Minnesota Wild defeated Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 Friday night at Xcel Energy Centre.
Justin Fontaine scored his first goal of the playoffs early in the first to give his team the lead.
The Blackhawks tied the game twice but could never get the lead. Jason Pominville and Nino Niederreiter both scored in the second period and a careless Chicago penalty allowed Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon to score and put the game out of reach.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 18 saves on the night, including stoning Patrick Kane on a breakaway. Minnesota’s win ties the series at 2-2 and gives them the chance to take their first lead in the series on Sunday in Chicago.
The Minnesota Wild once again proved how crucial home ice can be in a playoff series.
They fed off the energy of the crowd and simply outworked the Blackhawks all game long. This Wild team was built on speed, and they showed that again Friday
Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were all involved yet again. Suter ended the game with two assists and Parise and Koivu each got an assist as well.
Matt Cooke returned to the lineup after serving his seven game suspension and was instrumental in the Wild’s victory.
He threw several key hits in the game and assisted on the Wild’s first goal. Mikael Granlund and Kyle Brozniak used their speed to force turnovers and peppered Corey Crawford with shots. Overall, this was a fantastic team effort and a well deserved win for Minnesota.
All the pressure is on the defending Stanley Cup champion's, the Blackhawks, now.
There weren’t many positives for them to take away in this game at all. Crawford in particular struggled. He let in two very soft goals and the Minnesota home crowd let him know it, chanting his name all throughout the game.
Patrick Sharp and Michael Handzus did score. But Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa were silenced throughout the game. Both Kane and Toews lost their composure and were frustrated.
The question now is will the Blackhawks be able to respond with a win at home and shift the momentum in this series again?
Or will this impressive victory by the Wild give them enough of a boost to steal a win on the road?
If Ilya Bryzgalov can put in another solid performance on the road, the Wild will have a good chance of claiming their first lead in the series.
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