Blackhawks advance for first time since 2010
May, 10, 2013
By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- The last time the Chicago Blackhawks were on the winning side of a playoff series they were lifting the Stanley Cup over their heads.
Following that glory in 2010, the Blackhawks endured the agony of being bounced from the first round the past two seasons -- first by the Vancouver Canucks and then the Phoenix Coyotes.
Bill Smith/NHLI/Getty ImagesJonathan Toews says getting past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in three seasons "feels good."
While the Blackhawks arranged themselves with much higher goals again by beginning the season on a 24-game points streak and capturing the Presidents' Trophy, they never forgot that feeling of consecutive first-round defeats. So when the Blackhawks finally moved beyond the Western Conference quarterfinals with a 4-1 series win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, they didn't downplay the significance of it.
"It feels good," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "We worked hard all season to get to this point. Nothing is for sure. Whether you're the first or eighth seed, it doesn't really matter. You got to go out there and work hard to get out of that first round. We did that, too."
The Blackhawks defeated the Wild 5-1 in Game 5 Thursday and took the entire series by doing what they did throughout the regular season to be the NHL's premier team.
• After proving himself in the regular season, Corey Crawford showed he could be a big-game goaltender in the playoffs as well. He stopped 132 of 139 shots and had a 1.32 goals-against average in the series.
"It's a good feeling knowing you have a rock in net back there," Patrick Sharp said.
• The Blackhawks' penalty kill shut out the Wild on all 17 of their power-play opportunities in the series.
• The Blackhawks received contributions from everywhere. They scored two goals on the power play. Marian Hossa on the top line scored three goals and dished out three assists. Sharp and Patrick Kane on the second line combined for five goals and six assists. Bryan Bickell on the third line had three goals. Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger on the fourth line combined for three goals.
"It's been there all year,” Kane said of the team's depth. "Really no surprise when a new guy steps up."
• The Blackhawks' defense held the Wild to seven goals over five games. No Wild player scored more than one goal. Mikko Koivu had no points in the series. Zach Parise had just one goal.
"I think this series we can probably talk about our defense more than anybody as far as getting the attention it's deserved," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Different nights some guys score, some lines are more productive offensively, but at the end of the day our consistency was one of our strengths this year."
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