ST. PAUL, Minn. -- For the third year in a row, the Minnesota Wild will spend their summer trying to figure out how they can narrow the gap with the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks completed a four-game sweep of their Western Conference Second Round series Thursday with a 4-3 victory. It's the third consecutive year Chicago has ended Minnesota's season, and the second straight year they've done it at Xcel Energy Center.
It was another year of the Wild watching their best players be overshadowed by the Blackhawks stars. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith combined for eight goals, 11 assists and a plus-18 rating in the series. Minnesota's Zach Parise, Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter combined for two goals, seven assists and were minus-20.
Vanek did not score a goal, and Pominville did not until 2:18 remained in the third period Thursday.
Suter said a good share of the blame rests with Minnesota's top players.
"It always does, right?" Suter asked rhetorically. "We have to be better, no question about it."