If you expected an easy series for the top seeded Chicago Blackhawks, think again. Despite Minnesota’s starting goalie, Nicolas Backstrom unable to go after a pre-game injury, the Hawks and Wild would need overtime to settle Game 1.
The jitters were there early for the Hawks as they struggled to generate any offense in the first period. Corey Crawford got off the a rocky start and gave up a goal to Cal Clutterbuck. But that would be the only goal he would allow and he buckled down and had a great first game.
After settling down during the first intermission, the Hawks started to get some offensive chances. After a Minnesota penalty, Patrick Kane made a great pass to Marian Hossa to tie the game up at one. But from that point on, the game would become a defensive struggle backed up by great goaltending on both sides. Josh Harding in his first start since last January made 35 saves on 37 shots. Crawford stopped 26 of 27.
In overtime, Johnny Oduya took a bad penalty that put the Hawks shorthanded. But one minute into the kill, Jonathan Toews made a great play and drew a penalty to create a four on four. Neither team was able to capitalize with extra space on the ice and the Hawks failed to connect on their one minute of power play time. A couple minutes later, Crawford made a spectacular save on super star Zach Parise to keep the game alive. With under five minutes left in the overtime, Andrew Shaw made a big hit that created a offensive chance for the Hawks. Viktor Stalberg drove hard to the net and Bryan Bickell was able to sneak a tap in past Harding for the game winner.
The Hawks learned fast that the Wild will not surrender the series despite being the eight seed. But a Game 1 victory will hopefully settle the nerves for the Hawks and they can find their game on Friday night. Puck drop set for 8:30P.M.