Patrick Kane

Video: Crawford, Kane help Blackhawks push Wild to brink of elimination

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The Chicago Blackhawks needed only the one goal, apparently. Their goalie Corey Crawford was the difference, putting forward arguably his best performance of these Stanley Cup playoffs on Tuesday.

Thanks to a 30-save shutout from Crawford and a goal from the red-hot Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks took Game 3 by a final score of 1-0, and now have the Wild on the brink of elimination and a surprising sweep in the second round.

Kane needed only the slightest space to sneak a wrist shot by Devan Dubnyk on a first-period power play, giving himself at least a goal in each of the first three games to begin this series.

Crawford, who endured his struggles early in the first round, was the story the rest of the way against the Wild. He recorded his fourth career post-season shutout.

He denied Mikael Granlund on a breakaway in the second period. He stuck out the left pad just in time to stop the puck on the goal line during a scramble in front of him in the second.

And again, in the third, with the Wild buzzing around his crease for the equalizer, Crawford was forced to abandon his stick, falling back to keep the puck out with his blocker.

For every challenge the Wild threw his way in Game 3, Crawford had the answer.

And now the Blackhawks are one win away from their third consecutive trip to the Western Conference final.

Video: Kane continues hot streak, gives Blackhawks lead over Wild in Game 3

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Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane has goals in the first three games of this second-round series against the Minnesota Wild — a rare feat within the Blackhawks franchise over the last 25 years.

His power play goal late in the first period of Game 3 gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead, and they carried that advantage into the third period on the road in Minnesota. A win for the Blackhawks and they would put the Wild one loss away from elimination and a potential sweep. With his goal tonight, Kane has scored in each of his last four playoff games, dating back to the series clincher against Nashville.

Flyers will be ‘extremely patient’ with youngsters, but ‘want a winner as soon as possible’

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Depending who you ask, it’s either a smart and noble strategy, one that’s been successful for a team like the Detroit Red Wings, or it’s like wanting to have your cake and eat it too, and the reason a team like the Detroit Red Wings hasn’t made a deep playoff run in a number of years.

That strategy is, of course, doing everything you can to win now, while simultaneously and patiently developing youngsters for the future.

It’s what Flyers owner Ed Snider wants to do in Philadelphia, as opposed to tearing it down and rebuilding from scratch, a la Buffalo or Edmonton.

Snider told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the plan for the Flyers is to “be extremely patient with all of the young players we have coming.” But at the same time, GM Ron Hextall is “going to do everything in his power to produce a winner as soon as possible, which means it could be trades, it could be coaching, it could be all kinds of things.”

It’s a similar story in Vancouver, where the aging Canucks “want to draft and develop well, but we want our young kids to learn how to play in a winning environment, so they learn the right way to play.”

The obvious challenge for that type of plan is drafting, because teams that are neither great nor terrible don’t get top-5 draft picks, i.e. players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Drew Doughty.

That’s not to say it’s impossible to find elite players in the middle of the first round, or even beyond. Anze Kopitar was taken 11th overall; Patrice Bergeron and Duncan Keith were second-rounders.

But the win now/win later strategy does put added pressure on the scouting staff to unearth a few “big-time” diamonds in the rough, like the Wings once did to the extreme with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Nicklas Lidstrom.

The Flyers have the seventh overall selection in this summer’s draft. They also have Tampa Bay’s first-round pick, wherever that may be.

Related: Hextall insists he’s ‘on the same page’ with Snider

Capitals’ third line stands out in Game 3

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It seems premature to even talk about the possibility of the Washington Capitals winning the Stanley Cup, but if it happens, it likely won’t be because Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom carried them there. They’ll have to be major contributors, but Chicago didn’t capture the Cup twice exclusively because Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were at the top of their game just as Pittsburgh didn’t win it all in 2009 thanks solely to Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.

Winning a championship typically requires star players in key areas, but it also demands depth. The Blackhawks have it and at one time so did the Penguins. The most dangerous teams in the league can get key performances out of their third line. That was the case tonight for Washington as Jay Beagle, Andre Burakovsky, and Troy Brouwer had a great game. The trio combined for the lone goal in Washington’s 1-0 win over the Rangers in Game 3, but that’s not all they did, as Bob McKenzie noted:

“I sort of said, we’re going to need some new heroes every night,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said, per the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt.

Of course the Rangers are still very much in their second round series. If Washington is to capitalize on its 2-1 edge, it will need help from a variety of different players.

Yeo: ‘I don’t know what team played that game tonight, but it wasn’t us’

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After suffering a 4-1 loss tonight, the Minnesota Wild are just two defeats away from being eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks for the third straight year. Certainly the team isn’t devoid of hope as the first two contests were in Chicago, so if Minnesota can defend the Xcel Energy Center in Games 3 and 4 then this will essentially be anyone’s series again.

Still just because a road to success remains doesn’t mean that it will be easy for Minnesota to travel. By the sounds of it, Wild coach Mike Yeo thinks they’ll need to make some adjustments to avoid falling victim to a familiar narrative.

“I don’t know what team played that game tonight, but it wasn’t us,” Yeo said, per the team’s Twitter feed. “I think we were focused on the goal, focused on the win, and not focused on the things we needed to do.”

Yeo still thinks the Wild have the personnel in place to win this series, but they have to crack down on the mental mistakes.

“It was a between the ears thing,” the bench boss told the Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff in reference to Sunday’s loss.

Among other things, the Wild need to limit Chicago’s top players. Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp each have three points already in this series while Jonathan Toews netted a shorthanded goal in Game 2. Complicating things further is the fact that Minnesota wasn’t that great of a home team in 2014-15. The Wild were 22-13-6 at the Xcel Energy Center, which ties them for the worst home record of any playoff team.