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Kane connects twice in third to lift Blackhawks

by Mike G. Morreale

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane has made a living connecting in the clutch for the Chicago Blackhawks during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Chalk up one more highlight-reel finish for No. 88. The 25-year-old right wing added to his impressive body of work Friday with two third-period goals to help the defending Stanley Cup champions to a 5-2 victory against the Minnesota Wild in Game 1 of their Western Conference Second Round series at United Center.

"I've been fortunate enough to be with some great players in this organization, and I think you can go up and down the roster that have been here for a long time and say everyone has done some big things in big games and scored big goals," Kane said. "I think it's part of everyone's game that's been around here with the winning attitude.

"It's always nice to chip in too."

Kane scored his first off a spectacular one-handed backhand low in the right circle to snap a 2-2 tie at 8:22 before getting his fifth of this postseason off a pass from Ben Smith with 3:13 remaining. Kane has 34 goals and 79 points in 82 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Bryan Bickell scored twice, including an empty-net goal with 2:41 to go. Marian Hossa also scored for Chicago, which got 30 saves from Corey Crawford. The Blackhawks were outshot for the fifth time in seven playoff games (32-22).

The Wild pulled into a 2-2 tie on two quick goals to begin the third period. Defenseman Clayton Stoner made it 2-1 when he directed a shot on Crawford that skittered behind him and deflected off the skate of Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya at 2:19. A video review confirmed the goal.

Kyle Brodziak converted a 2-on-1 down low with Erik Haula, lifting home his third of the postseason to Crawford's left at 6:56 to square the game.

"We have to play better with that lead," Kane said. "They made a good push coming back and making it 2-2. Having some time off, we might have been a little rusty. They were coming off a Game 7 win [against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday] so maybe there was a little high for them. I thought they played pretty well. They probably took it to us most of the game, so we'll try to come back with a better effort in Game 2."

Game 2 is Sunday at United Center (3 p.m. ET; NBC, RDS, TSN).

"I didn't mind our first period, but the second period was tilted towards our end kind of like our last game against St. Louis (in the first round Sunday)," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We certainly lost momentum in the game and they capitalized early in the third, and here we are 2-2 with a lot of hockey left in that game. But there was a good response.

"[Kane] came up with one of those goals that not many guys in the League could even try or get it done."

The Minnesota comeback was nothing new. The Wild spent all of their first-round series playing catch up against the Colorado Avalanche, overcoming four one-goal deficits in Game 7 before finally earning a 5-4 victory, their first series win in 11 years.

"It didn't have the feel of a game that we were definitely going to win, and when you don't have everyone playing with urgency in detail then you're leaving it up to chance and that's what we did [Friday]," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "It's not just about effort and trying hard. It's doing things the right way. We didn't have that urgency that adds up to wins this time of the year."

Kane, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy last year and scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in 2010, began his latest offensive surge midway through the third period.

After taking a pass from Patrick Sharp in the neutral zone, Kane crossed the blue line and stickhandled past Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. Kane faked a pass to Patrick Sharp, skated by Brodziak in the right circle while holding away defenseman Jonas Brodin, then lifted a marvelous backhand that beat goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to the short side for a 3-2 lead.

"It's a special play, a great move at the blue line where he juked and jived," Wild forward Jason Pominville said. "He kind of faked a drop to Sharp to go around Brodin and get the shot off. Not many guys can pull that off and be able to do it. We'll have to make sure we have better back pressure and don't give him that opportunity next time."

It's gotten to a point where Sharp expects that type of play out of Kane, whose five goals are tied for the NHL lead this postseason (Paul Stastny, Colorado).

"He's so calm with the puck in tight spaces and he makes shots that not a whole lot of people can make," Sharp said. "That backhand is a good example of it. The thing I like about [Kane] the best is the big stages. He always seems to put one in, whether he's back home in Buffalo in a big game, time and time again in the playoffs he scores goals and it seems like he wants that puck all the time."

The Blackhawks opened a 2-0 lead in the second period on a power-play goal by Hossa at 11:21. The play was set up off a picturesque backhand pass by Brandon Saad from the right circle right onto Hossa's forehand at the left post.

"[Saad] took the puck to the middle and we talk about the side plays, just find a way," Hossa said. "It was a beautiful pass and basically I had an empty net and I just lifted it over the pad."

The Wild exhibited much more life in the period, outshooting the Blackhawks 17-3, but were denied each time by Crawford. He picked up where he left off in the six-game, first-round series win against the St. Louis Blues, when he posted a 1.38 goals-against average and .954 save percentage in four straight victories after losing Games 1 and 2.

"Our guys are doing an unbelievable job on the penalty kill, and special teams was a factor again," Crawford said. "I don't know what else you can say about [Kane]. That guy turns a lot of games around for us. After giving up the lead, he makes another great play to get us right back. He's definitely a difference-maker in a lot of games."

The Blackhawks denied the Wild on three power-play opportunities and finished 2-for-4 with the man-advantage.

Bickell gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead in the first period on the power play when he redirected a shot from the point by Brent Seabrook past Bryzgalov at 14:48.

Brodin received a double-minor for high sticking Hossa at 13:09 to present the Blackhawks with their first big opportunity of the game. Prior to Bickell's goal, Wild forward Zach Parise missed on a shorthanded attempt when he took a lead pass at center ice and skated over the blue line before Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy denied him a quality attempt off a superb backcheck.

The Blackhawks lost right wing Andrew Shaw midway through the first period when he limped off the ice after taking a hard hit from Stoner, who caught Shaw along the right wing half boards in the Minnesota end at 10:34.

"Shaw is a guy that plays hard and goes in hard on the forecheck," Crawford said. "He's a pest in front of their net. He gets in front of the goalie. Even though he's a small guy (5-foot-10, 180 pounds), it seems like he's able to take a lot of goalies' vision away. He's a key player for us. I don't know what he's like right now."


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