Patrick Kane has been playing like he never left. Corey Crawford has resolutely rebounded from being benched.
The Chicago Blackhawks have only begun to rev up their game, and the Minnesota Wild has lost its touch at the wrong time.
Kane scored on a power play in the first period, and Crawford and the Blackhawks made the superstar's goal stand up for a 1-0 win over the Wild on Tuesday to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
"Obviously we'd be very happy if you told us we'd be in this position before the series," said Kane, who has six goals and five assists in nine playoff games to bounce back from the broken collarbone that kept him of the last quarter of the regular season. "We have to keep it going. We know the hardest game is the one to close it out."
Game 4 is in Minnesota on Thursday.
"Two things: character and belief," Wild Coach Mike Yeo said. "There will be no feeling sorry for ourselves. Obviously we're disappointed to be in this spot, but we've got to find a way."
Crawford made 30 saves, giving him 90 on 94 shots in the three games.
"As much confidence as he has, we have in him," Kane said.
Stifled time after time on chance after chance in its return home, the Wild has scored just once over its last 150-plus minutes on the ice. The Wild was at a loss, trying to explain how to crack the wall that Crawford has become.
"Shoot where he isn't, and maybe they'll go in," said left wing Zach Parise.