Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now

Chicago at Minnesota

Wild's barrage on Crawford beats Blackhawks in Game 4

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild have turned their home ice into a deafening, discouraging place for opponents to play in the playoffs.

For the second straight game, they dominated the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Jason Pominville scored in the second period off the back of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford's skate, and the Wild beat the Blackhawks 4-2 on Friday night to even their Western Conference semifinal at two games apiece.

"It's been fun to play here. I don't know what it is, but we have to find a way to bring that on the road as well," said Jared Spurgeon, whose third-period goal gave the Wild a cushion for the final stretch while the fans cheered and chanted louder and louder.

"They play hard in their building, and they're good in their building, and they check well so it's tough to get momentum in here," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Matt Cooke returned from his seven-game kneeing suspension to give the Wild a jolt, assisting on Justin Fontaine's opening goal, and Nino Niederreiter also scored.

"I think I should have fresh legs. I have to go out there and lead the way. Hopefully my energy is contagious," Cooke said.

Yes, it was. Cooke had a team-high five hits -- the Blackhawks were only credited with seven -- to help the Wild hold an intensity advantage from start to finish.

"He brings a physical presence," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. "You never know what he's going to do, so you've got to be aware of him out there."

Crawford made 27 saves, but he gave up four goals for the second straight game.

"We've just got to play the way we can: Move the puck and play with speed and skill, make the right plays at the right time," Crawford said. "Everyone's got confidence in everyone else in this room, so we've just got to play together."

Patrick Sharp snapped out of his slump with his second postseason goal and Michal Handzus also scored, but the Blackhawks again found themselves unable to establish a consistent attack against the Wild's stifling defense.

The teams will return to Chicago for Game 5 on Sunday night and be back in Minnesota for Game 6 on Tuesday night.

Quenneville shuffled up the lines, moving Ben Smith to the first group with captain Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell and bringing defenseman Nick Leddy back to the lineup in a search for more speed and flow. The Wild wouldn't let that happen.

Leading the NHL in takeaways in the playoffs and allowing an average of fewer than 21 shots on goal per game in the series, the Wild improved to 5-0 at home this postseason with a 16-5 goal differential. The franchise playoff record at Xcel Energy Center was a mere 5-10 prior to this year.

Sharp, coming off a 34-goal, 44-assist season, got his first goal of the series. But the Blackhawks managed just 20 shots on Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov after stressing the importance of testing him more.

Cooke set Fontaine up for a slap shot on a 2-on-1 rush early in the game, and the puck sailed over the glass. Fontaine buried his next chance, a bad-angle attempt from the front edge of the circle that skidded through Michal Rozsival's legs after Cooke swiped the puck from the defenseman.

After two full periods of trap-filled, tight-checking play in Game 3, the pace in this one was quick from the start. The fans resumed their sing-song jeering of Crawford's last name from the last game, and the chants grew louder throughout the night.

The buzz in the building was killed for a bit when Sharp, whose struggles prompted a move down to a new third line with Handzus and Marian Hossa, caught defenseman Clayton Stoner stuck in the offensive zone on a turnover by Niederreiter and beat Mikko Koivu to slip a wrister between Bryzgalov's pads with 38 seconds left before the break.

But the Wild roared right back in the second period with goals by Pominville and Niederreiter to bracket the score by Handzus. Bryzgalov did his part by sticking his pad out to stop Sharp's breakaway with a thud.

"That was huge for us," left wing Zach Parise said.

As was all that noise from the crowd.

Notes

Spurgeon's goal was just the fourth in 42 opportunities against the Blackhawks in the playoffs, the best penalty-kill percentage in the league. ... The Bickell-Toews-Smith line totaled just three shots. ... Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, drafted from Louisville the night before, took in his first hockey game.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
Veteran Minnesota goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has allowed just two goals over the last two games, both Wild victories. (USATSI)
Veteran Minnesota goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has allowed just two goals over the last two games, both Wild victories. (USATSI)

Scoreboard
Chicago (2-2)1102
Minnesota  (2-2) «1214
Three Stars
J. Spurgeon
MIN


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
M. Scandella
MIN


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 0
M. Cooke
MIN


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 1
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
07:24 - Justin Fontaine (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: Cooke
19:21 - Patrick Sharp (2), Wrist Shot. Assist: Hossa, Rozsival
2ND PERIOD
03:51 - Jason Pominville (2), Wrist Shot. Assist: Suter, Parise
06:28 - Michal Handzus (1), Tip-In. Assist: Seabrook, Hossa
07:12 - Nino Niederreiter (3), Snap Shot. Assist: Coyle, Spurgeon
3RD PERIOD
03:47Power Play - Jared Spurgeon (3), Wrist Shot. Assist: Koivu, Suter
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
07:43Morin, 2 min, Slashing
13:49Koivu, 2 min, Holding the stick
2ND PERIOD
12:02Smith, 2 min, Delaying Game
17:13Bollig, 2 min, Boarding
17:49Spurgeon, 2 min, Elbowing
3RD PERIOD
45.0Keith, 2 min, Hooking
03:28Rozsival, 2 min, Closing Hand on Puck
Shots On Goal
 123T
CHI49720
MIN718631
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Corey Crawford57:52274
Ilya Bryzgalov60:00182
Game Information
Attendance - 19405
Referees - Dave Jackson, Dan O'Rourke
Linesmen - Derek Nansen, Derek Amell
 
Other Games
NYR 5 Final
Pitt 1