Minnesota Wild Comeback Falls Short, Chicago Blackhawks Win 4-3


3. 98. Final. 4. 94

An incredible comeback by the Minnesota Wild fell short, as the Blackhawks hung on to win 4-3

Good morning Minnesota Wild fans. What a great game to open the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Wild and Chicago Blackhawks. Sure, the outcome wasn’t the best, but the Wild never gave up and it made for a thrilling match-up. After the Chicago Blackhawks roared out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, Devan Dubnyk settled down and the wild tightened up defensively to open up the game offensively. Jason Zucker, Zach Parise, and Mikael Granlund all picked up goals to tie the game by 10 minute mark of the middle frame in what looked to be an improbable comeback. Unfortunately, a fluttering wrister by Blackhawks rookie Teuvo Teravainen sealed the game for the Blackhawks.

First Period:

It didn’t take the Blackhawks long to open the scoring. Just 75 seconds in to the game, Marian Hossa intercepted a pass by Granlund it the Wild’s offensive zone and broke out in a 3-on-2. Hossa found Brandon Saad cruising down the right-wing wall. Saad outworked Ryan Suter and squeezed a shot past Dubnyk to make it 1-0 Blackhawks at 01:15 of first period.

The Minnesota Wild pressed really well all through the first period; however, Chicago used a little run-and-gun and pressured at the blue line every chance they got.

Later in the first, Patrick Kane added to the Blackhawks lead. Straight after a face-off in the Chicago zone, Antoine Vermette joined Brad Richards and Kane for in to the offensive zone. Richards, coming down the left-wing wall, sent a cross-ice pass to Kane. Before the camera could catch up, Kane let loose a one-timer that flew past Dubnyk to make it 2-0 Blackhawks at 13:11 of the first period.

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The Blackhawks weren’t done yet, though. 2 minutes later, Marcus Kruger shoveled home a backhander off of an Andrew Shaw rebound to make it 3-0 Blackhawks at 15:15 of the first period.

Zach Parise took an interference penalty about 15 seconds later, sending Chicago to its power play. The Wild killed the penalty off. At the time it didn’t seem like much, but it made a huge difference for the Wild’s second period.

Shots after one period: Minnesota Wild 13, Chicago Blackhawks 8

Second Period:

Johnny Oduya rang a shot off the pipe early in the second. The resounding sound from the crossbar must’ve been a wake-up call for the Wild, who took over the play to mount an impressive comeback.

Jason Zucker forced an offensive zone face-off by putting a shot on goal that Corey Crawford had to gobble up. After the ensuing face-off, Mathew Dumba forced the puck behind the Blackhawks net where Charlie Coyle dug it free from the boards. Coyle sent the puck up the boards to Thomas Vanek. Vanek centered for Zucker, who put a beautiful forehand deflection past Crawford to make it 3-1 Blackhawks at 01:15 of the second period. Have a look at the absolutely beautiful play below:

In the 4th minute, Michal Rozsival held Zach Parise and the Wild went to its first power play of the night. Barely 30 seconds in to the power play, Mikko Koivu put a shot on net that Crawford steered to the side of the net but didn’t cover. Vanek beat Crawford to the puck centered it for Parise, pushed it home through Crawford’s 5-hole to make it 3-2 Blackhawks at 5:07 of the second period.

Then, in the 9th minute, Granlund tied the game, but it was all thanks to Zach Parise. As the Wild cycled through the offensive zone, Parise intercepted loose pucks several times and set up Granlund for a tight angle wrister to make it a 3-3 tie at 09:30 of the second period.

After the tying goal, Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville took his timeout and had a few words with his faltering team. It must’ve worked, because the Blackhawks picked up the pace and, besides a Thomas Vanek Slapshot that rang wide, much of the play ended up in the Wild’s end.

You know how they say those final minute goals are momentum killers? Well, Chicago took the lead back with Teravainen’s first career playoff goal. The rookie’s fluttering wrist shot got past Dubnyk on the short side. 4-3 Blackhawks at 19:01 of the second period.

Shots after two periods: Minnesota Wild 25, Chicago Blackhawks 20

Third Period:

Tough to say if the Wild let off the gas or if the Blackhawks added more pressure. Either way, the Wild couldn’t find the equalizer despite great chances by Chris Stewart,  Zucker, and Dumba.

Two dismal power plays for the Wild also didn’t help matters for the Wild, as they simply couldn’t convert.

The Wild pulled Dumba for an extra attacker late in the 3rd, but just couldn’t get the game tied. Chicago wins this one to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final shots on goal: Minnesota Wild 33, Chicago Blackhawks 35

Trembley’s Take:

I’m starting to loathe these late starts, but the Wild made this one worth it. They simply didn’t give up during the game and pushed Chicago to its limits in the second period. That said, the Wild’s defense put them in a hole from the get go.

Marco Scandella found himself on the wrong side of the ice during Patrick Kane’s goal and, on Teravainen’s goal, Jordan Leopold was out of position. They tightened up in the second, but if they had played the same defensive game in the first, the outcome likely would’ve been different. I don’t expect the Wild will make the same mistakes again on Sunday. Head Coach Mike Yeo said it best during his post game press conference: “If you want to ask, we’re not rattled right now.” This is one game of a 7 game series. The Wild will rebound

Zach Parise, awarded the NHL’s 2nd star of the night, was the best player on the ice all night. He’s completely responsible for Granlund’s goal. He’s opportunistic, tenacious, and just a ton of fun to watch.

The Wild is right back at it Sunday night for round 2, game 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Talk to you then!

Next: Some Numbers For The Wild / Blackhawks Round 2

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