Winning at the United Center becomes increasingly difficult come playoff time for any club save for the Chicago Blackhawks, the building’s tenants who have beaten visitors 23 of the last 27 times in the postseason.
That dominating stretch began two years ago against the Minnesota Wild, who have been victims seven times after their comeback bid fell short in Game 1.
The Blackhawks have eliminated the Wild in each of the last two postseasons, and they can put Minnesota in an 0-2 hole with another victory Sunday before the series moves to St. Paul.
Chicago jumped ahead 3-0 on Friday and allowed the next three goals before rookie Teuvo Teravainen scored with 58.2 seconds left in the second period of the Blackhawks’ 4-3 victory.
Brandon Saad, Patrick Kane and Marcus Kruger scored in the first period before Jason Zucker, Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund answered to start the second. Teravainen’s goal improved the Blackhawks to 9-3 overall against Minnesota in the postseason.
The Wild have been outscored 27-11 during the playoffs at the United Center.
”It (stinks), but you gotta put it behind you,” Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter said. ”If you win the game, you gotta forget about it. We lost the game, we gotta forget about it, too. So just prepare for the next game on Sunday and be better.”
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville expected nothing less from the Wild after his club took a big lead. The Blackhawks have scored three goals in a period four times during these playoffs, but they’ve allowed at least three in a period five times.
"No lead is safe in the playoffs," Quenneville said. "We know they’re a dangerous team and we expect every shift to be important."
Corey Crawford has been in net for four of those three-or-more-goal outbursts, but Quenneville said he gave no consideration to switching to Scott Darling, who posted a .950 save percentage in four games against Nashville before losing the net to Crawford by allowing three goals in the first period of the clinching Game 6.
Quenneville has taken some heat for his lineup decisions this postseason, most notably scratching Antoine Vermette for the first two games of the Nashville series.
Teravainen played the first two against the Predators and had a key assist in Game 1 that sparked the Blackhawks’ comeback before being scratched for the last four. He took Kris Versteeg’s spot Thursday and made the most of his opportunity, firing a shot from the boards past Devan Dubnyk to put Chicago ahead for good.
Quenneville said Versteeg has a non-serious lower-body injury, leaving it unclear who will dress for Game 2.
”I think he’s getting better, stronger,” Marian Hossa said of the 20-year-old rookie. ”I know he didn’t play lots in the last (series), but when he’s there, he sees the ice really well. He’s really skilled, he’s learning.”
Dubnyk, who led Minnesota’s charge into the postseason and is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, wasn’t at his best in Game 1 after back-to-back 4-1 wins over St. Louis. He stopped 56 of 57 shots while beating Chicago twice during the regular season, including once at the United Center.
Coach Mike Yeo stuck with Dubnyk after a rough first period, and the Wild got back into the game. Another slow start could end up costly, though, as the Blackhawks look to take a 2-0 lead against Minnesota for the third straight year.
"You want to take all the good things with you and move on and learn from the things we need to do better and start preparing for Game 2," captain Mikko Koivu said. "It’s a good thing we were able to come back, but at the same time you don’t want to fall behind three goals."