The Minnesota Wild shutout the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 Tuesday night in Game 3 of their Stanley Cup Playoff Conference Semi-Final series. The Wild have cut the Blackhawks 2-0 series lead in half and have an opportunity to even the series at two apiece Friday night.
The Wild turned a scoreless game through two periods into a 4-0 rout with a relentless attack in the final frame. Minnesota turned 4 of their 8 third period shots into goals while their defense limited the Blackhawks to four shots over the final 20 minutes. Both teams played a tight checking, puck control style game and the Wild were the first team to capitalize on their opportunities. After the first goal the floodgates opened for the Minnesota Wild inundating the Blackhawks.
The goals scored by Minnesota’s Erik Haula and Mikael Granlund just 2:23 apart early in the third period broke open the game, putting the pressure squarely on on Chicago. The ‘Hawks were unable to answer that bell and the Wild tacked on two more goals including a power play goal by Zach Parise at the 17:25 mark and an empty netter with 1:17 left to play
At the other end of the ice the Wild were being stymied by Corey Crawford for two periods. They put just five shots on Crawford in each of the first two periods some were grade A scoring chances that Crawford just gobbled up. Then came the third period. Once the Wild scored the first goal on Crawford his confidence seemed to waver then after Granlund scored his first of two, cracks appeared. Now with a win under their belt and Crawford’s confidence may be a bit shaken as game four quickly approaches. On the other hand this may have been just what the doctor ordered for Bryzgalov and his shaken psyche.
Bryzgalov faced 7 shots in the first period and 8 shots in the second period. Throughout the night the Wild’s net minder play a very positionally sound and confident game. Time and time again he was in position as the Blackhawk shot came in. Bryzgalov didn’t face a great deal of shots, but the shots he did were handled well. There was not a lot fumbling and big rebounds given up, this night at least. Bryzgalov’s record now stands at 2-4 with an .860 save % and a 3.09. Still some pretty ugly numbers for a Stanley cup playoff goalie. Heck, they’re ugly for any net minder at any time of any season. Tuesday night is something positive for Bryzgalov to build on after tough losses in games one and two of this series. I’d look for Bryzgalov to come out swinging in game four.
The Minnesota Wild forwards scored four goals and added 7 of 8 assists on the night. Defenseman Ryan Suter picked up the 8th helper, the only Wild D-man to register a point. Once again the Wild demonstrated a well balanced scoring attack with three goal scorers and 7 players with an asssist. Just a single player had a goal and an assist, Zach Parise (who else eh’). The other multiple point night players were Granlund (2 goals) and Jason Pominville with a pair of helpers.
This was a big win, a HUGE WIN for the Minnesota Wild in this Stanley Cup Conference Semi-Final series. The work is just begun however. Three more wins are needed for this goal to be reached. There is still a long row to hoe. This was a great start and the team needs to keep the puck moving. Game 4 is Friday with face off at 8:30 pm.
I’ll be back Friday Morning with a preview of Wild vs Blackhawks round 4. Until then, this is Scott Drain a bit hoarse but still yelling, still shouting, “LET’S GO WILD – BEAT THE ‘HAWKS -LET’S GO WILD!!”