Chicago Blackhawks do what it takes to defeat the Wild 3-0 - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Blackhawks do what it takes to defeat the Wild 3-0

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The bad luck continues for the Minnesota Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks did what was needed to record a 3-0 victory and take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.

To win a Stanley Cup a team needs some luck, not to sustain key injuries and to benefit from favorable matchups. So far the Blackhawks can check off those requirements. Another important factor for playoff success is to be able to win a short series or two. The Hawks can take a big step forward on that front with an elimination game victory on Thursday night at the United Center.

The Hawks haven't been able to play a complete effective game versus Minnesota yet but the Wild can't catch a break. Now they are down to their third string goaltender as Josh Harding was injured and left after the opening period.

The inexperienced Darcy Kuemper let in a soft goal on the first shot he faced to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead. That was more than enough cushion and after the goal the Xcel Energy Center crowd was very quiet.

The Wild tried to mount challenges but the Hawks controlled them with some tight checking and Corey Crawford was on his game from start to finish. Kuemper settled in but gave up another weak goal to Bryan Bickell in the third period but the Wild were done before then.

For many, Crawford was the biggest question mark coming into the playoffs despite having a great regular season. He continues to be the most consistent player for Chicago. In two if not three games thus far, Crawford has been the best player on either side. The play of the Blackhawks third line has also shined and third pairing defenders Michal Rozsival and Johnny Oduya both have done a fine job.

Patrick Kane as well as Patrick Sharp have had a good series and have been noticeable in every game. Sharp was rewarded with two goals on Tuesday night. Kane has done well to create offense but the other top six forwards haven't had much of an impact. Possibly the Wild should be given more credit, but the Hawks first line needs to score or this will be a difficult postseason.

The third line grinders have carried the load effectively. Bickell, Andrew Shaw and Viktor Stalberg as usual have kept the game simple and have been a force for the Wild to contend with. They don't always show up on the score sheet but the Shaw line seems to recapture momentum and make the Wild defense work very hard.

Duncan Keith came into the game with hardly any sleep after flying home to witness the birth of his first child. Keith started out a bit shaky but came back to play a solid 23:57 and complete a day he will never forget.

Dan Carcillo returned to the lineup for the first time this postseason. Carcillo took an early penalty and wasn't seen often afterward. He played only eights shifts accounting for 3:55. The penalty was kind of a weak call but Carcillo gets zero breaks from referees. He did make slight contact with Tom Gilberts head and once the Wild defenseman looked injured Carcillo was whistled.

It is surprising to me Carcillo has been benched so often after returning from his last injury. Stan Bowman resigned Carcillo in a hurry last spring and it looked like he would be given a big opportunity to play. This is still Joel Quenneville's team and Carcillo evidently hasn't impressed the head coach.

Quenneville hasn't given a whole lot of ice time in this series to the fourth line. Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger have made strong contributions as penalty killers. They too should be included in with the others mentioned as being significant contributors.

The Hawks penalty killing unit has ranked near the top of the NHL all year. So they must be credited for some of the ineffectiveness of the Wild power play. Minnesota went 0-6 Tuesday night and in the series is 0-15 with the man advantage. The Blackhawks power play leaves a lot to be desired as well and they aren't facing a top group of penalty killers.

In the playoffs it often comes down to matchups and what club has been bitten hardest by the injury bug. So far the Blackhawks have benefited from some good fortune and need to end this series in Game 5.

The extra rest should help the Blackhawks and added practice time to work on their power play won't hurt either.

Al's Shots

A sign of a more determined team is often illustrated in two stats, blocked shots and "giveaways" or turnovers.

Tuesday night the Hawks were credited with 26 blocks which was 16 more than the Wild.

The effective Chicago forecheck caused the Wild to have 14 turnovers, the Hawks had only four.

San Jose has swept Vancouver and now will rest and wait for their next playoff opponent to be determined.

Former Blackhawk Cup winner Antti Niemi has been the most valuable Shark this season and was strong versus the Canucks.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson appeared to be throwing in the towel well before the trade deadline by trading a couple of regulars. Wilson commented his team needed to reboot or reset, and that seems to be what happened.

San Jose has been a playoff disappointment for years but now they could face the Blackhawks in Round 2.

If the Hawks closeout the Wild they will play Detroit if they win their series versus the Ducks which is tied at two games each. If not the Hawks will face Niemi and the Sharks, either opponent will be a stiff challenge.

I will be back on Friday and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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