The Chicago Blackhawks became the third team to punch their ticket for Round 2, defeating the Minnesota Wild by a score of 5-1 Thursday and winning the series 4-1. With the win, the Blackhawks became the first higher-seeded club to advance in 2013.
There wasn't much doubt they would, especially in Game 5. The Blackhawks were simply the superior team all night long, outshooting the Wild 33 to 20, and chasing Josh Harding from the net early in the second period after Marian Hossa's second of the night:
Hossa skated right through Spurgeon there.
That was the 18th shot Harding faced and it came 6:26 into the second. Again: the Wild had 20 shots all game, none of which were from Zach Parise, marking the first time in 244 games that Parise didn't register a shot on goal.
Safe to say if Parise's historically absent, the Wild aren't going to get much done.
But there's no reason for the Wild to point fingers or after this series. They were overmatched, just as most expected they'd be.
Still, the future looks bright in Minnesota. The Wild are ahead of schedule, with players like Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, and Jonas Brodin (who was the league's best rookie this year, even if he didn't have a Calder nomination to support the argument) ready to give this team the depth they need to keep up with teams like the Blackhawks in the future.
Thinking on the future, this playoff series may have been short, but it was still a valuable experience for Minnesota.
"The culture has started to change and expectations are rising," Matt Cullen said after the game, "but we still have a ways to go."
The Blackhawks will either play the Sharks or the Red Wings in Round 2.