Blackhawks sweep Wild, head to third straight conference final

St. Paul, MN ( - Marian Hossa's empty-net shorthanded goal wound up being the game-winner as the Chicago Blackhawks were able to survive a crazy finish and polish off a four-game sweep of the Minnesota Wild with a 4-3 win in this Western Conference semifinal series.

Patrick Kane notched a goal and an assist, while Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw also lit the lamp for the Blackhawks, who punched their ticket to the conference finals for a third straight postseason. Corey Crawford turned away 34 shots in the victory.

Chicago, which lost to eventual champion Los Angeles in seven games last spring, awaits the winner of the Anaheim/Calgary series.

"It's a tough team to play against. They are one of those teams you have to be pretty patient with," Kane said. "It helps when you get leads and I thought that was the biggest thing in this series."

Nino Niederreiter, Jason Pominville and Erik Haula scored and Devan Dubnyk allowed three goals on 24 shots for the Wild, who were eliminated from the postseason for a third straight season by Chicago.

"This was a special group," Dubnyk said. This is one of the best groups I have ever played with."

Minnesota was awarded a power play with 3:58 to play after Bryan Bickell was called for boarding, and the team pulled Dubnyk for a 6-on-4.

Shortly after a Zach Parise chance went off the right post, Hossa cleared the puck out of his zone and down the middle where it went into the net for a 4-1 lead with just 3:07 to play.

Still on the power play, Minnesota got Dubnyk out of the net again and was able to get one back as Jared Spurgeon blasted a shot from the high slot that hit off Pominville and went in with 2:18 to play.

Just 51 seconds later, the Wild cut their deficit to one after a Matt Dumba shot from the high slot missed the net and Niederreiter was able to bank it in off Crawford.

A bit later, Jonathan Toews missed an empty net and the Blackhawks were called for too many men on the ice with 14.8 seconds to play, but the Wild were unable to get any solid chances before the horn sounded and their season was brought to an end.

The first good chance of the game went to Minnesota around four minutes in as Mikko Koivu blasted a shot from the right circle that Crawford stopped. The rebound was kicked out to the left side and Ryan Suter had a chance, but the puck popped over his stick.

Chicago was able to take a 1-0 lead with 9:37 to play in the opening frame. Seabrook took a pass in the neutral zone and skated down the right wing, snapping a shot from the circle that hit off the leg of Marco Scandella and went over the glove of Dubnyk.

Crawford posted eight saves through the first 20 minutes to keep the Wild off the board.

Minnesota was awarded a power play just 18 seconds into the second period when Toews was called for hooking, but the team was unable to get any past Crawford.

Shortly after that penalty expired, Chicago got a power play of its own as Niederreiter was called for hooking and the team was able to take advantage when Shaw jammed the puck between the pads of Dubnyk for a 2-0 lead.

Crawford kept the Wild off the board with around 13 1/2 minutes left as Thomas Vanek came in on a short break after Michal Rozsival fell. Vanek switched to the backhand, but Crawford turned the disc aside.

Following a stop seconds later, the Wild did get on the board as a right circle faceoff win saw Dumba throw a shot on net from the point and Haula snap it in for his first of the playoffs to make it a 2-1 game.

Minnesota threw a total of 18 shots on net in the second, but Crawford was able to keep the Wild from getting any more in as the Blackhawks took a one- goal lead into the third.

Game Notes

Kane had a goal in each game of the series ... Chicago's last sweep was of the San Jose Sharks in the 2010 Western Conference finals ...Minnesota was last swept back in 2003 in the Western Conference finals by Anaheim ... Chicago beat Minnesota in the opening round in 2013, and won in six games in the semifinals last spring ... Toews, Bickell and Dumba each posted two assists ... Rozsival left the game with a left leg injury on the play that resulted in Vanek's breakaway in the second period. The team later said that he would not return to the game, and head coach Joel Quenneville said about his status, "doesn't look good."