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(Sunday, May 4th)
Final Score: Chicago 4, Minnesota 1
Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Bryan Bickell supplied a goal and two assists, Brandon Saad scored twice, and the Chicago Blackhawks secured a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series on Sunday at United Center.
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 defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, who have won six straight games, including a 5-2 win in Game 1 behind a pair of third-period goals from Patrick Kane.
"I thought (we were) much better overall, all three periods for us," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville, who picked up his 800th career win behind the bench. "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.
Ilya Bryzgalov allowed three goals on 21 shots for the Wild, who have lost 10 of 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."
The Wild will look to rebound Tuesday, when they welcome the Blackhawks to Minnesota for Game 3.
Bickell helped get the Blackhawks on the board just over 11 minutes into the game, as his stretch pass from his own zone found Hossa behind the defense. Bryzgalov turned aside Hossa's breakaway attempt with a stellar right pad save, but the rebound deflected high in the air and landed in the crease, where a trailing Toews tapped it home for a 1-0 lead at 11:02.
"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."
Saad doubled the spread late in the second just two seconds after a hooking minor against Minnesota's Justin Fontaine expired.
With Chicago working in the Minnesota zone, Saad received a pass in the right circle and worked into the slot before ripping a wrister that knuckled high over Bryzgalov's blocker-side shoulder to make it 2-0 with 56.0 ticks left in the period.
Minnesota scored early in the third to make things interesting, as Erik Haula's cross-ice feed to the left circle landed on the stick of Clayton Stoner. Rather than fire a one-timer, Stoner touched the disc to his right for McCormick, who snuck a shot past Crawford's blocker to make it 2-1 at 2:00.
Minnesota failed to muster much offense the rest of the way, putting just four shots on net over the final 20 minutes.
Bickell helped eliminate any thoughts of a Wild comeback late in the third when he rifled a wrister over Bryzgalov's glove from the left circle for a 3-1 lead at 17:15.
Chicago center Andrew Shaw missed the contest after exiting Game 1 with a lower-body injury ... Minnesota's lone win in its last 11 road playoff games came against Colorado in Game 7 of the opening round ... Chicago's Niklas Hjalmarsson supplied two assists ... Toews extended his point streak to six games, while Bickell has at least one point in five straight games ... Crawford extended his win streak to a postseason career-high six games.
05/04 19:43:06 ET