Welcome to Game 5, State of Hockey Legion!
Tonight, the Wild fights for its playoff life, down in the Western Conference Quarterfinals to the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-1. Sure, things look dire for the Wild, but the club has a history of clawing its way back from these situations. Ten years ago both of the franchise’s Stanley Cup Playoff series wins came after being in a 3-1 hole. In 2003, the Wild came back to defeat the heavily favored Colorado Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 after falling behind in the series, 3-1. So you know it is possible State of Hockey.
Minnesota will start the comeback with it’s own comeback story. Josh Harding, who left Game 4 with an undisclosed injury after the first period, will get the start tonight. The goaltender has started every game of the series, posting a 2.48 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. Darcy Kuemper will be Harding’s backup, as Niklas Backstrom is still unavailable with a lower-body injury.
Forward Mike Rupp will reenter the lineup tonight on the wing and will skate with Torrey Mitchell and Cal Clutterbuck. That means Jason Pominville will move to the wing alongside Kyle Brodziak and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
Out of the lineup as healthy scratches will be defensemen Nate Prosser and Brett Clark. Blueliner Clayton Stoner is out with an undisclosed injury. At forward, Zenon Konopka and Mike Rupp are out of the lineup.
The Wild wears its road whites with Wild-head logo, while the Hawks wear the traditional red sweaters.
Follow all the action socially via @mnwildLIVE on Twitter.
Let’s keep this thing going!
Period 1 - MIN 0, CHI 1
The Wild had several quality chances in the opening frame, but couldn't crack Corey Crawford, who made 10 saves in the period.
With the Wild trying to clear the zone, the puck took a bad bounce off the boards right onto the tape of Jonathan Toews. The center skated down the left wall and centered a pass to Marian Hossa, who fired a one-timer through the legs of Harding.
Minnesota played a strong opening road period, but need to start capitalizing on some of its opportunities. The team has 40 minutes to get things going.
Period 2 - MIN 1, CHI 4
The Wild got on the board in the middle frame, but the Blackhawks extended its lead heading into the final period.
Michael Frolik fired a shot from the left sidewall. The puck bounced off the side of the net and came off the back of the boards. Marcus Kruger picked up the loose puck, wrapped it around and threw it off of Harding's pad and into the net. Duncan Keith was given the second assist.
Marian Hossa was Johnny-on-the-spot for his second goal of the game. Brandon Saad found Kruger in the slot for a one-timer. Harding made the save, but Hossa crashed the net and slipped home the rebound on his backhand. After the goal, Darcy Kuemper replaced Harding in net.
The Wild got on the board with Torrey Mitchell's first of the playoffs. Kyle Brodziak found him cutting down the slot and Mitchell ripped a one-timer past Crawford. Marco Scandella picked up the second assist.
The Blackhawks responded immediately when Andrew Shaw took a bouncing puck off the back wall and buried it past Kuemper. Bryan Bickell took the initial shot, that missed the net, and Keith was credited with the second assist.
The Wild has a big task at hand, down 4-1 heading into the third.
Period 3 - MIN 1, CHI 5
Well it wasn't the ending that Wild fans were hoping for.
Patrick Sharp scored on a 5-on-3 power play to add to the Blackhawks lead. Sharp controlled a bouncing rebound and fired it over a scrambling Kuemper. Hossa and Jonathan Toews picked up assists on the goal.
The Wild played tough all season, but this wasn't Minnesota's year. The good news? We get to do it all over again next year. Remember, Wild.com will have continued Wild coverage throughout the summer. Thanks for sticking with us Wild fans, and we'll see you next season.
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