After two tough losses in Chicago that would put the Minnesota Wild 0-8 during the playoffs at the United Center, they hoped to come home to Saint Paul, and beat the Chicago Blackhawks at the Xcel Energy Center.
The homestand began on May 5, where the Wild would drop game three, the final score being 1-0. This put them down 0-3 in the series, and in desperation mode to keep their “Cinderella” like season alive. After struggling in the first round against the Nashville Predators, Corey Crawford was able to shutout the Wild, with a total of thirty saves. Despite a slump earlier in the year, he looked just like his old self during Tuesday’s game, making save after save on the Wild’s numerous chances. The Blackhawks were not in control offensively for a majority of the game, other than at the end of the first period. But, like any great team, they were able to convert on one of their few chances, and that goal stuck, allowing them to get the win in game three. The goal was scored by no other than Patrick “Showtime” Kane, with the assists going to Andrew Shaw and Patrick Sharp. The loss was absolutely heartbreaking for the Wild and their fans because they had a scoring chance almost every shift, but the puck would never find the back of the net. Flashing back to the regular season, the Wild’s powerplay was an absolute dud, as they hardly put any shots on net during their three chances. Frustration was evident for the Wild throughout the whole game, as they were missing the net left and right, depriving them of what could have been great scoring chances. The Wild would need to figure out a way to score on Crawford and shutdown the Blackhawks’ snipers in game four if they wanted to come out with a win, and keep the series alive.
Thursday night began game four, in which the Wild desperately needed to win, so they would not be swept by the Chicago Blackhawks. The first period was a constant battle for both teams, but Brent Seabrook was able to net one for the Blackhawks about halfway through, giving his team the 1-0 lead. Luck, once again, was not in Minnesota’s favor, as a bouncing puck caused Ryan Suter to miss a wide open net that would have allowed the Wild to strike first. The Wild completely recalibrated for the second period, coming out looking like the better team. Unfortunately for the Wild, Nino Niederreiter received a penalty, and Andrew Shaw was able to score a gritty power play goal to give his team to 2-0 lead. In desperation mode, the Wild were finally able to find the back of the net toward the end of the second period, when Erik Haula scored his first goal of this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. In need for a game-tying goal, the Wild started out the third period strong. Unfortunately for them, the Blackhawks took a two goal lead again when Devan Dubnyk was forced to play a guessing game with Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell during a two-on-one, and he let in a goal that barely trickled over the line. The game became even more eventful when the Wild pulled Devan Dubnyk with just under four minutes left while on a powerplay. The powerplay allowed Marian Hossa to clear the puck, and it would go right down broadway into the empty net, giving the Blackhawks the 4-1 lead. The Wild were not dead yet, though, and Jared Spurgeon scored a goal to make it a 4-2 game. With an empty net and their season on the line, the Wild continued to attack, when Nino Niederreiter scored to make it a 4-3 game with 1:27 left. The last minute was an absolute nail-biter, but Crawford continued to stop the chances, and eventually the buzzer sounded, ending the Minnesota Wild’s season. Although the season is now in the books for the Wild, they demonstrated a “fighting till the end” mentality, one that will hopefully win them a Stanley Cup soon.
With the series win, the Blackhawks will move onto the Western Conference Finals. Depending on who wins the other Western Conference series, they will either be facing the Anaheim Ducks or the Calgary Flames.