After suffering a 4-1 loss tonight, the Minnesota Wild are just two defeats away from being eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks for the third straight year. Certainly the team isn’t devoid of hope as the first two contests were in Chicago, so if Minnesota can defend the Xcel Energy Center in Games 3 and 4 then this will essentially be anyone’s series again.
Still just because a road to success remains doesn’t mean that it will be easy for Minnesota to travel. By the sounds of it, Wild coach Mike Yeo thinks they’ll need to make some adjustments to avoid falling victim to a familiar narrative.
“I don’t know what team played that game tonight, but it wasn’t us,” Yeo said, per the team’s Twitter feed. “I think we were focused on the goal, focused on the win, and not focused on the things we needed to do.”
Yeo still thinks the Wild have the personnel in place to win this series, but they have to crack down on the mental mistakes.
“It was a between the ears thing,” the bench boss told the Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff in reference to Sunday’s loss.
Among other things, the Wild need to limit Chicago’s top players. Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp each have three points already in this series while Jonathan Toews netted a shorthanded goal in Game 2. Complicating things further is the fact that Minnesota wasn’t that great of a home team in 2014-15. The Wild were 22-13-6 at the Xcel Energy Center, which ties them for the worst home record of any playoff team.
We got plenty of playoff action ahead tonight as this is the first and only day featuring three second round contests. The games are pretty spread out too, so while there will be some overlap, there might not be a ton of it (that will of course be partially dependent on whether or not any of the games go to overtime).
The first contest will be Game 2 of Tampa Bay’s series against Montreal. The puck is scheduled to drop at 6:00 p.m. ET, but the pregame coverage starts at 5:00. You can watch it on NBCSN and stream it online via NBC Sports Live Extra:
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Starting at 8:30 p.m. ET, Minnesota will battle to even its series with Chicago. That game will also be on NBCSN, but if you want to watch the stream, please note that it has a different URL than the Lightning-Canadien game:
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Lastly, Anaheim will attempt to extend its playoff winning streak to six games when it takes on Calgary. Although the contest is scheduled to start at 10:00 p.m. ET, the pregame coverage will begin at 9:00. You can watch the contest on CNBC and steam it via the link below:
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford made 27 saves in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 victory over Minnesota tonight, but one in particular gave fans a scare.
With the game drawing to a close, Wild defenseman Marco Scandella fired a hard and high shot that nailed Crawford in the front of his mask. Crawford appeared to be dazed as a result of the blow and perhaps had some difficulty keeping his balance. He did end up staying in the game, but went to the bench to get a new mask.
After the contest, Crawford said he was fine, per the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc. He changed his mask because Scandella’s shot dented it.
He had a rocky start to the playoffs, but has led Chicago to a 2-0 series lead in the second round.
Part of the reason the Chicago Blackhawks have been successful over the last seven years is because they have so many top end forwards. How can you silence a team led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa? The Minnesota Wild didn’t have the answer to that question tonight. Instead, they suffered a 4-1 loss to Chicago.
To Minnesota’s credit, the squad did hold its own defensively in the first half of the game. It took a great sequence by Hossa and Toews to break the scoreless tie at 12:28 of the second period, and even then the goal partially went in because Wild netminder Devan Dubnyk was the victim of some bad puck luck.
Minnesota might have been able to recover from that, but Kane made it 2-0 with roughly 20 seconds left in the second frame. Chicago hasn’t lost a contest in the regular season or playoffs when leading after 40 minutes and tonight was no exception.
Minnesota’s Matt Dumba made things interesting with a high shot that beat goaltender Corey Crawford, but Sharp was able to regain Chicago’s two-goal edge:
Kane helped himself to the empty netter to bring him up to five goals and 10 points in eight playoff games. He also has 101 points in 101 career postseason contests.
Minnesota was eliminated by Chicago in 2013 and 2014. The Wild were naturally hoping that this year would be different, but after falling behind 2-0 in the second round series, they have a very tough road ahead of them.
The Blackhawks and Wild were great defensively in the first half of Game 2, but someone had to score eventually and in the end it was captain Jonathan Toews that broke the scoreless tie.
While Chicago was shorthanded, Marian Hossa stole the puck from Wild defenseman Ryan Suter and charged into Minnesota’s zone with Toews. Hossa feed the puck to his captain and Toews fired it at goaltender Devan Dubnyk.
Dubnyk made the initial save, but the puck flew up and hit his stick before heading to the line. Suter knocked it away just a moment too late:
Just before the second period ended, Patrick Kane gave Chicago some breathing room and once again Suter found himself on the wrong end of the play: