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Blackhawks 4, Wild 1


Blackhawks 4, Wild 1: Brandon Saad scored twice and Bryan Bickell collected a goal and two assists as host Chicago seized a 2-0 advantage in its Western Conference second-round series.

Captain Jonathan Toews also tallied, Marian Hossa notched three assists and Corey Crawford finished with 18 saves as the defending Stanley Cup-champion Blackhawks won their sixth consecutive contest. Chicago, which travels to Minnesota for Game 3 on Tuesday, posted a 1-2-0 mark on the road versus the Wild this season - claiming a 5-1 win on Oct. 28 before suffering a pair of one-goal setbacks on Dec. 5 and Jan. 23, respectively.

Cody McCormick scored two minutes into the third period for Minnesota, which also lost the first two contests against Central Division-champion Colorado before coming back to take the series in seven games.

The Blackhawks drew first blood 11:02 into the first period after Hossa reeled in Bickell's stretch pass. The veteran was denied by the extended right pad of Ilya Bryzgalov (18 saves), but Toews gained a step on Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu before burying the loose puck into the net. Saad doubled the advantage with 56 seconds remaining in the middle session after skating into the slot and wristing a shot that deflected off the stick of Zach Parise before sailing under the crossbar.

Minnesota trimmed the deficit early in the third period as rookie Erik Haula used his speed to gain the offensive zone before wiring a cross-ice pass to Clayton Stoner. The defenseman deftly slid the puck to for McCormick, who beat Crawford from the slot for his first goal of the postseason. Bickell composed himself after hitting the crossbar by converting a 2-on-1 rush with 2:45 to play and Saad added an empty-net goal to seal the win.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Chicago's Joel Quenneville collected his 800th career coaching victory - combining both the regular season and playoffs. ... With five postseason goals, Bickell is tied with teammate Patrick Kane, Colorado's Paul Stastny and Los Angeles' Marian Gaborik for the NHL lead. Bickell recorded just 11 goals in 59 games during the regular season. ... Saad's initial tally was his first since March 12 versus the Avalanche, snapping a 19-game goal drought. ... Bryzgalov has lost all four of his starts in this postseason and yielded three of more goals in 19 of his last 20 playoff starts. ... Chicago C Andrew Shaw sat out with a lower-body injury suffered on a hit by Stoner in Game 1.