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Wild unsure of starting goalie vs. Blackhawks

by Dan Rosen

DENVER -- The Minnesota Wild might have a new starting goaltender for Game 1 of their Western Conference Second Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

It's the same goalie who started Game 1 of the first-round series against the Colorado Avalanche.

Ilya Bryzgalov was forced into Game 7 on Wednesday at Pepsi Center with 8:13 remaining in the third period because starting goalie Darcy Kuemper couldn't continue because of an undisclosed injury. Bryzgalov made one save in 13:15 of work between the end of regulation and 5:02 of overtime before Nino Niederreiter scored to give the Wild a series-clinching 5-4 come-from-behind win.

Coach Mike Yeo did not have an update on Kuemper's condition following the game. Minnesota opens its series in Chicago on Friday (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

"I just know he couldn't continue in the game," Yeo said of Kuemper, who made 17 saves on 21 shots before coming out. "I'm assuming it happened in the collision behind the net, but I'm not sure so I don't have an update right now."

Yeo is referring to the collision Kuemper had with Avalanche center Matt Duchene behind the net in the second period. Kuemper's left leg appeared to buckle under him, but he stayed in the game.

However, 31 seconds after giving up a go-ahead goal to Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson, Kuemper had a long talk with defenseman Ryan Suter during a stoppage in play before trainer Don Fuller came on the ice and eventually took Kuemper with him.

"He wanted to keep going and he wanted to battle through it, but we sent Donny out to check on him and make sure he was OK, and we weren't comfortable that he was ready to go," Yeo said.

Bryzgalov said he was "freezing" on the bench for the first 2 1/2 minutes, so he literally came into the game cold. Fortunately he didn't face any shots for the remaining 8:13 of regulation, and had to stop only one shot in overtime before Niederreiter scored.

"Bryz coming in, good experience, very composed coming in," Yeo said. "I thought that he was great all night. He was real vocal in the dressing room even when he wasn't in the nets. Obviously he was ready for that opportunity."

Now he might have to be ready to become the starter again.

"All I can do is just practice," Bryzgalov said. "I can't predict the future."

Bryzgalov started the series against Colorado, but was on the losing end of Games 1 and 2. He gave up five goals on 31 shots in Game 1, and was pulled 32 minutes into Game 2 after allowing three goals on 14 shots.

"We're fortunate that we've got good depth in that position and it shouldn't change anything for us," Yeo said.


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