ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cooke returned from his suspension in a big way Friday in Game 4 of the Western Conference Second Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Cooke, who was suspended seven games for his knee-on-knee hit against Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round, helped the Wild to a 4-2 win that evened the best-of-7 series 2-2 heading back to Chicago for Game 5 on Sunday (9 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN, RDS2).
He made his presence felt right away, slamming Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith into the boards with a big hit 20 seconds into his first shift. On his second shift, Cooke hit Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy along the wall, forcing a turnover that led to an odd-man rush.
On his third shift, he was instrumental in getting the Wild on the board, using an aggressive forecheck to create another turnover and leaving the puck on the stick of linemate Justin Fontaine, who rifled a shot past Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.
“He’s a playoff performer,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “He was brought in here to do a lot of things and help you get to the playoffs, but the experience he has, the way that first goal was created, that’s what we’re looking for.”