The Chicago Blackhawks got a first period power play goal from Patrick Kane, and that was all Corey Crawford needed as he made 30 saves and helped his team to a 1-0 victory in Game 3 over the Minnesota Wild.
With the victory, the Blackhawks now hold a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, and can clinch a berth in the Western Conference Final with a win on Thursday night.
Minnesota needed to come out of the gate firing in the game, and that’s exactly what they did as they racked up three quality scoring chances early on. Matt Cooke got in behind the Chicago defense and flipped in a backhanded shot attempt, but Corey Crawford was there to make the save. A few moments later, Jason Zucker and Nino Niederreiter each had great chances off a bad clearing attempt by the Blackhawks, but Crawford made two more saves and kept things tied at 0-0.
After that, the Blackhawks seemed to gain momentum, and even a penalty by Antoine Vermette wasn’t enough to slow them down. Eventually the Hawks got a power play of their own, and after Andrew Shaw slapped a pass across the blue line, Patrick Kane picked up the puck and rifled a shot past Devan Dubnyk to give his team a 1-0 lead.
The Blackhawks had a few more good scoring chances late in the period, with Teuvo Teravainen getting stopped on the doorstep and Kane barely missing his second goal of the evening as it whizzed by the far post, but the Wild were able to escape with the deficit at just one goal after 20 minutes of play.
After a boring opening to the period, Minnesota finally was able to get their offense cranking again. Niederreiter got another great chance from in close as he fired a one-timer from a Mikko Koivu feed, and Crawford made the save. Jason Pominville then had a breakaway a few moments later, but it ended up sailing just over the net as he missed a golden scoring chance.
The Wild got a power play late in the period, but Crawford made three more huge saves, including a post-to-post save on a short-angle chance from Zach Parise, to keep his team ahead by a goal after two periods of action.
As the third period got underway, the Blackhawks got a couple of good scoring chances thanks to Patrick Sharp and Brad Richards, but after those fell by the wayside the Wild began to turn the tide. The big Minnesota chance came about halfway through the period as a puck was kicked toward the net by Parise’s skate, but an alert Crawford dropped his goal stick and grabbed the puck with his blocker hand to keep it out of the net.
The Blackhawks gave Minnesota another power play late in the third period thanks to a too many men penalty, but the Wild couldn’t muster a single shot on goal on the man-advantage. The Hawks managed to keep most of the remaining chances Minnesota had to the outside of the ice, and Crawford stayed strong in net as the Hawks secured the shutout and the commanding series lead.
Puck drop on Thursday night will take place at 8:30 p.m. as the Blackhawks look to finish off the series with a sweep of Minnesota at the Xcel Energy Center.