There were many key moments that defined the Minnesota Wild's 2015-16 season. Wild.com will take a look at some of the most important.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016 — Three days after arguably its biggest win of the season, against the Colorado Avalanche, the Minnesota Wild returned to Xcel Energy Center looking to doing something a bit uncommon.
Entering the 2016 season, it had been 76 years since an opposing team had swept a five-game regular season series with the Chicago Blackhawks.
But with the Wild having taken the first four meetings, Minnesota and Chicago met in Saint Paul in late March with the Wild riding a season-high five-game winning streak.
On the threshold of accomplishing a rare feat — the Blackhawks were also the defending Stanley Cup champions — the teams played to a 1-1 tie through 40 minutes.
And then early in the third period, the Wild broke that tie and never looked back, in turn earning its fifth win against Chicago on the season.
What It Looked Like
What Was Written
From the recap: It's the third time in Blackhawks history that they were swept in a season series of five or more games (Montreal Maroons, six games, 1936-37; Boston Bruins, eight, 1938-39).
Minnesota (38-28-11) is five points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. Colorado lost 3-1 to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.
The Wild, who the Blackhawks have eliminated from the playoffs the past three years, are four points behind the Nashville Predators for the first wild card. Minnesota, Colorado and Nashville each has five games remaining.
Defenseman Jared Spurgeon scored on a breakaway at 4:07 of the third to break a 1-1 tie with his 11th goal. Less than seven minutes later, forward Erik Haula scored his 13th goal for a two-goal lead.
"Every single game is important for us right now, so I don't think it matters who you play against," Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu said. "It's good for confidence and moving forward. But there's a lot of things that we need to prove as a team, and there's good parts that we can still get another level, and we need to do that in order to be good moving forward."
From Five Takeaways: It was just this morning Torchetti said he wants his defense to make sure it's getting up ice, and using its versatile skill set to pitch in offensively.
As Torchetti spoke in the area he always meets with the media after morning skates, in the adjacent Wild locker room, his message may have been overheard, as the Wild's defense did just that, and Jared Spurgeon scored a crucial goal for Minnesota.
After Ryan Suter won a puck back at the Wild's goal line, he moved it up to Spurgeon, who quickly sent it to Jason Pominville.
But Spurgeon wasn't done, identifying a chance to jump into the rush, side-stepping a flat-footed Patrick Kane, and blowing past him up ice.
As Mikko Koivu gained possession along the flank, he and Spurgeon simultaneously hit the blue line, the latter dragging his skate to keep onside, and then walking into a saucer-pass from Koivu.
From there, it was Spurgeon against Scott Darling, and the defenseman went forehand-to-back, flipping the puck over Darling's blocker.
The whole play began though with Spurgeon identifying the spacing, taking a calculated risk, and supporting the Wild up-ice.
What It Sounded Like
What Was Tweeted
More Sights And Sounds: