The President's Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks made things a little easier on themselves as they won Game 2 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series, finding little resistance in defeating the Minnesota Wild, 5-2.
If Game 1 was a nail biter, this one was nearly a laugher. The Hawks outshot the Wild, 48-28, and never had to sit back to protect their lead.
Michael Frolik opened scoring in the first period and doubled the lead with a shorthanded goal 49 seconds into the second period.
Though Minnesota got one back late in the second from Devin Setoguchi, it never looked close. Patrick Sharp was then the beneficiary of two great Patrick Kane passes to double and then triple Chicago's lead.
Here's Kane's spinorama pass on Sharp's second:
Bryan Bickell finished things off with an empty net goal with 11 seconds remaining.
Josh Harding, an emergency starter in Game 1 who heroically took the Hawks to overtime, couldn't repeat that performance Friday night. Considering the barrage he faced as the Hawks forwards danced around the Wild zone, four goals allowed on 48 shots isn't too shabby.
This is no knock on the Wild, who aren't really supposed to give the Hawks too much trouble in this series, but this is what the night's good news amounted to for them:
The series now moves to Minnesota for Game 3 on Sunday afternoon.
1. Can Minnesota (and Josh Harding) keep giving themselves a puncher's chance?
No. Thus far, they've only lost two on the road, so they have home ice to fall back on. But Friday, the team did not look as competitive, and you can't help thinking they blew their chance in Game 1.
2. Will Marian Hossa simply take over this series by sheer will?
No, but Kane might. He was flying all over the ice, setting up Sharp for two third-period goals that put the game away.
3. How well will Corey Crawford play, and how well does he have to play?
I'm not saying Corey Crawford could have slept through this game. But he could have caught up on sleep with a few well-timed naps. He made 27 saves.