MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUND-UP: Wild lose Game 1 of conference semis to Blackhawks
CHICAGO (SportsNetwork.com) - Patrick Kane kicked his quest for a second straight Conn Smythe Trophy into high gear on Friday. Kane scored the first two of Chicago's three unanswered goals in the third period, as the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks downed the Minnesota Wild, 5-2, in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series at United Center.
Chicago carried a 2-0 lead into the third, but Clayton Stoner and Kyle Brodziak scored under five minutes apart early in the frame to even the score. Kane took over from there, netting the game-winner with a wicked backhander at 8:22 before potting his fifth of the playoffs later in the frame to give the Blackhawks a two-goal cushion. Bryan Bickell, who opened the scoring with a power-play goal in the first, added an empty-netter to help Chicago draw first blood in this best-of-seven series.
Corey Crawford registered 30 saves for the Blackhawks, who bounced the Wild from the playoffs in the first round of the playoffs last year. Ilya Bryzgalov got the start in net for the Wild in place of an injured Darcy Kuemper, who was forced to exit Minnesota's Game 7 victory over Colorado after sustaining an undisclosed injury late in the contest. Bryzgalov stopped the only shot he faced in relief against the Avalanche, but turned aside just 17- of-21 shots in Friday's setback.
Game 2 of this series is slated for Sunday in Chicago.
Ubaldo Jimenez struck out 10 over 7 1/3 scoreless innings to guide the Baltimore Orioles to a 3-0 win over the Minnesota Twins on Friday in the opener of a three-game set from Target Field. Jimenez (1-4) surrendered just three hits and a walk to earn his first win of the season. Zach Britton finished the eighth inning and Tommy Hunter pitched a scoreless ninth for his eighth save of the season. Nelson Cruz had a two-run homer for Baltimore, winners in three straight. Cruz finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored while Matt Wieters drove in a run and had his sixth two-hit game in his last seven starts. Ricky Nolasco (2-3) was the hard-luck loser, tossing a complete game in the setback. Nolasco was touched for three runs on nine hits while striking out six. The loss was the fourth in a row for the Twins.