The Chicago Blackhawks jumped all over the Minnesota Wild in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Friday night, scoring three goals in the first period.
And then the Blackhawks gave it right back.
After getting goals from Brandon Saad, Patrick Kane and Marcus Kruger, the Blackhawks allowed goals to Jason Zucker, Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund – all in the first 10 minutes of the second period.
Teuvo Teravainen, however, broke the 3-3 tie with a late goal in the second period, and Chicago survived a pair of Minnesota power-play opportunities in the third to seal the 4-3 win.
Wow, what a game.
“The Blackhawks blitzed them early,” NBC Sports NHL analyst Eddie Olczyk said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The Minnesota Wild have played really well in these playoffs. We talked right before the playoffs started. The Minnesota Wild had Devan Dubnyk. They’re really good in the middle of the ice, playing with a lot of confidence, a lot of traction. They took care of a very good team in St. Louis. They did the job (in that series).”
Dubnyk was shaky against Chicago early, to say the least, but he responded well thereafter, only allowing one goal in the final two periods. He finished with 31 saves on 35 shots (88.6 percent). Corey Crawford, meanwhile, has been hot and cold in the playoffs – mostly cold – and that storyline continued Friday. He gave up three goals in a brutal eight-minute, nine-second stretch in the second period but was stellar for the other 51 minutes and 51 seconds.
“I expect a long series,” Olczyk said. “I expect a series that can go back and forth. But the Blackhawks (came) out like gangbusters early in this Game 1.”
Game 2 is Sunday in Chicago at 8:30 p.m. ET.
In the Eastern Conference semifinals, meanwhile, Tampa Bay beat Montreal, 2-1, in double overtime Friday to take a 1-0 series lead. Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop and Montreal’s Carey Price combined to save 76 of 79 shots (96.2 percent) in a defensive-minded game. That theme should continue throughout the series.
“Both goaltenders are playing really well,” Olczyk said. “The lone goal for Montreal was a bad goal given up by Ben Bishop. It was a soft goal that Max Pacioretty scored.”
No problem. Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov netted the game winner just over two minutes into the second overtime, giving the Lightning a hard-fought win on the road.
It’s been quite a postseason for Tampa Bay, which overcame a 2-1 series deficit to beat Detroit in seven games and now has a one-game lead over Montreal.
“I think Tampa got lucky against Detroit,” Olczyk said. “Detroit out-defended them. I gave Detroit a big shot in that series and they just weren’t able to close them out. Game 4 was the difference. Remember, they had a 2-0 lead with six minutes left to go in the third period to go up 3-1 in the series, and all of a sudden it’s 2-2.
“It was a missed opportunity there for Detroit,” Olczyk continued, “but I think this series has a chance to be really good. I expect low scoring because obviously you got Carey Price for Montreal and Ben Bishop’s played very well. But I give the edge to Tampa in that series. I just think they have a little more offense.”
Tampa Bay has won three straight playoff games, outscoring the opposition 9-3 in the process.
Game 2 is Sunday in Montreal at 6 p.m. ET.