NHL playoffs: Blackhawks roar back to beat Wild, take series lead
CHICAGO — And after being held to 22 or fewer shots in the first four games of their Western Conference semifinal series with the Minnesota Wild, the Chicago Blackhawks roared back Sunday with 28 shots in Game 5 en route to a 2-1 win at home.
Blackhawks team captain and center Jonathan Toews’ fifth goal of the playoffs at 4:33 of the third period was the deciding tally, as Chicago snapped a two-game losing streak and took a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-seven series.
Game 6 is Tuesday in Minnesota.
Chicago was held to 22 or less shots just eight times in the playoffs since 2003, and four of those times came in the current series vs. the Wild.
The Wild, meanwhile, outshot the Blackhawks 100 to 83 in the first four games and managed to connect on only one of their 28 shots Sunday.
Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford shook off his poor showing in the last two games to put the Blackhawks back in the driver’s seat.
“I think it was a pretty solid outing,” Crawford said. “Two losses in a row, we had to end that.”
The series continued a trend where Chicago and Minnesota are the only two remaining teams in this year’s playoffs who have won every game at their respective home arenas. Chicago is now 6-0 at the United Center and Minnesota is 5-0 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
“We have to keep playing simple, keep playing hard and attacking and play our game,” Crawford added.
Overall through the first two rounds of the playoffs to date, Chicago is now 7-4, while Minnesota is 6-6.
Minnesota took a 1-0 lead at 16:33 of the first period when Crawford stopped a shot from Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon, but could not recover in time to stop a rebound by Wild center Erik Haula, who tallied his third goal of the season.
Minnesota wound up outshooting Chicago 8-6 in the first period, prompting an uncharacteristic round of boos from Blackhawks fans as the teams went to their respective locker rooms. That seemed to inspire the Blackhawks to dig deeper when they returned for the middle period.
Chicago tied the game at 9:18 of the second period when left winger Bryan Bickell scored his team-leading sixth goal, pushing the puck past Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov on the power-play.
Early in the third period, Toews was literally Johnny on the spot, scoring the deciding goal on a rebound off a shot by teammate and right winger Marian Hossa past Bryzgalov.
NOTES: Chicago D Niklas Hjalmarsson still can’t speak after being hit in the throat with a puck in Game 2, but he continues to play. ... Blackhawks F Brandon Bollig served the first half of a two-game suspension for an illegal hit on Wild D Keith Ballard. Reported to be suffering from an upper-body injury, Ballard did not make the trip with the Wild for Sunday’s game. ... Wild G Darcy Kuemper remained out for a fifth consecutive game due to an upper-body injury. Minnesota has already lost an inordinately high 47 man-games in the first two rounds of the playoffs. ... Chicago C Andrew Shaw sat out his third game due to an upper-body injury. ... Minnesota leads the NHL with 16 different players having scored goals thus far in this season’s playoffs. ... The attendance was 22,016.
Rangers 3, Penguins 1
Martin St. Louis and Carl Hagelin scored early in the first period as host New York staved off elimination for the second consecutive contest Sunday to force a decisive Game 7 in its Eastern Conference
Derick Brassard also tallied for his third goal in two games and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 36 saves for the Rangers, who travel to Pittsburgh for Tuesday’s showdown. New York has won two of the three contests in the Steel City, posting a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 1 and a 5-1 triumph in Game 5.
The Rangers shot out of the blocks in a hurry as Derek Stepan’s backhanded bid from the slot caromed off the skate of St. Louis and into the net 3:34 into the first period to open the scoring. Hagelin doubled the advantage under three minutes later, collecting his own rebound and backhanding a shot from the left faceoff circle past Marc-Andre Fleury (26 saves) for his fourth goal of the postseason.
Pittsburgh benefited from a friendly carom to halve the deficit with 3:04 remaining in the first. Brandon Sutter’s shot from along the right-wing boards near the circle deflected off New York defenseman Kevin Klein and into the net.
Brassard regained the Rangers’ two-goal advantage with 41⁄2 minutes left in the second. After Fleury failed in his attempt to control a rebound, Brassard alertly kicked the puck off the goaltender before batting it out of mid-air and into the net.
Late Saturday: Ducks 2, Kings 0
John Gibson posted a shutout in his NHL playoff debut Saturday, and captain Ryan Getzlaf celebrated his 29th birthday with a power-play goal and an assist as visiting Anaheim evened its Western Conference second-round series with Los Angeles at two games apiece.
Devante Smith-Pelly also scored and Corey Perry notched a pair of assists for the Pacific Division-champion Ducks, who host a pivotal Game 5 on Monday. Gibson turned aside 28 shots in his first career postseason contest after going 3-0-0 with a shutout in a brief stint during the regular season.
Jonathan Quick allowed two goals on 11 shots in one period before being replaced by rookie Martin Jones, who stopped three shots over the final two sessions. Jones did all of his work in the third as the Kings held Anaheim without a shot on goal in the second period — a playoff first for both teams.
Gibson made several big saves as Los Angeles tested him early before Anaheim broke through with 3:58 remaining in the first period. After Getzlaf’s shot went wide, Perry backhanded the puck from below the end line to Smith-Pelly, who lifted it past Quick from the doorstep.
The Ducks doubled the lead later in the session as Getzlaf backhanded the puck off Quick and into the net from below the end line with 75 seconds left for his fourth goal of the postseason. It was more than enough offensive support for Gibson, who made brilliant saves on Tanner Pearson in the second period and defenseman Jake Muzzin in the third to preserve the shutout.