What's buzzing:

Unusal suspects lead Blackhawks to 2-0 series lead vs. Wild

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- One of the main things Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has stressed this season is to spread the scoring around.

And that's exactly what the Blackhawks did Friday night in Game 2 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Minnesota Wild. Instead of usual scoring stalwarts Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews or Marian Hossa, it was Patrick Sharp, Michael Frolik and Bryan Bickell that stepped forward in a 5-2 rout at the United Center.

Sharp and Frolik each scored a pair of goals, while Bickell tallied a late-game empty netter as the Blackhawks head to Minnesota leading the best-of-seven series with a commanding 2-0 margin.

Sharp's play was especially of note. He battled injuries down the stretch of the regular season, missing several games, but looked healthy as a horse in Friday's game.

"I feel great now, but at this time of year, your personal stats don't mean much, it's all about getting the wins," Sharp said. "The goals, the assists and contributions are going to come as long as you're playing hard and playing for the team. It feels nice (to score two goals), but it feels better to get two wins at home."

Sharp scored his first goal at 3:44 of the third period and followed that up with his second tally at 15:08. Both goals came on picture-perfect passes from teammate Kane.

Bickell added Chicago's final goal with just over 10 seconds left in the game after the Wild had pulled their goalie, leaving an open net.

"There was clearly another level to their game tonight," Wild coach Mike Yeo said about the Blackhawks. "I'd say there was at least another level to ours that was unfortunately in the wrong direction."

While Sharp's goals were the icing on the cake for the Blackhawks, Frolik's two goals earlier in the game gave Chicago all the ingredients it needed to work with, simply overwhelming the Wild, who they outshot by a huge 48-28 margin in the game.

"We played great tonight, moved the puck well and were skating hard and fast, made some great plays by our goals and some key goals at key times," winning goalie Corey Crawford said. "It was overall a great game by our team."

After spotting the home team to a 2-0 lead on Frolik's goals, Devin Setoguchi put the Wild on the scoreboard at 17:57 of the second period. But with the game finishing in defeat, it was of little consolation.

"We're not executing," Setoguchi said. "You have to give them credit for taking a win from us, but also we need to be better. That's as simple as I can pretty much say.

"This one stings tonight. We have to come to the rink tomorrow and prepare for Game 3 and have to win at home. We know what they're going to bring every night and we have to react. We need to be the aggressor and push now."

The Wild's other goal came at 16:29 of the third period when defenseman Marco Scandella slipped a shot past the screened Crawford to make it 4-2, a bit too little, too late for Minnesota.

Given the outstanding regular season they had, the Blackhawks showed they wanted to send the Wild back home down 0-2. And now that the series shifts to Minnesota, the Blackhawks look to keep their momentum going in Game 3 Sunday in Minnesota.

"We're looking to be excited about getting off to a strong start in their building, quiet the crowd and do what we have to do," Quenneville said. "But, it's going to be a hard game, very hard, and starts are critical, so let's make sure we're ready to play."

Frolik did his part to see that happen for the Blackhawks, opening the scoring with his first goal of the playoffs at 8:34 of the first period on a wrist shot past Minnesota backup goalie Josh Harding.

"Josh was fantastic, but we left him out to dry, unfortunately," Yeo said. "They were better tonight from Game 1 and we were worst, and that's kind of what you saw.

"This was a team effort tonight and, unfortunately, it wasn't a very good one."

Frolik then made it 2-0 just 49 seconds into the second period with another wrist shot past Harding, this time a short-handed penalty-kill goal.

"We wanted to take advantage of home ice and that's what we did," Frolik said. "We're now with a 2-0 lead and know it's going to be a hard game in Minnie (Minnesota) and we have to be sharp."

Added Quenneville, "Obviously when you score short-handed on the penalty kill, it's a huge goal for us and a lot of times, those are the differentials in the game."

Including his Game 1 win, Crawford is now 4-1-2 lifetime against the Wild. The injured Emery, meanwhile, is 4-0-1 lifetime vs. Minnesota.

"You want to play well, play well at home and win the games at home," Crawford said. "I feel really good. I go out there, battle and am seeing the puck well, not giving up on any play."

Injuries continued to hound both teams. Wild No. 1 goalie Niklas Backstrom remained on the sidelines with a lower body injury. For Chicago, Ray Emery also continued to be sidelined by a lower body injury. Yeo is unsure if Backstrom will play in Game 3.

Meanwhile, Quenneville said both Emery and another injured Hawk, Dave Bolland, will travel to Minnesota and could see action in the series.

NOTES: Games 3 through 5 (if necessary) will be on Minnesota's home ice. Game 3 is Sunday, Game 4 on Tuesday and Game 5 (if needed) will be Thursday. If the series goes to six or seven games, those games will be played at Chicago on May 11 and May 12. ... Backup goalie Henrik Karlsson is the only Blackhawks player yet to have playoff experience, while the Wild had 12 players who had never been in an NHL playoff game prior to the start of this series on Tuesday. ... Taylor Kinney, star of the popular NBC TV show "Chicago Fire," took part in a shoot-the-goal contest between the second and third periods, but missed on all three of his chances. Kinney is also the boyfriend of pop music superstar Lady Gaga. ... Attendance was 22,012.

Instantly join a new league.

League type:
Free Yahoo League
League size:
10 players
Draft time:
Sep 4 9:00 am
View Comments (6)