Bryan Bickell had an open look on a break in the third period, and shot the puck off the crossbar. He then tried the other side of the ice, and that worked out quite well for him and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Bickell had a goal and two assists, and the Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1 on Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
Brandon Saad scored his first two goals of the postseason, and Chicago earned its sixth consecutive win despite stretches of lackluster play in the second and third periods. Corey Crawford made 18 saves in another solid performance.
"There were bits of that third where it wasn't looking good, but we just stuck with it," Bickell said. "Leave it to our D and Crawford to keep the puck out of the net."
Cody McCormick scored his second career playoff goal, but Minnesota missed another chance to steal home-ice advantage from the defending Stanley Cup champions.
"We weren't that far off," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "Even though, again, I know we can play better. We weren't that far off. That game was hanging for us."
Game 3 is Tuesday night in Minnesota.
Clayton Stoner and Erik Haula made nice passes to set up McCormick's first playoff goal in three years, two minutes into the third, trimming Chicago's lead to 2-1. Crawford then batted a potential tying shot from Charlie Coyle over the crossbar.
The Blackhawks eventually regained their composure and turned up the pressure again. Coming down the right side, Bickell shot the puck off the crossbar on a break with 4:39 to go.
Given a second chance, the physical forward delivered. Bickell skated up the left side, got a pass from Marian Hossa and buried his shot into the upper right corner to extend Chicago's lead to 3-1 at 17:15.
It was Bickell's fifth goal of the playoffs. He also has three assists after he had nine goals and eight assists in last year's playoffs.
"It's that time of year. I enjoy it," said Bickell, who had just 15 points during a disappointing regular season. "This is a crucial time for this team. We need for me and this team to step up."
Penguins 3, Rangers 0: Kris Letang broke a scoreless tie in the second period and Marc-Andre Fleury made 22 saves for his seventh playoff shutout to lift Pittsburgh over New York, tying the second-round series at one game apiece.
Letang's 15th career postseason goal matched Larry Murphy's record for Penguins defensemen. Jussi Jokinen scored during a third-period power play, and Evgeni Malkin added an empty-net goal for the Penguins, who managed a home split in the first two games with the suddenly weary Rangers.
"I thought to a man our players were extremely good all night," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "It was a huge win for us."
Game 3 is Monday in New York.
Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves for New York, but the Rangers mustered little offense while playing their fourth game in six days. Not that coach Alain Vigneault wanted to blame fatigue for a listless performance.
"Did my goaltender look tired? He was on top of his game," Vigneault said. "If he's not tired, nobody else should be."
New York's limp power play went 0 for 4 and hasn't scored in 29 straight advantages.