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Wild even series with Blackhawks
St. Paul, MN (SportsNetwork.com) - Matt Cooke provided an immediate spark in his return from a suspension and the Minnesota Wild remained undefeated at home in these playoffs with a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Jason Pominville, Nino Niederreiter, Justin Fontaine and Jared Spurgeon supplied the goals for the Wild, who have outscored the opposition 16-5 while winning all five games at Xcel Energy Center.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 18 saves as the Wild evened this Western Conference semifinal series at two games apiece.
Patrick Sharp and Michal Handzus each had goals, and Corey Crawford stopped 27 shots for Chicago, which will host Game 5 on Sunday.
"They worked for everything they got and we got to do the same," said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.
Cooke received a seven-game ban for kneeing Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie in Game 3 of the opening round, and he didn't take long to make his presence felt, helping give Minnesota an early lead.
The antagonizing forward stole the puck from Chicago defenseman Michal Rozsival on the forecheck and dished to Fontaine, who went top shelf to beat Crawford from the right circle 7:24 into the game. It was the first career playoff goal for Fontaine.
"It's fun to contribute and it's fun to chip in. It's just fun to be back out there again," Cooke said. "I should have fresh legs. I've got to go out there and lead the way and hopefully my energy is contagious."
Chicago got a goal from Sharp after a bad pinch by Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner late in the first period.
Marian Hossa started a rush from the Blackhawks zone and moved the puck to Sharp, who skated past Mikko Koivu and fired a shot from the bottom of the right circle through the pads of Bryzgalov with 38.2 seconds remaining. Koivu was covering for Stoner.
The Wild regained the edge when Pominville put the puck in off Crawford from behind the net at the 3:51 mark of the second period.
The goal was the first of three in a 3:21 span.
Handzus planted himself in front of Bryzgalov and tipped in a Brent Seabrook point shot that was going wide for the tying goal at 6:28. Niederreiter beat Crawford on the glove side with a wrister from the left circle 44 seconds later to restore the lead for Minnesota.
Spurgeon added a power-play goal at 3:47 of the third period. Koivu threaded the puck past a sprawled Chicago player and the stick of another across the ice to Spurgeon, who buried a shot from below the right circle.
The Wild are 1-5 on the road this postseason and have been outscored 17-26 ... Minnesota has held Chicago to 22 or fewer shots in each game of this series ... Wild forward Matt Moulson sat out with a lower-body injury ... Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw missed a third straight game with a lower-body injury he suffered in the series opener.
05/10 01:59:18 ET
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