Friday, July 31, 2015

’Hawks grab series lead

CHICAGO—This time, it was hard work for the Chicago Blackhawks.
No pretty goals on this night—just get to the front of the net and fight for a chance.

Pushed, poked, and prodded by the Minnesota Wild, Jonathan Toews and Co. found a way.
Toews had a tough rebound goal early in the third period as the Blackhawks edged the Wild 2-1 last night to take a 3-2 series lead in their Western Conference semi-final.
“The whole game, the whole series, has been very tight,” noted Chicago coach Joel Quenneville.
“Still not a lot of room and space, but that’s what we’ve got to fight through,” he stressed.
“I thought we showed more determination in the puck area tonight.”
Bryan Bickell also scored and Corey Crawford made 27 saves as Chicago bounced back from consecutive losses in Minnesota that handed the momentum to the Wild heading into Game 5.
But the Blackhawks were back at the United Center, where they improved to 6-0 in this post-season and 17-2 over the past two playoffs.
“As the game went on, we found ways to play better as a five-man unit,” Toews said.
“Once one line would generate a good shift and get us some energy, the next line would follow it right up.
“I think that’s when we’re an effective team, when we have four lines going like that and contributing,” he added.
Erik Haula scored in the first period for the Wild while Ilya Bryzgalov had 26 stops.
Minnesota became the first team to score first in the second round of the NHL playoffs and lose—dropping that record to 19-1, according to STATS.
“We tried to hang on to something we wanted to have happen and we fell victim to it,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said.
Game 6 goes tomorrow night in Minnesota, where the Wild are undefeated in this post-season.
Minnesota had a chance to grab the lead in the third but Crawford made a nice kick save on Cody McCormick about two-and-a-half minutes into the period.
He also had a solid glove stop on Ryan Suter with the Blackhawks clinging to a 2-1 lead with 4:38 to go.
“We just need a better effort,” stressed Wild star Zach Parise.
“Not that it was terrible,” he noted. “I mean, we had our chance to win at the end of the game. We did some things really well.
“But I think we can be better, and we know we can be better.”
Toews, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp combined to put Chicago in front four-and-a-half minutes into the third when Hossa sent the puck in front to Toews at the right post.
The captain was stopped by Bryzgalov, but he managed to slam home a backhand for his fifth goal of the playoffs.
“It was an ugly goal,” admitted Toews, who also had a big hit on Wild forward Mikael Granlund right before he scored.
“As a line, we were playing well and looking to find a way to score,” he noted.
“I happened to get an ugly one on the side.”
Elsewhere, the N.Y. Rangers beat Pittsburgh 3-1 to force Game 7 in their Eastern Conference semi-final series.

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