There is no question that the underdog Minnesota Wild fought back hard from an 0-2 deficit to tie their Western Conference semi-final series with the Chicago Blackhawks.
In doing so they earned themselves a playoff road game in an Illinois arena with a crowd that was, expectedly and understandably, unreceptive toward them.
It was all too much to overcome.
At 16:33 of an otherwise nondescript 1st period, Wild center Erik Haula netted his 3rd goal of the postseason when he backhanded the rebound of his own initial shot past the stick of Blackhawks’ defenseman Brent Seabrook, goalie Corey Crawford and into the net.
Bryan Bickell then tied the contest for the homestanding Blackhawks by deflecting in a Patrick Kane wrister at 9:18 of the middle period.
Jonathan Toews then put home the game-winner at 4:33 of the 3rd.
The Chicago Blackhawks are the defending Stanley Cup Champions, and are on a mission to keep that cherished chalice right where it is in 2014. To do so, they must ascend the ladder up and over those teams that are placed before them. And in front of them at the moment are the Minnesota Wild.
And while the Wild are doing their very best to deny them their goal, the highly talented Blackhawks are showing it’s going to take any team’s very best effort to keep them from achieving it.
With this win tonight, Chicago has given themselves the opportunity to get halfway home to their ultimate objective with a win Tuesday night at XCel Energy Center in St. Paul. If they can’t, they’ll have another chance in a Game 7 back in the friendly confines of the Windy City.
For hockey fans in general however, regardless of the end result, it would be hard for anyone to deny that this has turned into one heck of a series.