Chicago Blackhawks bounce back, outplay the Wild to snag 2-1 win

Blackhawks bounce back, outplay the Wild to snag 2-1 win

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The question needed to be asked after a bad Game 4 loss - did the Wild break the will of the Chicago Blackhawks? After a hard fought 2-1 victory the Hawks showed their resolve and now have a chance to eliminate the Wild on Tuesday night.

In Game 5, it seemed for the Blackhawks to win they would have to outplay the Wild in the second period. They were already down by a goal and could have been only one bad 20 minute stanza from falling behind in the series.

In impressive fashion the Hawks came up with their best second period in this series, and probably in the playoffs. That’s what I tweeted after the middle frame ended. Then Joel Quenneville also remarked in post game comments he felt the second period was the best of this series for his club.

The Blackhawks turned the game by passing better and getting to the net. Once things started to click the pace was faster and the Hawks stayed aggressive over the final 40 minutes. The Hawks held Minnesota to only six shots while they registered 15 shots on goal in the second frame.

Maybe most important is the Wild looked like the team that was back on their heels toward the end of middle period. The Blackhawks came out and began to pass better and then were able to play at a faster pace. Once that happened the Wild had trouble getting their offense going as the Blackhawk forecheck was aggressive.

The Wild didn’t make it easy as they scored first and up until this game that was a winning formula. In Round 2 of the playoffs the team to score first was 19-0. That was a reason going into the second frame it seemed like the Blackhawks would have to win the period to succeed. That’s exactly what they did and through 40 minutes the game was tied at one.

The Minnesota score came after the Blackhawks chipped the puck in but didn’t skate into the zone quickly, they seemed to hold up at the blueline. Defenseman Jared Spurgeon had time behind his own net. He then sent an outlet pass to the fleet-footed Erik Haula who had open ice. Haula flew into the Hawks zone, Corey Crawford stopped his first shot but fumbled the puck. Haula got his own rebound and gave the Wild the lead.

The Hawks scored their two goals by getting in Ilya Bryzgalov’s face. That's something they didn’t do enough of in the previous two contests.

Bryan Bickell was basically MIA in Minnesota but was very noticeable on Sunday night. Bickell was in perfect position in front of Bryzgalov to deflect a Patrick Kane shot in to get the Hawks on the board.

Two of the Blackhawks best players, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp have been struggling. Marian Hossa has had a good series and for my money was the best Blackhawk on the ice Sunday night.

Sharp and Toews came through on the game-winning goal but it was Hossa that created the scoring chance. Hossa kept control of the puck below the goal line and got it to Sharp who then sent a quick shot at the net. The puck came out to Hossa who got it to Toews who scored.

The game-winning marker came about because of hard work and getting to the net. It sounds easy to do but the Wild made the Hawks work for every goal. In Games 3 and 4 the Blackhawks got outworked and lost, but Sunday night was different.

Sometimes good things happen by chance.

Peter Regin was in the lineup for the first time in the playoffs due to the suspension of Brandon Bollig. Most likely Regin does not play if Bollig was able to dress and he made the most of his opportunity. In a fourth line role Regin played for 11:27 had three hits and won five of nine faceoffs. He was responsible with the puck and brought some speed into the lineup.

The fourth line was better and so was the third unit as Brandon Saad had a big game. Saad skated for 16:42 and recorded three shots and three hits. He played on a line with Marcus Kruger and Kris Versteeg, and they were effective.

Sheldon Brookbank stepped in for Michal Rozsival and played well. His partner Nick Leddy had a better outing as Quenneville was able to spread out the ice time over six defensemen. Duncan Keith led Hawk blueliners with 22:52 of ice time and Brookbank was the low man with 17:13 of playing time.

The Blackhawks weren’t perfect as they were guilty of some poor puck management at times. But Quenneville has to be happy for a number of reasons.

Crawford played really well after allowing one iffy goal. He was strong in the third period, when the going got tough. The third and fourth lines were more effective than in other games. The Blackhawks best players showed up in a big way and none of the top four defenders were asked to play big minutes. Quenneville’s crew also moved their feet and were more disciplined as they were only whistled two times for penalties. Lastly, the Hawks scored ugly goals plus they stay determined and aggressive with the lead.

Since Toews and Kane have arrived in Chicago the Blackhawks have found ways to close out opponents. Once again, although this hasn’t been easy, the Hawks can advance with a win in Minnesota.

There are only two teams left in postseason play that have not lost on home ice, the Hawks and Wild. In Game 6 the Blackhawks will be looking to end the Wilds home win streak. For Minnesota to advance they will be forced to win Game 7 in Chicago.

I will be back on Wednesday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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