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Kane's late goals lift Hawks

The Blackhawks' Patrick Kane celebrates after scoring a goal against the Minnesota Wild during the third period  in Game 1 of a second-round playoff series at the United Center. The Blackhawks won, 5-2. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
The Blackhawks' Patrick Kane celebrates after scoring a goal against the Minnesota Wild during the third period in Game 1 of a second-round playoff series at the United Center. The Blackhawks won, 5-2. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

CHICAGO – When the Blackhawks needed a lift most Friday night, Patrick Kane provided one.

Backhand style.

Then he did it again. Just for good measure.

Kane skillfully flicked the puck into the air and past Minnesota Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov at the 11:38 mark of the third period, sparking the first of three straight Hawks goals in a 5-2 win over the Wild in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals at the United Center.

His response following the goal? "Showtime."

"Sometimes, I don't know what I'm saying," said Kane, who said he has worked on that particular backhanded shot since he was 7 years old. "I was pretty pumped up after that one. You kind of get in your own little world."

Showtime in prime time.

Kane's game-winner awakened the Hawks, who watched what appeared to be a comfortable 2-0 lead slip away in a matter of minutes earlier in the third period. Minnesota's Clayton Stoner was credited for a goal on a shot that slipped under Hawks goalie Corey Crawford and then nicked Johnny Oduya's skate.

Just more than four minutes later, Kyle Brodziak evened the game, quieting the United Center crowd of 22,116.

But just temporarily.

Kane's goal brought the sold-out crowd back to life, giving the Hawks the lead back for good. It only got bigger from there.

Kane then notched his second goal of the night on a wrist shot before Bryan Bickell – who gave the Hawks an early 1-0 lead off a deflection, pushed the lead to 5-2, firing a shot into an empty net with 2:41 remaining.

It was more than enough for Crawford, who was constantly praised for his performance by fans, who chanted, "Co-rey, Co-rey" throughout the night.

Asked afterward if he hears the chants, Crawford said he does. Asked if he approves, Crawford smiled.

"It's way better than [them] booing me if that's what you're saying," Crawford said.

Crawford finished the win with 30 saves, again getting assistance from the Hawks penalty killers, who were again perfect after playing a key role in the Hawks' first-round series win over St. Louis, when the unit allowed only two goals on 29 chances.

Crawford again played a starring role in the second period, when the Wild had one opportunity after another. But Minnesota missed the net on the majority of its shots and had another three shots blocked.

On Friday night, the Hawks' power play got into the act.

Both of the Hawks first two goals came with them holding a one-man advantage. Bickell deflected a Brent Seabrook shot to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead. In the second period, the Hawks power play struck again, resulting in a Marian Hossa goal.

The Hawks grabbed the series lead, but the news wasn't all good. The Hawks lost center Andrew Shaw midway through the first period after he was checked into the boards. Shaw got up slowly after taking a hit to his lower body – one that caused him to limp away from the boards once he reached his feet.

Shaw later was taken to the locker room and did not return. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said after the win that Shaw is day-to-day and that the club would know more Saturday.

The series continues Sunday afternoon at the United Center before it shifts to Minnesota for Games 3 and 4 next week. After falling behind to the Blues 2-0 in the first round of the playoffs, the Hawks hope to build off of Friday's Game 1 and build some momentum before hitting the road, now having won five straight games.

But another effort like Friday's Kane admitted, may not be enough.

"We have to better in Game 2," he said. They’re a good team, you have to give them credit."

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