Its too bad for the Minnesota Wild that they won’t have home ice advantage in any series they play. The Wild are now a perfect 5-0 at Exel Energy center, and have allowed only 6 goals at home. They evened up their series with the Chicago Blackhawks at 2 games apiece with a 4-2 win that followed up a 4-0 shutout in game 3.
It was certainly not a goaltending clinic as both teams scored some bad goals that should be stopped 99.9% of the time, but the Wild did enough to overcome those masked men mistakes.
Super-pest Matt Cooke made his return to the Wild lineup after serving his 7 game suspension for kneeing Tyson Barrie, and he made an immediate impact by setting up the first goal. Cooke created a turnover and then went to the front of the net after dropping the puck to Justin Fontaine. Fontaine’s wrist shot got through the traffic and over the shoulder of Corey Crawford 7:24 into the game.
Patrick Sharp, who had been all but invisible in the first three games of the series, took a pass from Marian Hossa at full flight, and went wide around the Wild defender and from a bad angle got a shot through the wickets of Ilya Bryzgalov to tie the score at 1 very late in the first.
The poor goaltending continued in the second period, as Jason Pominville banked one in off Crawford from directly behind the net after a nice net drive by Ryan Suter to restore the Wild’s one goal lead.
It was Minnesota’s game 7 hero Nino Niederreiter who put the Wild ahead, this time for good, 44 seconds later. He burst down the wing and put a wrist shot past Crawford from outside the faceoff dot.
Jared Spurgeon added some insurance in the third, after Mikko Koivu‘s pass across was bobbled initially but he was able to settle it down and put a wrister over a diving Crawford early in the third period to cap the scoring.
Chicago could get no closer, and the Wild will head back even with a chance to pull the upset, but will need to win one on the road, where they have been pretty awful save for the game 7 win in Denver.