Every night during the playoffs, we will wrap up all the exciting action and tell you what you need to know about the 2013-14 Stanley Cup playoffs. Welcome to What You Need To Know.
Wild win 4-0 | CHI leads series 2-1 | Game 4 Fri.
Minnesota Wild: That is pretty much how the Wild want to and need to play. They were content to play a quieter, safer game against a Blackhawks team that's so explosive. For two periods it looked more like a stalemate but then they broke it open with a huge period when their skill players started to shine through a bit more. As a whole they did very well with the team defense, giving the Blackhawks little in the way of penetration into the scoring areas or follow-up attempts. They took the sting out of the Hawks. They gave Chicago just 19 shots on goal in a 60-minute game and though they only generated 18 themselves, it had to pretty close to how they drew it up, a perfect example of Wild hockey.
Chicago Blackhawks: It almost looked like the Blackhawks thought it would be easier than it was. They were a bit passive in the offensive approach all game with a lot of dump-and-chase instead of the clean entries we see them excel with on a usual basis. Not to mention they were spending a lot of this game chasing the puck or just straight defending as the Wild were getting a lot of zone time. To the Blackhawks' credit, it wasn't leading to anything in the first two periods but still, the Blackhawks are a team used to playing with the puck and they didn't do it that much in this game.
Play of the Game: The Wild didn't score a lot until the final moments on Tuesday night but the goals they did score were things of absolute beauty. We shared Erik Haula's goal over here but this goal from fellow Finn Mikael Granlund was just about as gorgeous. The passing from Zach Parise to Jason Pominville then Granlund and his great finish is a lot of fun to watch.
Player of the Game: There wasn't one guy that really stuck out in this game for either team, at least until late. We're going to give the nod to Granlund as he finished with another goal (albeit on an empty net) but had four shots, three hits and a couple of takeaways too. If he's going to really get going, the Wild are in business. Of course Ilya Bryzgalov deserves a big mention for his shutout because he was coming under a lot of fire and this was a huge moment for him. Nino Niederreiter was also very, very good even though he didn't get a point until the assist on the empty-netter.
Turning Point: For the first half of this game, things were pretty dull. It's OK to say it, it wasn't fantastically entertaining hockey but the Blackhawks did turn up the heat just before the close of the second period. Getting out of that period unscathed was key for the Wild and then they came out in the third with a purpose and put four on the board.
GIF of the Game: The good news: He had front-row seats to see his Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs. The bad news: That gave him a front-row seat to the Wild celebration and the cheering fans around him. All this is missing is the sad music (via @MyRegularFace).
Canadiens win 4-2 | MON leads series 2-1 | Game 4 Thur.
Montreal Canadiens: Once again it was another strong start for the Canadiens as they built up an early lead and unlike Game 2, they held on, though it did get a bit nervous with another late Bruins charge. The Canadiens aren't getting a ton of offensive zone time or a cycle but they have been passing well. Each of the goals in this game (aside from the empty-netter) were all the result of some great passes. They are changing the point of attack on the Bruins and their defense to crease space. Defensively they're doing well, too, keeping life relatively easy on Carey Price and when that's the case, he's going to be the stellar goalie they've come to expect. Even though they held a lead for almost the whole game, at one point up 3-0, the flow of the game stayed pretty close to even. There are few qualms the Habs will have with this one.
Boston Bruins: So much for having the book figured out on Carey Price. For the most part, it was a pretty even game but the Bruins had a couple of breakdowns that ended up playing a huge difference. Once it was P.K. Subban breaking out of the penalty box for a clear breakaway, another was a blocked shot that led to a Dale Weise breakaway, both goals. They weren't complete mental breakdowns as much as poor luck but either way, Habs players got behind the Bruins defense scot-free. As to solving Price, well the Bruins kept trying to go high but they weren't getting much traffic in his way to obscure his vision and thus were having a tough time scoring. Not that it's a big surprise but the Canadiens are giving the Bruins a lot of trouble in this series and that's even with the physicality being ramped up a notch on Tuesday.
Player of the Game: Oh sure, Price was excellent for the Canadiens but how can it not be P.K. Subban again? He was a force and for a third straight game he had two points, and he's a defenseman. He has been dynamic in this series and a boatload of fun to watch (unless you're a Bruins fan). Vanek also had a tremendous game, even if he did miss some time after a friendly fire hit from Subban. Of course Price was fantastic too.
Turning Point: Early in the first period the Bruins were slow to start but then they set up shop in the Canadiens zone. They were left to ice the puck a couple of times but still eventually made it out unscathed. Once they got the zone clearance they got a line change and that next shift the Canadiens were scoring the game's first goal.
GIF of the Game: When Dale Weise was sprung for a breakaway that led to a goal, Subban was preoccupied on the bench with tying down his uniform. Naturally he wanted to celebrate the Habs taking a 3-0 lead so he did what he could: jump up and down (via @MyRegularFace).