The Minnesota Wild have been great in front of their home crowd, and that trend continued on Tuesday night as Ilya Bryzgalov recorded the shutout against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.
The game was scoreless through 40 minutes, as neither team really generated much in terms of scoring chances.
The Wild exploded for 4 goals in the third to break the game open and send the hometown fans into a frenzy and narrow the Blackhawks series lead to 2-1 in the process.
Erik Haula converted a miraculous feed from Justin Fontaine to open the scoring 1:41 into the third. The pass was an aerial feed across about 40 feet through 3 Blackhawks defenders that landed right on the stick of the Minnestoa Wild rookie at the lip of the crease for what should have been the “highlight of the night” on every sportscast in North America (but wasn’t).
Two and a half minutes later, Mikael Granlund doubled the lead, feathering a nice backhand from the slot past Corey Crawford. Zach Parise added a power play goal late in the period, tipping a Ryan Suter point shot off the post and then collecting the rebound and slamming it home. Granlund added the empty net goal for his second of the game to erase any doubt with just over a minute left.
There were only 37 shots total in the game, when many teams have been putting that number up by themselves in this playoff season. The Wild did a good job in bottling up the talented Blackhawks forwards.
The Wild move to 4-0 at home in these playoffs, while Bryzgalov got his first win in his last 9 playoff starts. This series is following the same pattern as last year’s first round series that saw the Blackhawks win the first two in Chicago and then lose the first in Minnesota before winning the next two to end the series in 5 games.
The Minnesota Wild will be looking to change that pattern on Friday night when they host Game 4.