Chicago leads series 1-0.
The top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks got the result they wanted to open their Western Conference first-round series against the eighth-seeded Minnesota Wild, but the game was full of surprises. Chicago will try for a more conventional victory when it hosts the Wild for Game 2 on Friday. Bryan Bickell scored the overtime winner in Game 1 on Tuesday, beating surprise Minnesota starter Josh Harding with a backhand move. Harding replaced Niklas Backstrom after the veteran netminder suffered a lower-body injury during warm-up and finished with 35 saves in his first start since Jan. 30.
Making their first playoff appearance since 2008, the Wild kept pace with a more experienced Chicago team looking to fulfill the promise of its first Presidents’ Trophy since 1991 with its second Stanley Cup in four seasons. Minnesota held a lead for 17:42 in Game 1 after Cal Clutterbuck opened the scoring 4:48 into the contest. Aside from three shootout victories, Minnesota has not defeated the Blackhawks in 10 contests. The last time the Wild won in regulation at Chicago was Jan. 25, 2011. The Blackhawks slowly solved Minnesota’s stifling defense on Tuesday, recording more shots in each period - six in the first, 10 in the second and 12 in the third - and firing nine on Harding in 16:35 of overtime.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS2, NBCSN, Fox Sports North, Comcast Sportsnet Chicago
ABOUT THE WILD: Defenseman Ryan Suter played a major role in shutting down Chicago’s potent offense, leading all skaters with 41:08 time on ice on Tuesday. Suter finished with four blocked shots and disrupted many Blackhawks scoring chances, but failed to register a shot on goal. Defenseman Jared Spurgeon blocked a team-high seven shots. Backstrom is considered day-to-day but was not at practice on Thursday, meaning Harding will likely start Game 2. Trade-deadline acquisition Jason Pominville has missed three games with a concussion and will not play on Friday. Minnesota needs Pominville to return soon - possibly for Game 3 at home on Sunday - as it is already short-handed on the right side with Dany Heatley likely sidelined for the duration of the playoffs following shoulder surgery.
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS: Dave Bolland and goaltender Ray Emery both missed Game 1 with lower-body injuries and although Emery worked out before the team’s practice on Thursday, coach Joel Quenneville ruled them out for Friday’s contest. Bolland has missed four games, while Emery has missed three, leaving Corey Crawford to resume his role as the team’s undisputed starter. Crawford made 26 saves on Tuesday and looked solid after allowing a soft goal to Clutterbuck early. Marian Hossa looked comfortable in his return to postseason action after a hit by Raffi Torres knocked him out of last year’s first-round series against the Phoenix Coyotes. Hossa scored a power-play goal in regulation and nearly ended the game in overtime when his backhand shot towards an open net was deflected wide by Suter’s stick.
* Wild are 11-30 in their last 41 against a team with a winning record.
* Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Home team is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Under is 5-0-1 in Blackhawks' last six.
1. Bolland, who has 37 points in 49 career playoff contests, was instrumental in Chicago’s 2010 Stanley Cup championship, finishing with eight goals and 16 points.
2. Minnesota allowed more goals during the regular season - 127 - than any other playoff team in the conference.
3. The Presidents’ Trophy winner lost its first-round series in three of the last four seasons.
San Jose Sharks vs. Vancouver Canucks (-139, 5)
San Jose leads series 1-0.
After becoming the first road team to post a victory this postseason, the sixth-seeded San Jose Sharks look to take control of their Western Conference first-round series against the third-seeded Vancouver Canucks when they visit the Northwest Division champions for Game 2 on Friday. San Jose fell behind before scoring three unanswered goals en route to a 3-1 triumph in the series opener on Wednesday. Defenseman Dan Boyle snapped a tie at 9:17 of the third period and Logan Couture recorded a goal and an assist for the Sharks, who lost right wing Martin Havlat to an undisclosed injury in the first period.
Roberto Luongo got the start in place of the injured Cory Schneider and played well, especially in the first period as Vancouver was outshot 15-9. Luongo will start Game 2 for Vancouver. He was given a 1-0 lead when defenseman Kevin Bieksa scored at 12:26 of the second, but Couture cashed in during a power play 4:09 later. It was the fourth straight loss against San Jose for the Canucks, who went 0-2-1 over their three-game series during the regular season.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, CNBC, CSN California (San Jose)
ABOUT THE SHARKS: San Jose had three players record multi-point performances. In addition to Couture, Boyle added an assist while Joe Pavelski helped set up a pair of goals. Patrick Marleau scored his 53rd career postseason tally in his 130th playoff game. Marleau is the second-leading active playoff goal scorer, trailing only Boston's Jaromir Jagr (78). Wednesday's victory was impressive considering San Jose went just 8-14-2 on the road during the regular season and lost three of its final four away from home. "The road hasn't been too friendly to us all year," Boyle said. "We played a very good road game. We weren't too cute, we weren't too fancy. We did what we had to do."
ABOUT THE CANUCKS: Schneider, who is out with an undisclosed injury, also missed the final two regular-season contests with the mysterious ailment. Joe Cannata dressed as Luongo's backup. The 23-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game. Frank Corrado made his playoff debut after skating in Vancouver's final three regular-season matches. Luongo made a number of big saves in the first period, including seven during a San Jose power play. "It gave me a good rhythm for the rest of the game," Luongo said. "But obviously, when you end up losing, you always want to find a way to do more."
TRENDS* Sharks are 8-1 in their last nine against a team with a winning record.
* Canucks are 8-2 in their last 10 home games.
* Sharks are 4-0 in the last four games against Canucks.
* Under is 9-1-1 in Canucks' last 11 home games.
* Under is 5-0-2 in Sharks' last seven road games.
1. The Sharks are 9-5 in series in which they have won the first game.
2. Vancouver has lost five consecutive home playoff contests dating to Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals.
3. Pavelski's multi-point performance was the eighth of his postseason career, while Boyle's was his 14th.