NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, May 13th
(All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (3-2) at Minnesota Wild (2-3), 9 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Wild hope to push the Western Conference
semifinals to the limit on Tuesday when they host the Chicago Blackhawks in
Game 6 from Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild entered this best-of-seven series as heavy underdogs against the
defending Stanley Cup champions and fell behind 2-0 in Games 1 and 2 in
Chicago before evening the set at 2-2 on home ice. The Blackhawks, however,
regained the upper hand in the series with a victory in Sunday's Game 5 and
will try to punch another ticket to the Western Conference finals tonight.
A victory tonight would give the Blackhawks, who also won the Cup in 2010,
their fourth trip to the third round in six seasons. Chicago, of course, is
trying to become the first team to win consecutive Stanley Cup titles since
Detroit pulled off the repeat in 1997 and '98.
Chicago posted a 2-1 decision in the Windy City to grab a 3-2 lead. Jonathan
Toews registered the winning goal early in the third period and Corey Crawford
stopped 27 shots to put the Blackhawks one win away from the West finals.
Bryan Bickell also scored and Patrick Sharp contributed a pair of assists for
"The whole game, the whole series has been very tight," Blackhawks head coach
Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we showed more determination in the puck
In order to end the series in six games, the Blackhawks will have to become
the first road team in this postseason to win at Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota
is 5-0 in St. Paul in the 2014 playoffs and last lost a postseason game on
home ice when Chicago won Game 4 of last spring's opening-round series. The
Blackhawks went on to win that set with a Game 5 victory on home ice.
"We definitely would like to finish it there," Chicago forward Marian Hossa
said of Game 6. "We know how hard it is to play in their building and we know
we have to be better than we were in the last three games."
If Minnesota is able to stay perfect at home on Tuesday, the clubs will meet
Thursday at the United Center for a decisive Game 7.
Erik Haula picked up the lone tally for the Wild on Sunday, while Ilya
Bryzgalov made 26 saves in defeat.
"We had a pretty good start, first period, but then I thought we got soft in
our game," Wild head coach Mike Yeo said.
Minnesota grabbed a 1-0 lead on Haula's goal with 3:27 left in the first, but
Bickell tied it with a power-play goal around the midway point of the second
period. The score stayed 1-1 until Chicago's captain delivered the eventual
game-winner early in the third period.
Chicago took a 2-1 lead with 4:33 played in the third. Hossa kept control of
the puck behind the Minnesota cage and drifted from the right side back to the
left before dishing into the circle for Sharp. His try to the net was
furthered by Hossa, then Toews fended off a Wild checker at the right post and
backhanded the rebound home.
Crawford backed up the tally by stopping all 14 Minnesota shots in the final
20 minutes. Bryzgalov was called to the bench with 1:47 on the clock, and
Crawford endured some close calls on crease rushes by the visitors before the
"It (stinks) to lose a game like this, and obviously when you lose, you're
frustrated, you're mad," Yeo said. "But I think there's been enough in this
series where we should feel confident still. That said, we also recognize that
we'd better be ready."
Minnesota dressed defenseman Skip Prosser in place of Keith Ballard, who
departed Game 4 with an upper-body injury after being checked from behind by
Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig. Ballard is questionable for Game 6, as is
forward Matt Moulson, who sat out the last two games due to an unspecified
Bollig sat out the first of his two-game suspension levied on Saturday and
will complete the ban tonight.
Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw missed a fourth straight game Sunday with a
lower-body injury he suffered in the series opener. He expects to sit out
again on Tuesday.
05/13 10:47:53 ET