Michael Frolik has earned the reputation from his fellow Chicago Blackhawks as being one of the hardest working players on the team. He’s been rewarded with more penalty work because of it.
On Friday, he was rewarded with goals.
Frolik scored his first two goals of this postseason, including a short-handed tally and Patrick Sharp added two of his own as the Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild, 5-2 in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals. The Blackhawks take a 2-0 edge in the best-of-seven series, which shifts to Minnesota for Game 3 Sunday afternoon and Game 4 Tuesday night.
For Frolik, the regular seasons have been a goal-scoring bane. Playoffs, however, are another story. Frolik now has six goals in 13 career playoff games and his two tonight got the Blackhawks off to the start they desired.
“It’s hard to say; I don’t know what it is. But I’ll be happy to have that in the regular season, too,” Frolik said of his postseason prowess. “It’s just about not thinking about it. I got a few lucky bounces tonight.”
Teammates say otherwise.
“It’s a credit to him for working that hard and getting his goal-scoring knack back,” said Patrick Kane, who had two assists, including a deft pass to set up Sharp’s second goal. “It does a lot of things that maybe get overlooked but he’s a big part of the lineup for sure.”
For Sharp, Game 2 was a bit cathartic. The winger spent about a half hour after practice on Thursday shooting a bucket of pucks. He hit pay dirt in Friday's tilt.
“I haven’t played a whole lot of hockey [this season],” Sharp said. “Throw in a lockout and some injuries and any time I can get on the ice and practice the little things, sometimes they pay off.”
The Blackhawks wanted a better, stronger, faster start in Game 2 than they had in Game 1 and they got that. They also wanted to get to Wild goaltender Josh Harding, and they were relentless there in throwing 47 shots on him.
“Our first was much better, more effective than in the prior game,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Our second period wasn’t as effective. They had some good chances off the rush and we started making some fancier plays than we would’ve liked to. The simpler we make it, the more effective we are.”
The Blackhawks simply took advantage of their entire arsenal in Game 2. Kane was stellar. The third and fourth lines were noticeable. The top line was oh-so close to several scoring chances.
“It was overall a pretty good game today and way better than Game 1,” Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “The last game we played at their pace and they got us exactly where they wanted us. Today we kept pushing it, and that’s what made the difference I think.”
Harding deserves credit for another great performance, considering the 47 shots he had to face. Wild coach Mike Yeo said Harding was “fantastic. We just left him out to dry tonight.”
Meanwhile, Corey Crawford continued his solid outings. He stopped 26 of 28 shots, including a Zach Parise barrage on a second-period Minnesota power play.
“It happened so quick, I was just trying to cover the bottom of the net to make sure nothing went under me,” Crawford said. “We stepped up our game more today. Our passing was good and our skating was hard. We directed a lot of shots on net. It was nice to get up by a couple of goals there.”
The Blackhawks are now up in this series 2-0 thanks to gutting out their first contest and then playing their game in the second one. Now they want to try and put a clamp down on the Wild in their house.
“We’ll try to go to Minny and get ready for Game 3, try to put them in a tough position and win that one,” Kane said. “If we play with a lot of pace, with puck movement and shots to the net, we should be in good shape.”