Wild Must Respond In Game 3
Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo believes Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks was there for the taking. The only problem was his players couldn't muster the response needed against the defending Stanley Cup champion.
The Blackhawks were once again spurred by a late offensive surge, scoring two third-period goals, on the way to a 4-1 victory on Sunday at United Center which gives Chicago a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
"The one thing that was clear to me right from the start, and I'm surprised we didn't see more of it [in Game 1], was we didn't have the legs [Sunday]," Yeo said. "You could see it in our puck support, can see it when we weren't taking two or three strides and we were making a lot of stationary plays in a wide stance.
"We've got extra time before Game 3, so hopefully we can straighten that out."
Game 3 is tonight at Xcel Energy Center (9 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS2).
The Wild lost the opening two games to the Blackhawks during the 2012-13 Western Conference Quarterfinal Round series before winning Game 3 at home. The Blackhawks won the series in five games.
Yeo doesn't see any similarities, however, between the first two losses last spring and those his team endured Friday and Sunday.
"There are positives; we're not sitting here saying we're happy being down 2-0 but I'm not saying this feels like last year either," Yeo said. "I feel we played better in these two games and I feel more confident that we can get back into this thing."
Yeo expects a lot more energy and jump when his team takes the ice for Game 3. The Wild is 3-0 on home ice in the playoffs, outscoring the opposition 8-3.
"We know we have to be ready to go when we get home," Yeo said. "We have to make sure we get the rest that we need and then make sure we do what we have to do. In our last series [against the Colorado Avalanche], I thought we did a great job staying positive despite the fact that we were down 2-0. We still believed we could win and that, to me, is the No. 1 thing."
The Wild overcame 2-0 and 3-2 series deficits and four one-goal deficits in Game 7 against the Avalanche before Nino Niederreiter's overtime goal gave the team a series-clinching 5-4 win.
"When I look at these last two games, I know we can be better, we're not that far off," Yeo said. "We're a play or two each game away from being at least in a split right now. I think there are positives in that. The fact that we've been a good home team should bring confidence."
Wild left wing Zach Parise, who has one assist in two games after scoring three goals and 10 points in seven games against the Avalanche, feels his team hasn't been very sharp in this second-round series.
"I think the way we played [Sunday] wasn't good enough, definitely not good enough to beat the Blackhawks," Parise said. "I thought we were slow and weren't aggressive. We didn't play as well as we did in previous games and I'm not sure of the reason.
"We do feel good playing at home, we've played well there and have shown that we can win, but the bottom line is we know we have to play a lot better."
Yeo acknowledged that against Colorado his team never allowed the deficits to affect its play and he anticipates a similar reaction in front of the hometown faithful.
"This is a good team we played," Yeo said. "You can't let them get in your head. They found a way to win two games. Now, let's go win our two games at home. We can't get caught in the big picture here because we're right where we were last series. And I know that we're playing a different team but the last team that we played was pretty good too. The next game is our only thought, only challenge."