Welcome to Game 2, State of Hockey Legion!
Tonight, the Wild looks to even the series with the Chicago Blackhawks in the second game of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series. Chicago took Game 1 on Tuesday in overtime, 2-1, but the Wild are primed and ready tonight.
The Wild’s game plan is to be more physical tonight. Minnesota wants to get pucks behind Chicago’s defenseman in the attacking zone, finish checks and establish its forecheck. Playing a physical game will not only set up the offense, but also important to punish the Hawks to set up the remainder of the series.
Josh Harding is set for his second-career playoff start. In Game 1, he was the surprise starter after Niklas Backstrom suffered a lower-body injury in warm-ups. Not surprising, Harding was excellent in his first playoff start and made 35 saves.
Joining the Wild lineup will be Justin Falk. The blueliner replaces Clayton Stoner, who suffered an undisclosed injury in Game 1 and is not available tonight. Falk will look to be a physical force on the back end and is paired with Tom Gilbert.
Tonight’s healthy scratches will be Nate Prosser and Brett Clark. The Wild will be without Jason Pominville for the third-straight game, out with an upper-body injury. Dany Heatley is out after having shoulder surgery.
Minnesota rocks its road whites, while the Hawks use its home red sweaters.
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Period 1 - MIN 0, CHI 1
The Wild will have to play from behind after a period against the Hawks.
The Blackhawks were on the receiving end of a fortunate bounce. Andrew Shaw fired a long shot, that was partially blocked by Justin Falk and the puck bounced right onto the tape of Michael Frolik. The forward fired the puck over an outstretched Josh Harding from the left side of the net. Nick Leddy is credited with the second assist.
Things could've been worse for Minnesota, but it weathered Chicago's first period storm. Now that the Wild is settled in, it's time to start the comeback and even this series out.
Period 2 - MIN 1, CHI 2
The Hawks jumped out to a two goal lead, but the Wild cut it back to one late in the second period.
Frolik is on an unbelievable string of puck luck tonight. He again is on the receiving end of a great bounce after a blocked shot. Keith broke in and Jared Spurgeon blocked his backhand attempt. However, the puck land right on Frolik's stick and he fired it through Harding's legs for his second of the night.
The Wild got on the board after a 2-on-1 in transition. The Wild was hemmed in its own zone and Jason Zucker chipped a puck high off the glass. The puck came to Matt Cullen at the red line and the center carried the puck in. He found a cutting Devin Setoguchi, who made no mistake and put the puck into the top corner of the net.
The Wild has 20 minutes for a comeback and to even the series. Let's do this!
Period 3 - MIN 2, CHI 5
The Hawks extended its lead in the third period and the Wild added a goal, but couldn't mount a comeback.
After a rush in transition, the Hawks kept the puck in the Wild's end. Patrick Sharp took a bouncing puck off the end boards and chipped a backhand over the top of Harding. Patrick Kane and Michal Handzus assisted on the play.
Sharp scored his second of the period on a beautiful feed from Kane. The forward made a no-look spin pass from the slot to find Sharp at the left side of the net for a wide open one-timer.
Marco Scandella scored his first-career playoff goal after a scrum in front of Crawford. A rebound came to the top of the circle and Scandella whipped a snap shot low past Crawford's blocker. Cullen and Charlie Coyle assisted on the goal.
Bryan Bickell added an empty netter with 10 seconds left to ice the game.
The series shifts to the State of Hockey on Sunday for Game 3. Game time is 2 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center.