It seemed too good to be true: The Chicago Blackhawks bounced back from a shaky first game to take control of the second game and hold a 2-0 series lead over the Minnesota Wild. The series shifted to St. Paul, so what could go wrong? How about a lot?
The Wild came out from the beginning, stunning the Blackhawks with their more physical game. The Blackhawks were dominant in the first period until Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s opening goal toward the end of the period to tie the game. The Blackhawks responded weakly after that, giving out a terrible performance that reminded fans (or maybe just me) of their last game against the Vancouver Canucks. It was undisciplined, sloppy, and made fans wonder if the Blackhawks of the past two playoffs were creeping back. Even a third-period tie from Duncan Keith was no match, and the Blackhawks fell 3-2 in overtime.
The only thing that kept the Blackhawks in the game was the play of Corey Crawford. He made 34 saves in the game, at one point making multiple saves and blocking shots from Bouchard, Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Cullen. Had it not been for Crawford’s amazing performance in net, the loss would have surely been worse. “Crow kept us in that game all game,” said Jonathan Toews of his goaltender. “Without him we probably wouldn’t have stood a chance.”
There were only two good things to come of this game, aside from Crawford’s play. Johnny Oduya played in his 27th playoff game and scored his first playoff goal. His goal, as well as Keith’s, was the result of a beautiful pass from Patrick Kane, who ended up with two assists and a plus-2 rating. Kane now has five assists in his three playoff games.
Coach Joel Quenneville summed up the game: “They definitely outplayed us. They played like they had to win and we didn’t.” The Blackhawks will have to learn from today’s giant misstep and find that need to win that was so obviously absent.