CHICAGO – Bryan Bickell had a goal and two assists, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 4 -1 on Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
Brandon Saad scored his first two goals of the postseason, and Chicago earned its sixth consecutive win despite stretches of lackluster play in the second and third periods. Corey Crawford made 18 saves in another solid performance.
Cody McCormick scored his second career playoff goal, but Minnesota missed another chance to steal home-ice advantage from the defending Stanley Cup champions.
The series opener was tied at 2 in the third period before Patrick Kane scored two of Chicago’s final three goals in a 5-2 victory on Friday night.
Game 3 is Tuesday night in Minnesota.
Clayton Stoner and Erik Haula made nice passed to set up McCormick’s first playoff goal in three years 2 minutes into the third, trimming Chicago’s lead to 2-1. Crawford then batted a potential tying shot from Charlie Coyle over the crossbar.
The Blackhawks eventually regained their composure and turned up the pressure again. Bickell shot the puck off the crossbar on a break with 4:39 to go.
Given a second chance, the physical forward delivered. Marian Hossa and Bickell got loose on another break, and Bickell buried his shot into the upper right corner to extend Chicago’s lead to 3-1 at 17:15.
Saad added an empty-net goal as the Blackhawks improved to 16-2 in home playoff games over the last two years. They are 5-0 at the United Center in this postseason.
Chicago played without forward Andrew Shaw, who was out with a lower-body injury. Shaw left the series opener after he was hit hard by Stoner in the first period. He appeared to favor his right side as he made his way off the ice.
Shaw, who had 19 goals and 20 assists in the regular season, is expected to travel with the team to Minnesota. Wild coach Joel Quenneville said he likely would be able to play in Game 3.
Chicago jumped out to a 2-0 lead for the second straight game. Jonathan Toews scored a rebound goal after goalie Ilya Bryzgalov stopped Hossa on a breakaway in the first, and Saad sent a shot over Bryzgalov’s right shoulder right after a power play expired in the second.
Haula had a great scoring opportunity on the right side of the net after Crawford lost track of the puck in the first. But Ben Smith got back, and Haula put a drive off the side of the net.
The Wild failed to convert on their only power play after going 0 for 3 with the man advantage in the opener. They went 0 for 17 on the power play when they were eliminated by the Blackhawks in five games in 2013.