Minnesota Wild Fall to Chicago Blackhawks, Lose Game Two


4. 94. 1. 98. Final

Too many defensive breakdowns cost the Minnesota Wild, who fell 4-1 at the United Center Sunday night.

Good Morning Minnesota Wild fans. After a defensively sound start, the Wild made too many mistakes in the final 30 minutes if the game and the Chicago Blackhawks capitalized. Mathew Dumba’s power play marker in the 3rd stood as the Wild’s lone goal. Now down 2 games to zero in the best-of-7 Western Conference Semi-finals, the Minnesota Wild will return to St. Paul for two must-win games.

First Period:

No scoring in the first, though both teams had good chances. The Wild built momentum on every shift until Thomas Vanek took a garbage goaltender interference penalty. Duncan Keith pushed Vanek in to Corey Crawford, which should make it incidental contact and not a penalty. Unfortunately, the Wild can’t change what happened and found themselves shorthanded, which they killed handily.

Mikael Granlund, Zach Parise, and Jason Pominville all had some good chances after the penalty expired, but Crawford stopped them all handily.

The one positive I took away from the first period was the Wild’s ability to pick up on odd-man rushes through transition and stop them before they became quality scoring chances.

Shots after one period: Minnesota Wild 6, Chicago Blackhawks 9

Second Period:

Early in the second, Jason Zucker slotted on to the Wild’s second line with Mikko Koivu and Chris Stewart. I still don’t like that combination much, but I’m not the coach.

Stewart managed a solo rush in the opening few minutes, but Johnny Oduya grabbed his ankle and pulled him down. Stewart caromed in to the boards shoulder first and exited the ice in pain. He returned later in the second. No penalty was assessed on Oduya. Again, I get that it’s frustrating, but there’s more to this loss than a couple of blown calls by the officials.

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Towards the end of the 10th minute, Andrew Shaw put a wicked cross check on Jared Spurgeon in front of the Wild’s goal, sending Minnesota to its first power play. A good opportunity for the Wild suddenly disappeared as Jonathan Toews opened the scoring with a shorthanded blast.

After a shot by Pominville was blocked by the Blackhawks, the puck came out to center ice. Ryan Suter tried to recover at the center red line, but Marian Hossa stole the puck and broke out in a 2-on-0 with Toews. Hossa passed off for Toews coming down the right-wing wall and Toews unleashed a one-timer on the move. Devan Dubnyk made the initial save but the puck fell behind him and bounced off the butt of his stick and in to the goal as Suter tried desperately to stop it at the goal line. 1-0 Blackhawks at 12:28 of the first period.

After the Wild’s power play expired with a whimper, Mathew Dumba put a slap shot on goal that Crawford stopped, giving up a juicy rebound for Parise. Parise tried to get the puck up and over the leg pad of Crawford, but couldn’t fire it home.

In the final minute of the second, Patrick Kane put the Blackhawks up by a pair. Nino Niederreiter didn’t touch the puck during a delayed offside call for fear of bring the face-off back to the Wild zone and Ducan Keith Capitalized, send a long outlet pass to Kane. Kane snuck around Suter in the neutral zone, rocketed in to the Wild’s end and snapped home his 100th career playoff point past the blocker of Dubnyk to make it 2-0 Blackhawks at 19:40 of the second period.

With two seconds left in middle frame, Michal Rozsival took an interference penalty that would give the Wild a power play opportunity to open the final frame.

Shots after two periods: Minnesota Wild 16, Chicago Blackhawks 21

Third period:

Mathew Dumba picked up his second goal of the playoffs with a power play goal to open the second. After the Blackhawks cleared the Wild out of the offensive zone, Suter shipped the puck up ice for Dumba. The young defenseman carried the puck in to the offensive zone and put a wrist shot on goal from along the boards on the right-wing wall. The perfectly placed wrister went over the shoulder of Crawford to make it 2-1 Blackhawks at 01:20 of the third period. Dubnyk earned the second assist, so that’s pretty cool.

Mikko Koivu took a tripping penalty in the 4th minute that only served to slow the Wild down. Chicago registered one shot on goal.

Just as the Wild looked to push for the equalizer, Patrick Sharp added a goal of his own to make it 3-1 Blackhawks at 07:39 of the third period.

Devan Dubnyk was pulled for an extra attacker in the 17th minute and Kane struck again, stickhandling around several white sweaters before potting home an empty netter to make it 4-1 Blackhawks at 17:53 of the third period.

Final shots on goal: Minnesota Wild 31, Chicago Blackhawks 31.

Trembley’s Take:

The Minnesota Wild just barely lost game one, fighting back from a huge deficit to tie the game. That wasn’t the case tonight. After about 30 minutes of good defensive play, they looked like their skates were filled with lead.

Consider Ryan Suter. Suter is undoubtedly one of the best transition defensemen in the NHL right? Tonight, he was on the ice for all of Chicago’s goals, looked tired, out of sorts, and out of position. Not characteristic of Suter.

On the other hand, Mathew Dumba, who carried a -1 rating and the lone goal, was opportunistic, took chances, and wasn’t afraid to jump up on the rush when it was appropriate. Win or loss, the Minnesota Wild can’t continue to play safe hockey against a team that generates scoring chances from thin air.

Dubnyk probably want’s Sharp’s goal back but played fine otherwise. He bobbled the puck a few times but so did Crawford.

Not a lot of positives tonight, the Wild simply looked beat. Now 0-8 at the United Center in the playoffs, the onus is on Minnesota to turn things around in the second city.

Thank goodness this is a best of 7 series, right? The Wild returns home to St. Paul for game 3 at 7:00 Tuesday night.

Next: Jordan Leopold: More Than Just A Feel Good Story

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