The Chicago Blackhawks were nearly impossible to beat in the regular season and the Minnesota Wild couldn’t solve them in the playoffs. The Blackhawks cruised to a 5-1 victory in Game 5 to eliminate the Wild from the postseason.
Chicago’s only loss came in overtime and Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford allowed just seven goals this series.
Marian Hossa was the hero in this contest, netting Chicago’s first goal of the game and adding an insurance goal at 6:26 of the second period. He also picked up an assist.
Here are a few things to consider:
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- Wild goaltender Josh Harding wasn’t at his best tonight, but he held his own against Chicago for most of the series. Still, would things have gone differently if Niklas Backstrom was available?
- Given recent history, it almost feels like the Chicago Blackhawks’ victory over the eighth seed Minnesota wild was in defiance of the odds. Going into the 2013 campaign, three of the last four Presidents’ Trophy winners lost their first-round series.
- Wild defenseman Ryan Suter logged 27:51 minutes in this game. He deserves a lot of credit for playing huge minutes in this series and just being an all-around great acquisition for Minnesota in his first season with the team.
- All the same, is this campaign a big setback after inking Suter and Zach Parise to massive contracts over the summer, should this season be regarded as a big disappointment for the Minnesota Wild? Or should it be dismissed as a transitional year towards something greater?
- After getting no points in his first four games of the postseason, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews registered two assists tonight.
- If nothing else, the Minnesota Wild played a disciplined game. They were eliminated with the least penalty minutes per postseason contest in the league.
Born in Scottsdale, AZ., Auston Matthews has taken the NHL by storm in his rookie season as an elite talent headlining an impressive freshman class.
Taken first overall last June, Matthews made history with four goals in his debut, surely a dizzying experience for Maple Leafs fans accustomed to heartbreak and frustration. And he really hasn’t slowed down since.
On Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes — and on Hockey Day in America — the 19-year-old Matthews once again put on a show, scoring his 28th goal of the season. That gave Toronto a two-goal lead.
As he’s often done in his brief time in the NHL, this goal was of the spectacular variety, as he broke in off the left wing and, as he was getting hauled down to the ice, slid the puck five-hole on Cam Ward.
Related: Auston Matthews is having a rookie season for the ages
For about a month now, Evander Kane has enjoyed a particularly productive stretch for the Buffalo Sabres.
Kane scored with 5.6 seconds remaining in the first period of Sunday’s game versus the Chicago Blackhawks, converting on a nifty pass from Jack Eichel and going top shelf on Scott Darling.
He now has goals in three straight games, and 15 points in 14 games as the Sabres have fought their way back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
Of course, this latest run comes just before the trade deadline, and Kane’s name has consistently been in speculation about a possible move — in addition to off-ice issues. While GM Tim Murray has said earlier this month that he’s not actively shopping Kane, he also didn’t absolutely rule out trading the 25-year-old left winger, now into his second season in Buffalo.
(Murray: “Is there a crazy deal that somebody could throw at me that would force me to do it? I guess there is.”)
Most impressive about Kane’s numbers — remember he missed time earlier this season with a rib injury and then had a slow start, which drew the ire of the coach — is that he’s done the vast majority of his scoring, 20 of 21 goals, at five-on-five.
The Boston Bruins are back from their bye week, looking to continue a three-game winning streak since Bruce Cassidy took over as head coach from Claude Julien.
The Bruins can extend their streak Sunday, when they visit the San Jose Sharks (8:30 p.m. ET). You can check out the game on NBCSN or online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
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Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
The NHL’s bye week experiment is still a work in progress
Pre-game reading: Are the Bruins and Avalanche on verge of trade?
Sharks have reason to wait on Thornton, Marleau extensions
Jacob Trouba could be getting a call from the NHL Department of Player Safety for a hit to the head of Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone.
The incident occurred during the third period of Sunday’s game, as Stone was passing the puck after he entered the zone. Trouba stepped up and delivered a high hit, resulting in only a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head.
Stone, who dealt with a concussion that was reported in September, remained down on the ice before eventually going to the dressing room.
As you can see from the video, Senators coach Guy Boucher was furious officials on the ice decided this was only worth a minor for Trouba.