Sometimes, it’s all about opportunities. When they present themselves, you have to take advantage of them.
The Blackhawks found that out first-hand on Sunday night when they got several chances via the Minnesota Wild and capitalized, taking a 4-1 victory in Game 2 and a 2-0 lead in this second-round series. From Jonathan Toews’ short-handed goal off a 2-on-0 play to Patrick Kane’s two goals, the Blackhawks took what was given and took off.
Just because they’re up 2-0 doesn’t mean they can relax. The Wild will be angry and determined to even this series at home, where they were very good this season. But before we delve into what could happen in Game 3, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ Game 2 victory.
1. Corey Crawford rebounds. Minus an ugly goal from Matt Dumba early in the third period, Crawford was stalwart in Game 2. He always talks confidence but there’s no doubt he was shaken during Game 1, especially with the Wild scoring three times in the first 10 minutes of the second period that night. When the Blackhawks needed Crawford on Sunday, he was there. Big stops on Mikael Granlund and Zach Parise in the second period, not long after the Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead, drew the “Co-rey” chants. “They had a couple of big flurries in the game but Corey was outstanding in those situations,” said coach Joel Quenneville. “He kept the momentum going our way even though they had a couple of good looks.”
2. Patrick Kane hits another milestone. Well, we’re calling 101 postseason points a milestone, anyway. It’s an impressive number for the 26-year-old, whose two goals on Sunday night have brought him to that total. He was one of several of the Blackhawks stars who had a strong night. Said Patrick Sharp of Kane: "No drop-off from the regular season. If anything he steps it up. It seems like he’s always scoring big goals. He’s a guy who wants the puck on his stick at all times and you love that as a teammate.”
3. Mistakes cost the Wild. When the Wild is playing at their best, they're a tough team to beat. Just look at what they were able to do from mid-January to April to even get to the postseason after an awful start. But the Wild’s miscues on Sunday hurt. Ryan Suter finished the night a minus-3 and Thomas Vanek was a minus-4. Said Wild coach Mike Yeo of his team’s uncharacteristic outing: “We didn’t make those mistakes. I don’t know what team played that game, but it wasn’t us tonight. It was 0-0 through the midway point of the game. We were doing some OK things without the puck to keep it at 0-0, but with the puck, like I said, that’s not us.”
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4. Teuvo Teravainen improving each game. This series is only two games old but the youngster is having a nice showing in it. After recording the game-winner on Friday night, Teravainen grabbed a loose puck and fed it to Patrick Sharp, who scored to restore the Blackhawks’ two-goal lead in the third period. Said Quenneville on Teravainen: “He comes up with a lot of loose pucks. He has good play recognition [and he] made some nice plays off the rush individually and had some decent looks. You like his game both sides, both ways, and he keeps getting better.”
5. Goodbye to Crawford’s black mask. The mask Crawford got for the postseason suffered a costly dent when Marco Scandella’s shot nailed Crawford flush in it on Sunday night. The first concern was obviously for Crawford. He looked a little off not long after that shot but there was no immediate stoppage of play. He stopped a puck or two and then switched masks, going back to his white one, when play was stopped. “Yeah, it was a new one,” said Crawford, who then channeled White Sox play-by-play man Hawk Harrelson. “He gone.”