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Wild hope to play better defensively in Game 3

by Dan Myers /

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild were content with their play in a 4-3 Game 1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference Second Round series, but said their effort in a 4-1 loss in Game 2 left them underwhelmed.

After rallying from a 3-0 deficit in the first period of Game 1, the Wild believed they had momentum to build on for Game 2. But the Blackhawks dominated much of Game 2 on Sunday, leaving the Wild in a 2-0 hole as the best-of-7 series shifts to Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday (8 p.m.; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"We need to get back to our game. Obviously, Game 2 wasn't the Minnesota Wild," forward Jason Zucker said Monday. "We didn't play our game and it's definitely not good enough. We have to make sure we come out in Game 3 and really play our game and battle hard."

Minnesota did not practice Monday but held a team meeting and watched film of Game 2.

"I don't know if it was Chicago's game. It just wasn't our game, that's all," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "If we're going to be frustrated with anything we should be frustrated with ourselves a little bit here. It would be far more frustrating if we played two good games and came out on the short end.

The Wild turned pucks over at the blue line and were not good enough in the defensive zone.

"For us, physical is being down low, working the puck, using our [defensemen] and I think we kind of got away from that [on Sunday]," forward Thomas Vanek said. "In the second and third period of the first game, I thought we got back to our game, getting pucks deep and creating chances. For whatever reason [Sunday], we were trying those long plays like them and that's not the kind of team we are.

"Play our game," Vanek said. "You don't beat teams by playing their way, especially not Chicago. If you play their way, it will look like we did [in Game 2]. We have to find our game here quickly and I'm sure we will."

The Wild have returned home for Game 3 in each of the last two playoff series against Chicago. Last season, the Wild won each game in St. Paul to tie the series at 2-2 before Chicago eventually won the series in six games.

"I think the experience is always good when you've been through that and you know from the experience," Wild captain Mikko Koivu said. "A lot of guys have been here for that. But at the same time, you need to create those experiences again. It's a new year, a new series, so we can't just think that it's going to happen. It's about the preparation right now and making sure we're ready to go for when the puck drops and play the way we can. We can't look too far ahead of ourselves. I think that's what we've been good at the last couple months and that's what we need to do right now."

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