much better overall, all three periods for us," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought we were better overall in all areas and all periods."
Marian Hossa added three assists in the victory, while Crawford finished with 18 saves.
Toews extended his point streak to six games, while Bickell has at least one point in five straight games.
Bickell had 17 points on nine goals and eight assists in the 2013 playoffs to help Chicago win its second Cup in four years. He is tied for second in the league with five goals this postseason.
"I just love this time of year," Bickell said of his postseason success. "It's a crucial time, it's a fun time. I know the city is buzzing and we're having a good time. We just need to keep this momentum going to Minnesota."
Ilya Bryzgalov allowed three goals on 21 shots for the Wild, who lost Sunday for the 10th time in their last 11 road playoff games. Bryzgalov got his second straight start in place of an injured Darcy Kuemper, who was forced to exit Minnesota's Game 7 win over Colorado in the first round after sustaining an undisclosed injury late in the contest.
"I thought that we didn't have the legs tonight," Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo said. "That was a big factor. You could see it in our puck support. We were making a lot of stationary plays."
With Kuemper expected to miss another tilt, the situation in net will likely remain unchanged on Tuesday. John Curry, a 30-year-old journeyman, has suited up as Bryzgalov's backup in the first two games of this series and expects to do so again in Game 3. Curry has seen action in six career NHL games and none in the playoffs.
Chicago center Andrew Shaw missed the second contest of this series after exiting Game 1 with a lower-body injury and was replaced in the lineup by Jeremy Morin. Forward Kris Versteeg also played in Game 2 after missing the opener due to illness.
05/06 10:49:27 ET