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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, May 9th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (2-1) at Minnesota Wild (1-2), 9:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Wild surprised the heavily-favored Chicago Blackhawks with a shutout victory in Game 3. The Wild hope to repeat that success and tie the Western Conference semifinals at two games apiece when they host the defending Stanley Cup champions in Friday's Game 4 from Xcel Energy Center.
After losing the first two games of this best-of-seven set in Chicago by a combined 9-3 margin, Minnesota answered with Tuesday's 4-0 victory on home ice. Game 3 was scoreless after 40 minutes, but the Wild rode a strong third period to their first win of the series.
Minnesota was able to get in the win column thanks to third-period goals from Mikael Granlund -- who scored twice -- Zach Parise and Erik Haula. Ilya Bryzgalov also made 19 saves for his first playoff shutout in eight years.
"Happy to get the win and happy for a lot of our guys," said Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo. "Whether it's Bryz, whether it's our big guys, they all did well tonight and it's good to see. Now we need to build on this and even the series."
Minnesota is in the second round of the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history. The club made it to the Western Conference finals in 2003, then lost its next three postseason series before downing Colorado in seven games in this spring's opening round.
The Wild have won three straight home games and are 4-1 as the host this postseason.
The Blackhawks, meanwhile, hope to bounce back in Game 4 and take a commanding 3-1 lead in this series. A victory tonight for Chicago would give the club a chance to close the set out Sunday on home ice.
Corey Crawford gave up three goals on 17 shots for the Blackhawks, who had won six straight games before Tuesday's setback. Chicago had been perfect since falling behind 2-0 to St. Louis in the opening round.
"I didn't mind our first 40 minutes, but when they got that goal to start the third it got the crowd electrified," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. "We played the right way but they're as tight a defensive team as we're going to play here. Chances are going to be low and we have to work with that."
The game was scoreless going into the third, but the Wild struck quickly to take a 1-0 lead. Haula scored off a nice saucer pass from Justin Fontaine at 1:41 of the third. Granlund scored his first goal less than three minutes later.
The score stayed 2-0 until Parise tallied on the power play with 2:35 left. Granlund followed with an empty-netter with 1:17 remaining to seal the victory.
"It was a tough game because we're playing a really good team," said Granlund. "After the first goal things seemed to open up a bit. It's a new series again. We'll enjoy this and come back ready for Friday."
Bryzgalov only had to make four saves in the third for his fourth playoff shutout and first since May 7, 2006 with Anaheim.
Minnesota expects to get Matt Cooke back for Game 4 as the controversial forward has completed a seven-game suspension for delivering a knee-on-knee hit against Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie in Game 3 of the opening-round series.
Cooke had one assists in three games before getting punished for the hit, which knocked Barrie out for the remainder of the playoffs.
In injury news for Chicago, center Andrew Shaw has missed two straight contests after exiting Game 1 with a lower-body injury and will sit out Friday as well. Jeremy Morin replaced Shaw in the lineup for Game 2, but was a healthy scratch on Tuesday when Brandon Bollig skated in his place.
Defenseman Nick Leddy was a healthy scratch in Game 3 when veteran Sheldon Brookbank took his place in the lineup, but Leddy will be back on the ice Friday.
05/09 10:46:32 ET
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