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 wins 4-2 | Series tied 2-2 | Game 5 Sun.
Chicago Blackhawks: The Blackhawks were outclassed in pretty much all facets of the game. Considering they're the defending champs and once had a 2-0 lead in this series, that's more than a little surprising. Chicago sometimes has enough skill to get outplayed and still score, but Corey Crawford has to be extra sharp in those instances. Though he's been good for much of the postseason, Crawford did not have his best in Game 4. Getting outshot as badly as the Blackhawks were isn't on Crawford though. The Blackhawks' lines were repeatedly jumbled and few combinations seemed to work. Chicago's best offensive players with the exception of Patrick Sharp didn't get much going and the depth couldn't make up for it. After getting thoroughly outplayed in Game 4, the Blackhawks have to find a way to get things back on track as they head back to Chicago having watched their 2-0 series lead erased.
Minnesota Wild: When playing in the State of Hockey, the Wild cannot be beaten. They have won all five games in the postseason at home and most in dominant fashion. They were absolutely tremendous in Game 4 and just kept pulling away from the second period on. They took advantage of a few weak goals, but more than anything they bottled up the Blackhawks and owned the puck. The Wild finished with a Fenwick for percentage of 62.7 percent with the score close according to ExtraSkater.com. That's incredibly impressive. With 57 total attempted shots and 31 getting on net, the Wild had the pressure on Chicago almost the entire game, completely changing the complexion of this series with it now tied 2-2.
Play of the Game: Jared Spurgeon's insurance tally in the third period was probably the prettiest goal of each of the four the Wild scored. He showed such skill in settling a pass from Mikko Koivu and then roofing a perfect shot past Corey Crawford. That made it 4-2 and tightened the Wild's grip on the game.
Player of the Game: Ryan Suter played literally more than half the game, notched two assists and finished a plus-2. The Wild did so many things well defensively and a lot of that runs through Suter. When a player plays as much as Suter does and is as effective as he is, the Wild are so much tougher to play against, even for a team as experienced and skilled as Chicago. Minnesota's defense as a whole did such a great job keeping Chicago's best forwards in check. Honorable mention goes to Ilya Bryzgalov who made several key stops with the score still close and ensured the Wild's possession dominance wasn't wasted.
Turning Point: Minnesota's Nino Niederreiter scored just 44 seconds after Michal Handzus tied the game to the Blackhawks. The Wild never looked back from that point on, completely perplexing the Blackhawks. Ilya Bryzgalov made sure to keep a lid on the net, while that was the second consecutive soft goal allowed by Corey Crawford. Minnesota absolutely dominated possession from that point forward.
GIF of the Game: This game summed up in one GIF via @myregularface:
Rangers win 5-1 | PIT leads series 3-2 | Game 6 Sun.
Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins had good moments in the game, but it was far from enough to keep the Rangers from controlling much of the contest. Marc-Andre Fleury was not his sharpest, but this is hardly on him. The Penguins were far from consistent in defending in front of him. With the opportunity to end the series on home ice, the Penguins failed to go for the kill. Now the door is open for the Rangers to climb back into the series.
New York Rangers: A dominant first period from the Rangers in which they outshot the Penguins 17-9, registering more shots on goal than they did in the entirety of Game 4, set the tone for the rest of Friday night's contest. New York took a 2-0 lead into the second period and when the Penguins looked like they were poised to make a comeback, the Rangers came out and scored a pair more. Special teams were clicking as well as the Rangers scored twice on the power play and had a couple of terrific penalty kills including a five-on-three kill in the second period that clamped down any chance of a Penguins comeback. That was such a huge effort by the Rangers with their backs against the wall and they have a chance to turn the tide of the series on home ice.
Play of the Game: It may have come in a losing effort, but the most skillful play of the game came off the stick of Evgeni Malkin. With the Rangers leading 2-1 at that point, Malkin took a pass from Kris Letang and did the rest himself, breaking through the Rangers defense, collecting a rebound off his own shot, spinning and slipping a puck past Henrik Lundqvist. Not a lot went right for the Penguins in this game, but this goal was just terrific.
Player of the Game: Derick Brassard was all over the ice for the Rangers and ended up scoring two big goals for the Rangers including the goal that made it 3-1 after Malkin's goal. The Rangers needed a lift to make sure the Penguins didn't seize any momentum. He also added an assist The Rangers' third line with Brassard, Benoit Pouliot and Mats Zuccarello has been one of its best throughout the postseason. Brassard himself now has three goals in the playoffs and had one of his best games in the team's most crucial moment. A special honorable mention goes to Martin St. Louis who played a solid game despite the fact he was playing with a heavy heart. It's hard to imagine what he must have been feeling, but his presence undoubtedly gave the Rangers a boost.
Turning Point: Malkin's goal seemed to harden the Rangers. Before Malkin scored, the Penguins were owning the second period at that point. Even for a short period after that goal, the Pens were still controlling the play. Then Brassard scored the goal that made it 3-1 and seemed to put any comeback hopes for Pittsburgh on ice. Ryan McDonagh scored 50 seconds later to put the Penguins in too deep a hole to recover from. Malkin's goal may have been the wakeup call the Rangers needed in a game that they had dominated up to that point. With the score that close, they got back to what made them successful earlier in the game.
GIF of the Game: Art for beginners with Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma.