Blackhawks 5, Wild 2

Jerry Bonkowski, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Patrick Sharp has struggled in recent weeks with injuries, but he looked healthy as ever, scoring a pair of goals to help lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild in Game 2 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series in front of 22,012 at United Center.
The Blackhawks lead the series 2-0. Play moves to Minnesota for the next three games (if a fifth is necessary), starting Sunday.
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 Patrick Kane.
Bryan 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.
While Sharp's goals were the icing on the cake for the Blackhawks, Michael Frolik's two goals earlier in the game gave Chicago all the ingredients they needed to work with, as they simply overwhelmed the Wild, who they outshot 48-28 over the three periods.
After spotting the home team to a 2-0 lead, the visiting Wild cut that margin in half at 17:57 of the second period when Devin Setoguchi scored his first goal of the playoffs, taking a nice pass from Matt Cullen and using a powerful wrist shot to score.
The Wild's other goal came at 16:29 of the third period when defenseman Marco Scandella slipped a shot past screened Chicago goalie Corey Crawford to make it 4-2, a bit too little and a bit too late for Minnesota.
Of note in the second period, the Wild did something that few teams have been able to do this season against the Blackhawks: The Wild outshot the Blackhawk, 15-14. This after Chicago outshot Minnesota 17-7 in the first period.
Chicago made it very clear that it did not want this series to evolve into a situation similar to last year's start in the Western Conference quarterfinals, when the highly favored Blackhawks lost to the upstart Phoenix Coyotes in six games. The Blackhawks also had fresh on their minds the conference quarterfinals in 2011, when they lost four games to three to arch-rival Vancouver.
Given the outstanding regular season they had, the Blackhawks showed they wanted to send the Wild back home down 0-2.
Frolik did his part to see that happen for the Blackhawks, opening the scoring with his first goal of the playoffs -- a short-handed goal -- at 8:34 of the first period on a wrist shot past Minnesota backup goalie Josh Harding.
Frolik then made it 2-0 just 49 seconds into the second period with another wrist shot past Harding.
Injuries continued to hound both teams. Wild No. 1 goalie Niklas Backstrom remained on the sidelines with an unspecified lower body injury (believed to be a groin pull). For Chicago, Ray Emery continued to be sidelined by a lower body injury (also thought to be a groin issue), leaving Corey Crawford to tend the net for the Blackhawks.
Including his Game 1 win, Crawford is now 3-1-2 lifetime against the Wild. The injured Emery, meanwhile, is 4-0-1 lifetime vs. Minnesota.
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.

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