Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks reacts to a hit by Zach Parise #11 and Jason Pominville #29 of the Minnesota Wild during the first period in Game Three of the Second Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 6, 2014 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota.
The Chicago Blackhawks had an opportunity to grab a 3-0 series lead on Tuesday night, but a four goal period by the Minnesota Wild ended those hopes as they jumped back into the series with a 4-0 win.
Mikael Granlund scored two goals in the third period to help pace the victory. Erik Haula and Zach Parise also added goals, and Ilya Bryzgalov made 19 saves in the shutout victory.
The scoring chances came few and far between during the opening stages of the first period, and it largely stayed that way. Even when the Blackhawks picked up an early penalty as Niklas Hjalmarsson was sent off for hooking, the Wild still couldn’t manage a single shot on goal, and the power play went by the wayside with the game still scoreless.
The Blackhawks got a power play of their own a few minutes later, but it was short-lived as Jonathan Toews was sent off after taking down Kyle Brodziak on a short-handed rush up the ice. Once again, the Wild weren’t able to get a single shot on goal, and the Hawks’ defense continued to shine.
Neither team seemed able to get their skates underneath them even as the period approaches its midpoint, but the Hawks did get one good chance. Marian Hossa and Marcus Kruger came into the zone on a 2-on-1 rush, but Hossa’s pass across the ice was knocked away by Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter.
As the first period came to an end, the Blackhawks got another power play on a Dany Heatley slashing penalty, but the Hawks couldn’t make anything happen as the horn sounded.
In the early stages of the second period, both teams started to pick up the offensive tempo a bit. The Blackhawks had a great chance when Hjalmarsson blasted a shot from the point that Ilya Bryzgalov couldn’t handle, but Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa weren’t able to force home the rebound as the game remained scoreless.
Ultimately, the game slowed back down as both teams settled into a pattern of trying to stop plays in the neutral zone, and despite the Blackhawks edging out the Wild in shots on goal by a margin of 8-5, the two teams remained tied at 0-0 after two periods of play.
In the opening minutes of the third period, the tempo started to slowly pick back up again, and the Wild were able to take advantage as they scored the first goal of the game. On the play, Patrick Kane lost his coverage assignment as Erik Haula broke for the net, and Justin Fontaine floated in a perfect saucer pass that Haula one-timed past Crawford to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.
Just a few minutes later, the Wild executed a tremendous passing play to extend theird lead to 2-0. Zach Parise brought the puck into the zone and quickly moved it to Jason Pominville. The Blackhawks' defense suffered a breakdown in the middle of the zone with Brent Seabrook overcommitting to the wrong side of the ice, and Pominville took advantage as he found Justin Fontaine open on the rush, and he flipped a shot past Crawford to make it a 2-0 game.
The Blackhawks did play stronger defense in the middle stages of the period, but their offense didn't seem to follow suit. Several of their scoring chances were disrupted as soon as they got into the offensive zone, and they allowed several rushes going the other way as they struggled to get back into the game.
Finally in the closing minutes, the Hawks got a couple of good chances, but Bryzgalov was able to make key stops. Sheldon Brookbank blasted a shot from the point, and Toews had a great chance from right in front of the net, but both shots were stopped before any damage could be done.
With about three and a half minutes to go in the game, the Blackhawks hindered their comeback chances as Johnny Oduya was sent to the penalty box for a hooking minor. For the first time in eight playoff games against the Hawks, the Wild finally took advantage and scored to ice the game. Zach Parise deflected Ryan Suter's shot from the point, and after it bounced off the post, Parise popped in the rebound and made it a 3-0 game.
The Blackhawks will look to bounce back on Friday night when the two teams play in Game 4. The contest begins at 8:30pm Central time, and can be seen on NBCSN.