In the 2014 postseason, Minnesota Wild forward Erik Haula made a name for himself with strong play against the Chicago Blackhawks. He’ll get a chance to do so again starting with Game 2 on Sunday.
The Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff reports that Haula will make his 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs debut with Justin Fontaine injured. It appears as though Haula may line up with Matt Cooke and Kyle Brodziak.
Again, the Blackhawks will be all-too-familiar with the 24-year-old’s work.
The Finn scored three goals and two assist for five points in Minnesota’s competitive six-game series with the Blackhawks. One of those tallies was a game-winner:
He hasn’t made much of an impact at the NHL level outside of that great work against Chicago, which probably explains why he wasn’t able to crack the Wild lineup before Game 2 (it doesn’t help his cause that Minnesota’s become increasingly deep at the forward position, mind you).
To state the obvious, the Wild would be overjoyed if Haula can make history repeat itself … although a series win would be a welcome twist.
The Minnesota Wild will be without forward Justin Fontaine on Sunday.
Fontaine left Game 1 with 8:49 remaining in the second period due to a lower body injury and did not return.
Wild coach Mike Yeo would not say who would replace Fontaine in Game 2.
The 27-year-old has a goal and an assist in six playoff games while averaging 10:45 in time on ice.
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.
Jake Allen didn’t have the kind of start one would expect with his team on the brink of elimination.
Allen gave up a shorthanded marker to Zach Parise at 7:14 of the first period from a horrible angle.
“The young guy is learning, we got to stick with him,” Ken Hitchcock told Brian Engblom during a stoppage in play.
It didn’t take long for Hitchcock to change his mind.
At 11:19 of the second, Justin Fontaine beat Allen five-hole on a shot he should’ve had.
Hitchcock had seen in enough replacing Allen with Brian Elliott.
Elliott has not played in the series with his last appearance coming on April 11.
Allen allowed two goals on 13 shots.
Elliott’s last playoff action came during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 when the Blues lost in six games of the first round to the L.A. Kings.
With Justin Fontaine in the box for tripping, Zach Parise opened the scoring with his second of the playoffs.
Matt Cooke started the play by causing Kevin Shattenkirk to turn the puck over at the Wild blue line.
Parise then beat Blues’ starter Jake Allen from a bad angle.
It makes one wonder…
Parise is the sixth player in franchise history to score a shorthanded goal in the playoffs.
Minnesota is 2-0 in the series when scoring first.