Happy Cinco de Mayo, State of Hockey Legion!
While you’re enjoying a cerveza, the Wild hosts Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Chicago Blackhawks. Minnesota looks to get out of its two-game deficit in the series, starting tonight at Xcel Energy Center. As Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim would say, “You’ve got to build an empire one brick at a time.” Well, I don’t know if he’d say that, but it rings true for Minnesota in this situation.
Yes the Wild is down, but this series is far from over. Tonight the club will start netminder Josh Harding. The 28-year-old has been stellar in the series, posting a .929 save percentage and a 2.65 goals against average.
The Wild will make a couple of changes at forward. Stephane Veilleux will be in the lineup tonight. He was recalled today along with Mikael Granlund and Jake Dowell. Veilleux replaces Zenon Konopka on the fourth line.
Tonight’s healthy scratches will be defensemen Justin Falk and Brett Clark. Clayton Stoner (undisclosed) and Jason Pominville (upper body) are out with injuries. Dany Heatley is sidelined after shoulder surgery.
The Wild is looking sharp in its Forrest Green with Minnesota-logo sweaters. Chicago wears its classic road whites.
If you want to keep up with the action like my homeboy Carlos, follow @mnwildLIVE in Twitterville. This page will provide period recaps.
Period 1 - MIN 1, CHI 1
Now that's what I'm talking about, playoff hockey! The Blackhawks were first on the board, but the Wild responded late in the period to even the period.
The Blackhawks held the offensive zone and Patrick Kane had the puck at the right faceoff dot. He threaded a cross-ice pass to Johnny Oduya, who fired a wrist shot past Harding. Marian Hossa was given the second assist.
Cal Clutterbuck broke through the neutral zone and wrested a shot on net. Corey Crawford made the save, but kicked out a rebound and Clutterbuck found Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who roofed a backhand into the upper-right corner of the net for his first of the playoffs. Kyle Brodziak picked up the second assist.
That was a physical, intense and tested period of hockey. No coincidence it was the Wild's best period of the playoffs, outshooting the Hawks, 15-9, and out-hit them, 17-4.
Period 2 - MIN 1, CHI 1
Another good period from the Wild, but no scoring to report. Once again Minnesota outshot the Blackhawks, 14-8, for a two period total of 29-17.
Now the club just needs to bury one of its chances, keep the Hawks off the board and we'll get out of here at decent hour.
Period 3 - MIN 2, CHI 2
The Wild took the lead early in the period, but the Blackhawks tied it late to send the game into an extra frame.
Charlie Coyle won a battle in the offensive zone and took control of the puck. He then slid a backhand pass out front to Zach Parise. He did the rest and put a backhand into the upper right corner past Crawford.
The Hawks evened things up late in regulation. Kane created time and space at the blue line and found Duncan Keith with a cross-ice pass. Keith buried a slapper high on Harding.
Well this is what the Stanley Cup Playoffs is all about. Who's going to be the hero?
Overtime - MIN 3, CHI 2
Well that didn't take long. Jason Zucker is clutch and he hammers home the overtime winner just 2:15 into the extra frame. Assisting on the play were Matt Cullen and Bouchard.
Game 4 is Tuesday night with the Wild looking to even the series. See you there.