Tonight your Minnesota Wild looked to bring their magic number down a couple pegs against the Chicago Blackhawks. It is never easy to go into the windy city and come away with a win, and with the Wild missing key pieces Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter it would not be any easier.
Of course the Blackhawks were without Jonathon Toews tonight, so that's always helpful. Alas, it would not be enough for the Wild tonight as they would lose in a shootout to the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
The Wild won just 3 of 11 faceoffs in the first period yet Charlie Coyle managed to deflect a shot past Corey Crawford to give the Wild a 1 - 0 in the opening stanza. The Wild, despite the terrible faceoff percentage seemed to control the puck pretty well against a Blackhawks squad looking to break free of their 3-game losing streak.
The 2nd period the Hawks seemed to spring to life. Early in the middle frame they were buzzing around Ilya Bryzgalov and managed to poke a rebound past the Wild netminder. For Wild fans, the period would be marked by a very scary looking hit on Zach Parise courtesey of Brandon Bollig.
Parise was just inside the Hawks zone when Bollig checked him from behind. The replay looked like Bollig stuck an elbow directly into the back of the neck/upper back of Parise who went down in a lump and lay on the ice for some time. Parise would return to the game but that certainly does not forgive Bollig for the infraction.
Emilie has a breakdown of the hit here, give it a read and leave your comments on the hit.
The Blackhawks would take the lead early in the 3rd period when Bryan Bickell would roof his own rebound over Bryzgalov who was unable to recover from the initial shot. The Wild struggled to fight back in the game but the Hawks would not make it easy. Jared Spurgeon would make a nifty move to get around Brent Seabrook but would lift his backhand chance over the net.
With just under 2 minutes left in regulation Erik Haula would wrist a shot through the Chicago defender and Crawford would not be able to find the puck, tie game. The Wild and Hawks would exchange opportunities in the final moments of the regulation, but it was all for not and to overtime we go.
5 minutes of overtime happened, but not much else. Ryan Suter got a great chance on a bouncing feed from Mikko Koivu but he we unable to get his stick on it and the puck boucned harmlessly to the corner. So onto everyone's favorite specticle in sports, the shootout!
The Wild would not come out with the extra point tonight as nobody for the Wild was able to put one past Crawford, and Marian Hossa was able blast one through the glove of Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Wild did get a very important point out of the game, bringing their magic number down to 6. That is 3 wins from their final 5 games on the regular season and they will clinch their 2nd consecutive playoff spot after missing the post-season the previous 5 seasons.
Up next for the Wild, they will welcome the Pittsburgh Penguins to the X this Saturday.