The Minnesota Wild has met the Chicago Blackhawks three years in a row in the post-season, getting eliminated in each of the previous two occasions.
With Devan Dubnyk enjoying a resurgence in his career since getting traded to Minnesota out of Arizona and a deep lineup that has gained valuable experience in playoff hardship, the Wild has been a force since turning its season around in mid-January, and this team’s chance of finally getting past the Blackhawks in the playoffs has never been this good.
Still, Minnesota trails this second-round series 1-0 after a loss on Friday.
But the Wild’s valiant comeback attempt, which fell just short despite roaring back from a three-goal deficit in the second period, has the Blackhawks on notice.
“They won the game, but they’re probably not feeling too well about the pushback we had. We came here to get one and hopefully we get one,” said Chris Stewart, as per The Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The Wild and Blackhawks meet in Game 2 on Sunday in Chicago.
“We’re looking at a team that’s played as well as anyone over the last 50 games,” Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville told USA Today.
“That’s our challenge. They’re dangerous, they’re fast. They’re quick. They have a lot of weaponry in their attack. They have a mobile defense. We have a dangerous team on the other side and they’re going to get their turns. Every game is going to be on the line.”
The votes are in. Johnstown, Pennsylvania, will host the inaugural Kraft Hockeyville USA event, which will feature an exhibition game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning on Sept. 29.
The event will be broadcast live on NBCSN. The Cambria County War Memorial Arena will also receive $150,000 in arena upgrades, including to its ice-making equipment and scoreboard.
“The response we’ve seen from these communities and their rallying support for each other has been truly inspiring,” said Jane Hilk, chief marketing officer and president, Kraft Beverages and Snack Nuts Division, in a statement.
“Since the voting period began, we’ve received an astounding 20.4 million votes from passionate hockey fans across the country, and are so proud to award the inaugural ‘Kraft Hockeyville™ USA‘ title to such a well-deserving community.”
The Minnesota Wild couldn’t fully complete the comeback against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, losing Game 1 of this second-round series.
“They came out flying and we weren’t really up to speed. Finally in the second period we got playing the way were capable of,” Ryan Suter told Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
It’s one loss. The Wild has been in much more dire situations, like the one that clouded over that team in January.
A late second-period goal from Teuvo Teravainen — his first career playoff goal — proved to be the winner in this series opener for Chicago, after the Wild got back into the game, erasing a three-goal deficit from the first period.
“If you want to ask, we’re not rattled right now,” said Wild head coach Mike Yeo, as per Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press.
It could be that these two teams are digging in for a long series. The Wild has left an impression on the Blackhawks.
“They’re a really good hockey team. You can just feel that out there. They’re just after you like crazy,” Blackhawks Niklas Hjalmarsson told Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.
And it could be this series comes down to goaltending, between Devan Dubnyk and Corey Crawford.
Minnesota forward Justin Fontaine left the game midway through the second period and did not return.
Jason Pominville might lose sleep over this one.
Late in the third period, with the Minnesota Wild pressing for the tying goal to send Game 1 into overtime, the puck took a fortuitous bounce off the end glass and eventually found its way to Pominville in a prime shooting location. But the puck was rolling, and Pominville sent his shot well wide of the net, with goalie Corey Crawford beat.
The host Chicago Blackhawks held on from there for the 4-3 victory and a 1-0 series lead over the Wild.
Earlier on, it looked like this game might turn into a blowout. The Blackhawks, in front of their home crowd, erupted to beat Devan Dubnyk three times on eight shots, taking a 3-0 lead into the intermission.
But the Wild battled back. Jason Zucker, Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund scored within a span of 9:30 into the middle period, getting Minnesota back into a tie game. Dubnyk did his part, making a spectacular save on Patrick Sharp to ensure the Wild didn’t fall further behind when still trailing by two.
However, Teuvo Teravainen’s first career playoff goal — a wrist shot from the side boards that got by Dubnyk — with under a minute remaining in that frantic second period stood as the winner.
Montreal Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien was upset with what he believed to be a missed offside call seconds before the Tampa Bay Lightning scored the double overtime winner in Game 1 on Friday.
Nikita Kucherov scored the goal. However, about 12 seconds before, it appears Tampa Bay is offside entering the Montreal zone on the rush. No call was made, and Kucherov eventually buried his shot from the slot.
“It’s really frustrating to lose a game on an offside. Those things aren’t supposed to happen,” said Therrien, as per John Lu of TSN.
In the first overtime, the Lightning appeared to have the winner, but the goal at the end of a Kucherov breakaway was disallowed when the official determined Kucherov forced the right pad of Carey Price into the net on the save.