Home Team in Caps
Montreal 6, TAMPA BAY 2 – TBL leads series 3-1
Chicago 4, MINNESOTA 3 – CHI wins series 4-0
BLACKHAWKS ADVANCE AFTER FRANTIC FINISH IN MINNESOTA
Ahead 4-1 in the third period, the Chicago Blackhawks surrendered two goals in 51 seconds – as the teams combined for four goals in the final 6:40 of regulation – but held on to complete a four-game sweep of the Minnesota Wild and become the first team to advance to the conference finals in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
* The Blackhawks earned their ninth all-time sweep of a best-of-7 series and their first since the 2010 Western Conference Final vs. the San Jose Sharks. They have won all 11 best-of-7 series in which they held a 3-0 lead.
* Chicago completed a four-game sweep on the road for the first time since the 1996 WQF at the Calgary Flames, when Joe Murphy scored the series-clinching goal at 10:02 of the third overtime.
* The Blackhawks also eliminated the Wild from the playoffs in 2013 (4-1 series win in WQF) and 2014 (4-2 series win in Western Conference Second Round). Via Elias, Chicago is the first team to eliminate the same opponent in three consecutive postseasons since the Toronto Maple Leafs ousted the Ottawa Senators in each year from 2000-02.
* Corey Crawford made 34 saves to earn his fifth consecutive victory dating to Game 6 of the first round vs. the Nashville Predators, when he earned a 13-save win in relief of Scott Darling. Overall, he improved to 5-1 in seven appearances this postseason (2.60 GAA, .916 SV%, 1 SO).
* Crawford also earned his sixth consecutive postseason victory against the Wild dating to Game 5 of last year's second round (1.46 GAA, .954 SV%, 1 SO in that span). Overall, he improved to 12-3 in 15 career playoff appearances vs. the Wild (1.69 GAA, .940 SV%, 2 SO).
* Marian Hossa scored the eventual winning tally into an empty-net at 16:53 of the third period, his second career series-clinching goal (also Game 5 of 2008 WSF vs. New York Rangers while with the Pittsburgh Penguins). Via Elias, Hossa's tally was the first empty-net series-clinching goal since April 28, 1991 (Bobby Smith with the Minnesota North Stars vs. the St. Louis Blues, 3-2 W).
* Hossa's goal also was the second shorthanded goal of his postseason career. Elias adds he is the first Blackhawks player to score a series-clinching goal while shorthanded since Steve Larmer on April 30, 1990, vs. St. Louis (Game 7 of Norris Division Final, 8-2 W).
* Patrick Kane (1-1—2) also scored in the final period to extend his goal streak to five games (6-2—8), a career high in the postseason. Elias says he became the second player in Blackhawks history to score in every game of a four-game series sweep, joining Dustin Byfuglien (2010 WCF vs. San Jose).
* In addition, Elias adds Kane became the fourth player in Blackhawks history to score in each of the first four games of a playoff series. The others: Bobby Hull (Games 1-5 of 1965 Semifinals vs. the Detroit Red Wings), Larmer (Games 1-4 of 1989 Norris Division Final vs. St. Louis) and Byfuglien (Games 1-4 of 2010 WCF vs. San Jose).
* Kane leads the Blackhawks and ranks second in the NHL with 7-6—13 this postseason (10 GP), including 6-4—10 during a seven-game point streak. He has 44-60—104 in his playoff career (103 GP), including 8-7—15 in 15 games vs. the Wild.
* Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw provided the other goals for the Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell each had two assists.
* The Blackhawks improved to 14-3 in the past 17 games in which they could eliminate an opponent (dating to the 2009 playoffs).
* The Blackhawks will play in the Western Conference Final for the fifth time in the past seven seasons, where they will face the winner of the Calgary Flames-Anaheim Ducks series. Chicago has played Calgary in the postseason four times (2-2), most recently defeating the Flames in six games in the 2009 WQF. They have never faced Anaheim in the postseason.
* ICYMI: Click here to watch the Wild-Blackhawks handshake.
CANADIENS ERUPT FOR SIX GOALS TO STAY ALIVE AGAINST LIGHTNING
The Montreal Canadiens scored five straight goals – powered by 1-2—3 from Max Pacioretty – to avoid elimination and force Game 5 in their second-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
* The Canadiens forced a Game 5 when trailing 3-0 in a best-of-7 series for the sixth time in franchise history (in 11 all-time scenarios). The last time they did so was in the 1997 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals vs. the New Jersey Devils, when they won Game 4 in triple overtime by a 4-3 score before being eliminated in five games.
* The Canadiens earned their first win against the Lightning since April 22, 2014 (Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round), snapping an eight-game skid against the club in 2014-15 (0-7-1; regular season and playoffs). Elias says Montreal is the first team to win their first game of the season against an opponent (regular season and playoffs) when facing elimination in the postseason since Anaheim defeated the Edmonton Oilers in Game 4 of the 2006 WCF. The Ducks were 0-6-1 against the Oilers in 2005-06 (regular season and playoffs) before that victory.
* Pacioretty set a career high for points in a playoff game and also matched his point total from his first eight games in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He ranks second on the Canadiens with 4-2—6 this postseason (behind P.K. Subban: 1-6—7).
* Pacioretty's goal was his first career shorthanded tally in the playoffs (30 GP). The last Canadiens player to score shorthanded in a playoff game in which the team faced elimination was Tomas Plekanec on April 27, 2011 at the Boston Bruins (Game 7 of EQF).
* Pacioretty, who led the Canadiens with 37 goals during the regular season, scored his fourth goal of the playoffs (9 GP). He had five goals in his first 21 career postseason games.
* Jeff Petry and Brendan Gallagher scored 15 seconds apart to give the Canadiens a 5-0 lead in the second period. Torrey Mitchell and Plekanec also scored two goals in a 15-second span in Montreal's 4-3 victory in Game 1 of the first round vs. Ottawa.
* Brandon Prust scored his second career playoff goal (51 GP) and first since May 23, 2012, vs. New Jersey (while with the New York Rangers). Andrei Markov and David Desharnais (GWG) provided the other goals for the Canadiens. Alex Galchenyuk and Subban each had two assists.
* Carey Price made 22 saves to improve to 5-5 with a 2.27 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in this year's playoffs.
* The Canadiens, who had a total of six goals in their previous four games (dating to Game 6 of the first round at Ottawa), scored at least six goals in a postseason game for the first time since May 27, 2014, vs. the Rangers. Montreal avoided elimination in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final with a 7-4 victory against New York before losing the series in six games.
The Lightning will play a Game 5 after holding a 3-0 series lead for the first time in franchise history. They swept their previous two such scenarios (2004 ESF vs. Montreal and 2011 ESF vs. the Washington Capitals). . . . Lightning forwards Ondrej Palat (1-1—2) and Nikita Kucherov each had a power-play goal. Kucherov, who had one goal in his first nine career playoff games, has four goals in the series vs. Montreal (4 GP). . . . Tampa Bay is 6-for-14 with the man advantage in the past last three games (42.9%). The Lightning were 2-for-34 (5.9%) on the power play in their first eight games. . . . After falling behind 4-1, Jason Pominville (17:42) and Nino Niederreiter (18:33) scored 51 seconds apart in the final 2:18 of the third period to bring the Wild within one goal. . . . Erik Haula also scored for the Wild in his second game of the 2015 playoffs. Defenseman Matt Dumba had two assists. . . . The NHL announced the start times for Saturday and Sunday's playoff games. . . . ICYMI: The NHL announced the renewal of a multiyear sponsorship with Discover Financial Services in the U.S.