CHICAGO | Minnesota Wild backup goalie Josh Harding, gamely playing with multiple sclerosis, had to share the spotlight with the Blackhawks’ Michael Frolik and Patrick Sharp by the end of Friday night's game.
In a more frenetic Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals, compared to Tuesday’s opener, Harding again withstood much of the Hawks’ onslaught. Fourth-liner Frolik found a way past Harding, though, with his second two-goal night of 2012-13 in the Hawks’ 5-2 victory in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.
Not to be outdone, winger Patrick Sharp shook off the cobwebs of 19 games missed late in the season due to a shoulder injury to dent Harding for two more goals in the third period.
The Hawks are now up in the series 2-0, going to the Twin Cities for the game at 2 p.m. Sunday that will be televised nationally by NBC.
“It’s a good start,” Frolik said. “Everybody knows we still can be better. We know it’s going to be tough in Minny and we have to be ready for it.”
The Hawks came out firing on Harding, filling in for the second game in a row for injured starter Niklas Backstrom. The backup goalie eventually faced 47 shots in the game.
Harding stopped all shots in the first period but Frolik’s well-located putback of a rebound of an Andrew Shaw slapper at 8:34.
“The first one was a pretty lucky bounce,” Frolik said. “I just tried to go to the net and the puck came to me.”
Frolik did not have to wait all that long to score again, this time on a short-handed goal. Just 49 seconds into the second period, the Hawks penalty killers broke up a Wild power play resulting from captain Jonathan Toews’ high-sticking penalty. Frolik solved Harding again, the end result of Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson passes.
“Just shoot it from the rush and go to the net, have the second opportunities,” Frolik said.
Frolik had only three goals – all against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings – in the regular season. Two were in one game on March 25.
The Wild’s Devin Setoguchi cut the lead in half near the end of the second, beating Keith and goalie Corey Crawford. Marco Scandella scored late in the third, but the Hawks were not seriously threatened thanks to Sharp.
He gave Crawford a 3-1 lead early in the third with his first 2013 postseason score. He beat Harding again with just under six minutes to go. Sharp is off to a good start to approach his 2010 postseason spree of 11 goals in 22 games.
“It’s always big,” Sharp said of the Hawks defending home ice. “As a road team, you want to steal one in the other team’s building. We can be satisfied with the first two.”
Game 1 overtime winning scorer Brian Bickell netted an empty-net goal with 11 seconds to go for the final score.