After leaving Chicago down 0-2, Minnesota skated in their first home game of the playoffs Sunday. The Wild outshot the Blackhawks 15-9 in the first period. Jonny Oduya scored first for the Blackhawks. The Wild answered a few minutes later when Pierre-Marc Bouchard netted the tying goal. The second period was a lot of the same, Minnesota kept up the pressure on Chicago in the second outshooting the Hawks 14-8, but neither team was able to score. Zach Parise scored his first of the playoffs to brake the tie and give Minnesota the lead early in the third period, but Chicago’s late pressure was too much and Duncan Keith scored with 2:46 left in regulation. On to overtime we went, 2:15 in Jason Zucker scored the game winning, overtime goal to give the Wild their first win of the playoffs. The Wild controlled the game and deserved the win, and they pulled the series to within one.
Game four kicked off Tuesday night with the series at 2-1 in favor of Chicago. Minnesota played well early. They got the physical game going, and the fore-check was working nicely. Still, the Blackhawks struck first when Patrick Sharp deflected a shot from Michal Handzus into the net to give Chicago a one goal lead. With four minutes remaining in the first period, Jonathan Toews collided with Josh Harding. The medical team came out to take a look at him, but Harding finished the rest of the period. Darcy Kuemper came out of the dressing room to start for the Wild in the second. Unfortunately for Kuemper, Patrick Sharp scored on the first Chicago shot of the period, netting his second of the night on a shot from the left wing. Chicago killed off back to back penalties early in the third period, to keep their 100% penalty kill in the playoffs. The Wild didn’t get many shots on Corey Crawford until the two powerplays, the Hawks were clogging the shooting lanes well. But when the Wild did get scoring chances Crawford shut them down. Brian Bickell scored his third of the series to give the Hawks the 3-0 lead. The Blackhawks defense proved too much for the Wild, who were unable to get enough quality chances to put one passed Crawford. The Hawks finished out the game and Corey Crawford stopped all 25 of the Wild’s shots.
Minnesota’s powerplay still has not scored for them in the playoffs, and if they hope to overcome this 1-3 deficit they need to start scoring on the powerplay. If Harding is unable to play for the Wild going forward, Darcy Kuemper is going to have to come up big. The Chicago defense hasn’t allowed Minnesota to get much going yet in the series so, whether it’s Kuemper, or Harding, they’re going to have to win these games for the Wild. Now it’s back to Chicago where the Hawks will have a chance to send the Wild home, and clinch their ticket to the Conference Semi-Finals.
Topics: 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, Chicago Blackhawks, Corey Crawford, Darcy Kuemper, Duncan Keith, Game Four, Game Three, Jason Zucker, Jonathan Toews, Josh Harding, Michal Handzus, Minnesota Wild, Patrick Shar, Pierre-marc Bouchard, Zach Parise