Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild

CHI
2
MIN
4
FINAL
123T
CHI 1102
MIN 1214

The Wild remain undefeated on home ice in the playoffs after beating the Blackhawks and evening their series at two games apiece.

0:37 | May 10, 2014 | Chicago Blackhawks, Hockey, Minnesota Wild, NHL


Three Stars



ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) The Minnesota Wild have turned their home ice into a deafening, discouraging place for opponents to play in the playoffs.

For the second straight game, they dominated the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Jason Pominville scored in the second period off the back of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford's skate, and the Wild beat the Blackhawks 4-2 on Friday night to even their Western Conference semifinal at two games apiece.

"It's been fun to play here. I don't know what it is, but we have to find a way to bring that on the road as well," said Jared Spurgeon, whose third-period goal gave the Wild a cushion for the final stretch while the fans cheered and chanted louder and louder.

"They play hard in their building, and they're good in their building, and they check well so it's tough to get momentum in here," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Matt Cooke returned from his seven-game kneeing suspension to give the Wild a jolt, assisting on Justin Fontaine's opening goal, and Nino Niederreiter also scored.

"I think I should have fresh legs. I have to go out there and lead the way. Hopefully my energy is contagious," Cooke said.

Yes, it was. Cooke had a team-high five hits -- the Blackhawks were only credited with seven -- to help the Wild hold an intensity advantage from start to finish.

"He brings a physical presence," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. "You never know what he's going to do, so you've got to be aware of him out there."

Crawford made 27 saves, but he gave up four goals for the second straight game.

"We've just got to play the way we can: Move the puck and play with speed and skill, make the right plays at the right time," Crawford said. "Everyone's got confidence in everyone else in this room, so we've just got to play together."

Patrick Sharp snapped out of his slump with his second postseason goal and Michal Handzus also scored, but the Blackhawks again found themselves unable to establish a consistent attack against the Wild's stifling defense.

The teams will return to Chicago for Game 5 on Sunday night and be back in Minnesota for Game 6 on Tuesday night.

Quenneville shuffled up the lines, moving Ben Smith to the first group with captain Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell and bringing defenseman Nick Leddy back to the lineup in a search for more speed and flow. The Wild wouldn't let that happen.

Leading the NHL in takeaways in the playoffs and allowing an average of fewer than 21 shots on goal per game in the series, the Wild improved to 5-0 at home this postseason with a 16-5 goal differential. The franchise playoff record at Xcel Energy Center was a mere 5-10 prior to this year.

Sharp, coming off a 34-goal, 44-assist season, got his first goal of the series. But the Blackhawks managed just 20 shots on Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov after stressing the importance of testing him more.

Cooke set Fontaine up for a slap shot on a 2-on-1 rush early in the game, and the puck sailed over the glass. Fontaine buried his next chance, a bad-angle attempt from the front edge of the circle that skidded through Michal Rozsival's legs after Cooke swiped the puck from the defenseman.

After two full periods of trap-filled, tight-checking play in Game 3, the pace in this one was quick from the start. The fans resumed their sing-song jeering of Crawford's last name from the last game, and the chants grew louder throughout the night.

The buzz in the building was killed for a bit when Sharp, whose struggles prompted a move down to a new third line with Handzus and Marian Hossa, caught defenseman Clayton Stoner stuck in the offensive zone on a turnover by Niederreiter and beat Mikko Koivu to slip a wrister between Bryzgalov's pads with 38 seconds left before the break.

But the Wild roared right back in the second period with goals by Pominville and Niederreiter to bracket the score by Handzus. Bryzgalov did his part by sticking his pad out to stop Sharp's breakaway with a thud.

"That was huge for us," left wing Zach Parise said.

As was all that noise from the crowd.

NOTES: Spurgeon's goal was just the fourth in 42 opportunities against the Blackhawks in the playoffs, the best penalty-kill percentage in the league. ... The Bickell-Toews-Smith line totaled just three shots. ... Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, drafted from Louisville the night before, took in his first hockey game.

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1st Period Summary
Time Team Scoring Detail Chi Min
7:24
Justin Fontaine
Assists: Matt Cooke
0 1
19:21
Patrick Sharp
Assists: Marian Hossa, Michal Rozsival
1 1
Time Team Penalty
7:43
Jeremy Morin: 2 minutes for Slashing
13:49
Mikko Koivu: 2 minutes for Stick Holding

2nd Period Summary
Time Team Scoring Detail Chi Min
3:51
Jason Pominville
Assists: Ryan Suter, Zach Parise
1 2
6:28
Michal Handzus
Assists: Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa
2 2
7:12
Nino Niederreiter
Assists: Charlie Coyle, Jared Spurgeon
2 3
Time Team Penalty
12:02
Ben Smith: 2 minutes for Delay of Game
17:13
Brandon Bollig: 2 minutes for Boarding
17:49
Jared Spurgeon: 2 minutes for Elbowing

3rd Period Summary
Time Team Scoring Detail Chi Min
3:47
Jared Spurgeon
Assists: Mikko Koivu, Ryan Suter
2 4
Time Team Penalty
0:45
Duncan Keith: 2 minutes for Hooking
3:28
Michal Rozsival: 2 minutes for Closing Hand on Puck

Game Information
Location: Xcel Energy Center St. Paul, Minnesota
Attendance: 19,405

Chicago players
Player POS G A PTS +/- SH PIM SHF TOI FOW FOL
Michal Handzus 1 0 1 1 2 0 23 12:13 6 11
Patrick Sharp LW 1 0 1 1 2 0 21 16:30 0 0
Marian Hossa RW 0 2 2 1 2 0 27 19:17 0 0
Michal Rozsival 0 1 1 -1 0 2 24 16:23 0 0
Brent Seabrook 0 1 1 0 0 0 32 23:46 0 0
Johnny Oduya 0 0 0 0 1 0 28 17:11 0 0
Duncan Keith 0 0 0 0 0 2 30 24:42 0 0
Marcus Kruger 0 0 0 -1 3 0 25 16:45 2 5
Nick Leddy 0 0 0 -1 0 0 25 16:57 0 0
Joakim Nordstrom 0 0 0 -1 1 0 11 6:30 1 2
Patrick Kane RW 0 0 0 -1 2 0 27 24:01 0 0
Niklas Hjalmarsson 0 0 0 0 1 0 29 18:23 0 0
Brandon Saad LW 0 0 0 -1 1 0 19 16:27 0 1
Bryan Bickell LW 0 0 0 -1 1 0 22 17:34 0 0
Brandon Bollig LW 0 0 0 0 0 2 9 4:44 0 0
Ben Smith RW 0 0 0 0 0 2 16 11:55 1 1
Jonathan Toews 0 0 0 -1 2 0 29 23:22 15 14
Kris Versteeg LW 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jeremy Morin LW 0 0 0 0 2 2 11 7:09 0 0

Minnesota players
Player POS G A PTS +/- SH PIM SHF TOI FOW FOL
Jared Spurgeon 1 1 2 1 3 2 31 20:52 0 0
Nino Niederreiter RW 1 0 1 0 2 0 29 16:40 0 0
Justin Fontaine RW 1 0 1 1 3 0 22 12:27 0 0
Jason Pominville RW 1 0 1 0 3 0 26 16:35 1 2
Ryan Suter 0 2 2 2 0 0 39 31:30 0 0
Charlie Coyle 0 1 1 0 0 0 29 17:32 1 1
Matt Cooke LW 0 1 1 1 2 0 26 15:53 1 0
Zach Parise LW 0 1 1 0 5 0 27 19:41 0 0
Mikko Koivu 0 1 1 0 2 2 33 20:48 14 12
Keith Ballard 0 0 0 -2 0 0 12 7:10 0 0
Cody McCormick 0 0 0 0 0 0 11 7:39 0 0
Dany Heatley RW 0 0 0 0 0 0 12 7:55 0 0
Erik Haula 0 0 0 1 3 0 25 15:02 6 3
Mikael Granlund 0 0 0 0 5 0 24 14:54 7 1
Marco Scandella 0 0 0 1 0 0 32 20:57 0 0
Kyle Brodziak 0 0 0 0 2 0 17 12:15 4 6
Clayton Stoner 0 0 0 -2 1 0 20 11:45 0 0
Jonas Brodin 0 0 0 2 0 0 34 26:25 0 0

Chicago goalies
Player SA GA SV SV% TOI
Corey Crawford 31 4 27 0.871 57:52
Minnesota goalies
Player SA GA SV SV% TOI
Ilya Bryzgalov 20 2 18 0.900 60:00