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Blackhawks win to sweep Wild

Blackhawks win to sweep Wild
Brad Richards (91) and Bryan Bickell (29) of the Blackhawks celebrate a goal as Ryan Suter (20) and Devyn Dubynk (40) of the Wild look on during the third period in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals. (Hannah Foslien / Getty Images)
Corey Crawford

made 34 saves,

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Patrick Kane

had a goal and an assist, and the

Chicago Blackhawks

advanced to the

Western Conference

finals with a 4-3 victory over the

Minnesota Wild

on Thursday night at St. Paul, Minn., for a four-game sweep.

The Wild never led in the series. Goals by

Jared Spurgeon

and

Nino Niederreiter

with 2:18 and 1:27 remaining gave them one last shot, with their net emptied. The final few whacks were either wide or turned aside by Crawford, who stopped 124 of 131 shots in the four games.

Brent Seabrook

and

Andrew Shaw

scored for the Blackhawks, who were down to five defensemen after a serious injury to veteran Michal Roszival. Marian Hossa had a long empty-netter, and Jonathan Toews and

Bryan Bickell

had two assists apiece.

Chicago eliminated Minnesota from the playoffs for the third straight year. It won 12 of the 15 games.

It was the first sweep by the Blackhawks since the Western Conference finals in 2010 against San Jose.

They improved to 30-0, including 5-0 in this postseason, when leading after two periods.

Devan Dubnyk

made 21 saves for the Wild.

The Blackhawks have scored 12 times in the first period in 10 games this postseason, the key to keeping a firm grip on this series from start to finish.

Montreal 6, at Tampa Bay 2: Carey Price stopped 22 shots, Max Pacioretty had a short-handed goal and two assists as the Canadiens stayed alive in their second-round playoff series.

Pacioretty and Andrei Markov scored in the first as the Canadiens avoided a sweep with their first victory in nine games this season against the Lightning. Game 5 is Saturday night in Montreal, where Tampa Bay won the first two games of the series.

Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop allowed three goals on 14 shots before he was pulled a little over five minutes into the second period. Bishop had 30 saves in Tampa Bay's dramatic 2-1 victory on Wednesday night.

After Bishop was pulled, the Canadiens scored twice in their first three shots against backup Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Price, a leading contender for NHL most valuable player, limited the high-scoring Lightning to power-play goals by Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat. By the time Kucherov scored at 12:26 of the second, the Canadiens had built a 5-0 lead.

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