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Corey Crawford shuts down Wild 1-0 as Blackhawks take 3-0 series lead

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Corey Crawford not only ended the Blackhawks' Game 3 curse, the goaltender put the State of Hockey in a state of despair in the process.

Crawford made 30 saves, many of them brilliant, and Patrick Kane scored a power-play goal in the first period to lift the Hawks to a 1-0 victory over the Wild in Game 3 of their second-round playoff series Tuesday night at the Xcel Energy Center.

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The Hawks took a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series and will go for the sweep here Thursday night. The Hawks snapped a seven-game losing streak in Game 3s on the road and improved to 2-9 in such situations under coach Joel Quenneville.

It wasn't easy.

From the opening puck drop, the Wild played with the desperation of a team that had lost the first two games, but Crawford turned aside everything sent his way to outduel Devan Dubnyk (21 saves).

"We kept them out of the slot for the most part, especially the third period. Our guys played hard in our zone and got a lot of pucks out at the blue line," said Crawford, who recorded his fourth career playoff shutout.

"Where it could have been dangerous plays, we got pucks out."

Helping Crawford was a tenacious penalty kill that shut down the Wild's power play three times, including a huge kill midway through the third. That was part of an overall strong defensive effort by the Hawks, who hold a 3-0 lead in a series for the first time since they swept the Sharks in the 2010 Western Conference finals.

Crawford was a brick wall throughout, starting with a big left-pad save on a Matt Cooke attempt in the opening minutes. He continued a string of thievery by denying Mikael Granlund on a breakaway late in the second.

In the third, the veteran hung on as the Wild attacked in waves.

In the end, it was Crawford who was the difference in Game 3 as he continued his stellar play in the series, having now stopped 90 of 94 shots.

"Crawford, he's a star against us," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "He's (Martin) Brodeur; he's (Patrick) Roy. He's everybody against (us), so we have to find a way to solve that."

The Wild also might want to find a solution to slow down Kane, who extended his goal-scoring streak to four games at the 14-minute, 6-second mark in the first.

The goal helped drain the energy from the enthusiastic crowd that prides itself on cheering in the so-called State of Hockey.

The winger carried the puck deep into the Wild zone and ripped a shot from a sharp angle that found its way through Dubnyk's pads.

With at least one point in six consecutive games, Kane has 102 points in 102 career postseason games and has as many goals in the series as the entire Wild team.

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"We were expecting a game like this, 2-1 or 1-0 when you're going to have to win a game like that," Kane said. "The first two games we opened it up a little bit after we got the lead. (Tuesday night) we just kind of shut it down defensively."

Dubnyk was also strong and got help from the crossbar early in the third when Brad Richards wired a shot off the iron.

History is on the Hawks' side: Only four teams in NHL history have come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series. They are 10-0 all time when leading a best-of-seven series 3-0.

"It's nice, but we can't get complacent or let up," Crawford said. "That team is going to play even harder next game. We have to do the same thing."

Added defenseman Duncan Keith: "We know they're going to come hard. They have nothing to lose now. It's up to us now to do a job. You have to win one game and … we're an experienced group.

"We just try to approach it by a simple, smart game, patient, the way we've tried to play it."

Twitter @ChrisKuc

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