Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota Wild - Game Three

Wild erupt for four goals in third period, shut out Blackhawks in Game 3


For two periods, it seemed the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks were content with a tight-checking game devoid of much pace or excitement. Then the third period started. Did things ever change quickly.

The Wild, after failing to rise to the occasion during the first two games of this series in Chicago, came alive in the third period of Game 3 on Tuesday, erupting for a quartet of goals. Erik Haula and Mikael Granlund scored less than three minutes apart early in the period to open up a lead for the Wild, and Minnesota captured a 4-0 victory to cut Chicago’s series lead to 2-1.

Ilya Bryzgalov picked up his first Stanley Cup playoff shutout since 2006, when he posted three consecutive goose eggs as a member of the Anaheim Ducks. The last of those shutouts came May 7, 2006, according to Talk about timing.

Bryzgalov made 19 saves, atoning for an individual eight consecutive losses in playoff starts, dating back to May of 2012.

There were anxious moments for the Wild, despite the win. Ryan Suter, the Wild’s anchor on the blue line, briefly left the game in the second period after an awkward fall with Chicago forward Marian Hossa. Suter went off to the dressing room, but did return for the third period.

Wild head coach Mike Yeo said he was told Suter’s injury was “nothing serious,” as per Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press.

The Minnesota win ensures the series goes beyond four games, and now the Wild will have a chance to even this one up on Friday.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.