(The Sports Xchange) – Star forward Patrick Kane pounced in overtime to send the Chicago Blackhawks to the Western Conference finals with a 2-1 road victory over the Minnesota Wild in Game Six of their hard-fought series on Tuesday.
Halfway through the first extra period, a dump-in shot hit the glass behind Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and bounced in front of the goal. Kane reacted the quickest, lifting a backhand shot into the upper reaches of the net to seal a 4-2 series win.
“He’s a special player,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told reporters of Kane, who famously scored the overtime winner against Philadelphia to win the Stanley Cup for Chicago in 2010.
“Guys have that instinct, have that knack of finding pucks, wanting to be out there, wanting to score, and he does his thing.”
Right winger Kris Versteeg also scored for Chicago, who benefited from 34 saves by goaltender Corey Crawford in handing Minnesota its only home playoff loss of the season.
Rookie left winger Eric Haula scored the Wild’s only goal and Bryzgalov made 25 saves as Minnesota finished the playoffs 5-1 on home ice.
“It hurts to lose, and we really believe that we were capable of doing more than just winning this game tonight, so, yeah,” a subdued Wild coach Mike Yeo said.
“Our guys did everything that we asked and they laid it on the line, and that’s what hurts. That’s what’s hard.”
Chicago, winners over the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference finals last season en route to a fifth Stanley Cup triumph, will face either a repeat series against the Kings or the Anaheim Ducks in the next round.
(Editing by John O’Brien)