Hockey / Sports

Blackhawks come alive, edge Wild for 3-2 series lead

CHICAGO -- As the Chicago Blackhawks left the ice following a lackluster first period against the Wild on Sunday night, boos from the United Center crowd followed them down the tunnel.

The jeering was justified.

So were the cheers that enveloped the Blackhawks a couple of hours later in the immediate aftermath of their 2-1 victory that gave them a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven series that will continue Tuesday night in St. Paul, Minn.

Jonathan Toews scored his NHL-high fourth game-winning goal of the playoffs in the third period while Bryan Bickell also had a goal to make a winner of goaltender Corey Crawford. He made 27 saves -- allowing only an Erik Haula goal -- in outdueling Ilya Bryzgalov and help the Hawks seize momentum in the series.

The defending Stanley Cup champions broke out of their doldrums to remain undefeated at home in the postseason at 6-0 and become the first team in 20 second-round games around the NHL to win after the opposition scored the first goal. The Blackhawks also improved to 7-0 in Game 5s of series tied at 2-2 since 2009. In the previous six series they've done that, the Hawks have gone on to advance in six games.

The Wild continued to do what they have done best in the series during the first period. After surviving an initial push by the Blackhawks, Minnesota eventually took over the pace and controlled the action. Haula made it pay off with a terrific individual effort when he skated through the Hawks defense and put a shot on Crawford that the goalie stopped. The rebound, however, came back to Haula and the forward batted it into the net for a 1-0 lead.

When the dust had settled on the first, the Hawks had mustered just six shots on goal as they continued to be stymied by the Wild clogging the neutral zone. Minnesota also did an admirable job clearing loose pucks in front of Bryzgalov.

"The crowd was frustrated, we were frustrated," Marian Hossa said. "After the first (period) we just came to the dressing room and (said) we just have to relax, we knew how we need to play. We just needed to take a deep breath, relax and play hard.

"In the second and third we were better and everybody is happy after the game."

The Hawks came out with more purpose in the second period, when they upped their shot total to 15. One of them tied the game when Bickell cashed in on a Hawks power play. Peter Regin, who was inserted into the lineup for the first time since April 12 with Andrew Shaw injured and Brandon Bollig suspended, made an impact when his strong rush to the net resulted in a hooking penalty by Jonas Brodin.

With the man advantage, Patrick Kane fired a shot that Bickell redirected past Bryzgalov to send a jolt into the crowd -- and his teammates.

Not long after Crawford made a strong save on a quality Cody McCormick chance, the Hawks took the lead on Toews' goal. The captain battled in front of the Wild net and during a scramble chipped a backhander just over the goal line.

"As a group we always recognize when we don't bring the right effort," Toews said. "I don't think we were flat by any means, but slowly as the game went along we found ways to play better as a five-man unit. Once one line would go out there and generate a good shift and get us some energy, the next line would follow it right up. That's when we're an effective team is when we have four lines going like that and contributing."

The 28 shots the Hawks sent on Bryzgalov topped their previous high of 22 in the series, as they were able to generate speed and find shooting lanes.

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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