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Blackhawks win in OT; will face Ducks or Kings

May 14, 2014
INDIANA SPORTS PAGE



NHL RELEASE

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Chicago Blackhawks finally found a way to defeat the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Their reward: A second straight trip to the Western Conference Final.

Patrick Kane scored 9:44 into overtime after a funny deflection off the glass behind the Minnesota net, giving the Blackhawks a 2-1 victory in Game 6 of this Western Conference Second Round series on Tuesday night.

Chicago won the series 4-2 and has won 14 straight games when a series was tied 2-2 since the 2009 playoffs.

"It was exciting to get that opportunity and that chance and whatever it is, if the luck finds me or the heavens above give me some blessings in overtime, I'll keep taking it," Kane said after his sixth game-winning goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the fourth in overtime. "You know, it's like Johnny [Toews] always finds a way to score game-winners. We have a bunch of guys that have experience and everyone has done it, but it's always exciting when you do it."

Chicago will play the winner of the other Western Conference Second Round series between the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings. Anaheim leads that best-of-7 series 3-2. Game 6 is Wednesday night at Staples Center (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS). If the Ducks win, the series will start in Anaheim. If the Kings rally to win, the series will open in Chicago.

Chicago and Los Angeles met in the Western Conference final last spring. Chicago won that series in five games, then beat the Boston Bruins in six games for the organization's second Cup since 2010.

On the winning goal, defenseman Brent Seabrook rimmed the puck into the Minnesota zone, hoping to start a Chicago possession. Instead, the puck hit a seam in the protective glass and unexpectedly popped into the slot. Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter was able to cancel out Chicago's Peter Regin, but Kane beat the backcheck of Minnesota forward Matt Cooke and roofed a shot under the crossbar to silence the full house of 19,396 roaring fans.

"It was a weird feeling tonight because at first you didn't know it was in," Kane said. "It's a good feeling. It was exciting. It's exciting to be in on those goals and have something to do with a big win like this."

As exciting as it was for Kane, it was even more painful for the Wild, who carried the play for much of the night, only to lose on a bad bounce in a building that has been so kind to them all postseason. Minnesota was 5-0 at home before the overtime calamity in Game 6.

"Not even in practice," Minnesota goalie Ilya Bryzgalovsaid when asked if he could ever remember the puck reacting as it did on what turned into the season-ending goal.

 

Bryzgalov, who finished with 25 saves, was distraught over how the change in the puck's direction left him scrambly and helpless.

"I see the puck bounce back and we covered the first guy, but we can't pick up the puck and they score a goal," he said, his voice wavering. It seems our luck was not tonight."

Minnesota carried the game for long periods but could not find the go-ahead goal after Erik Haula tied it with a burst of speed and a deadly shot at 2:29 of the second period.

That goal, Haula's second in as many games, answered a first-period goal by Chicago forward Kris Versteeg, who scored 1:58 into the game on a shot that hit defenseman Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner and bounced over Bryzgalov's shoulder.

But after Haula's goal, Chicago goalie Corey Crawford shut down a Minnesota team that was repeatedly dangerous during the last 40 minutes of regulation and finished with 35 shots.

"I felt pretty good," Crawford said. "Our D men made some big plays, too, on a couple pucks that were sitting there in the blue [of the crease]. They came up big on those ones. It's just sticking with it throughout the whole game and just giving our guys a chance."

In the second period, Crawford stopped 13 of 14 shots, including two double-shot attempts by Justin Fontaine and a spin-o-rama by Cody McCormick.

"He did what he does," Kane said of Crawford, who allowed one goal in Game 5 as well after allowing eight in the previous two games, both losses. "He is a great goaltender and we feel he is the best in the League."

The Wild had won their first five home games, beating the Colorado Avalanche three times and winning Games 3 and 4 here against Chicago. In those two games, Minnesota outscored the Blackhawks 9-2.

But their home-ice mojo finally dried up with a freakish bounce in Game 6 against a team that knows how to convert such opportunities. It left a rancid taste in the mouths of all the Wild players, who, to a man, insisted there was very little separation between their team and the defending Stanley Cup champion.

"We saw how hard it is and this time of the year how hard you have to play on a nightly basis," Minnesota forward Zach Parise said. "We lost to a very good team, but it's not as if we didn't feel we could have won that series. We had our opportunities. It just didn't go our way.

"It can't get any worse than losing like that. You shouldn't lose like that."


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