Blackhawks have come out hitting in playoffs
Andrew Shaw’s big hit on Torrey Mitchell that ignited the winning rally in Game 1 of the Blackhawks’ Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Minnesota Wild wasn’t by chance.
The Hawks outhit the Wild 40-36 on Tuesday night — an expected uptick from the regular season, and a significant improvement in physical play from last year’s opening-round loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Hawks were outhit 247-181 against the Coyotes. They won statistical physical battle only in Game 4 — 41-39 — the game after Raffi Torres knocked Marian Hossa out of the series with a concussion.
Shaw led the Hawks with seven hits. Defenseman Michal Rozsival had six.
‘‘It’s playoff hockey — obviously a lot more physical and intense,’’ Shaw said.
The legend of Johnny Oduya’s ‘‘pass off the glass’’ over the outstretched arm of Wild defenseman Ryan Suter and right to a Viktor Stalberg to set up a 2-on-1 for the winning goal is growing by the hour.
‘‘That might be one of the best indirect passes you’ll ever see,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said ‘‘To get that much air on it to draw the defenseman and just over his head and Viktor picking up in full flight ... I”m giving him credit thinking that he saw it exactly how the play unfolded.
The Blackhawks didn’t want to turn Wild goaltender Josh Harding into Ken Dryden — or even Sergei Bobrovsky — overnight. But they have a healthy respect for the backup who is suffering from multiple sclerosis and was outstanding on short notice in Game 1.
‘‘It’s nothing short of amazing,’’ Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said, admiring Harding’s attitude that he did not want any sympathy.
Center Dave Bolland (groin) and goalie Ray Emery (lower body) are unlikely to be available in Game 2 on Friday night, coach Joel Quenneville said.
◆ For the Wild, goaltender Niklas Backstrom and forward Jason Pominville (concussion) are day-to-day and uncertain for Game 2. They recalled goalie Darcy Kuemper from the AHL.
◆ The NHL confirmed that the Hawks will host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field on March 1 next season, at 7 p.m., as part of the “NHL Stadium Series.”
Contributing: Mark Lazerus