The Wild's forecheck had the Chicago Blackhawks tapping out in submission. If you were looking for a complete 60 minute game from the Wild, Tuesday's game was it. Chicago came in to Tuesday's game reeling a bit after losing the last two of three, and eight of last 14. Joel Quenneville was attempting to win his 300th NHL coaching win of his career.
Matt Cooke has been shut down for remainder of the season and Jordan Schroeder was called up to replace him in the line-up alongside Charlie Coyle and opposite Nino Niederreiter.
The Wild applied solid pressure from the drop of the puck. Mikko Koivu got the scoring going in the first period after back-handing a rebound past Blackhawks' goaltender Corey Crawford at the 7:40 mark. Minnesota didn't relent. Marco Scandella found Jason Zucker with an 80 foot stretch pass for a breakaway as Zucker roofed it top shelf with a back-hander after he burned by Duncan Keith. Zucker's speed killed the Blackhawks all night. For the first time since Marian Gaborik left the Wild for New York, you saw the Wild actively trying for the flip-pass to spring Zucker on a breakaway. The Wild did out-shoot the Blackhawks by a 11-9 margin in a solid period for the home team.
In the second period, fans were hoping the Wild could come out and up their battle level as they expected the Blackhawks to come out with a little push. In fact, the Wild did just that, but the Blackhawks flattened out. Minnesota out-shot Chicago by a 24-5 margin. Crawford had to be amazing to stop another breakaway for Zucker and stop the rebound chance from Scandella. He swallowed everything up that came his way, except for a Mikael Granlund one-timer that buzzed by him and went in off the post. That would be Mikael Granlund's first goal since returning from wrist surgery.
Minnesota entered the final stanza with a 3-0 lead and having thoroughly dominated them for two periods. Devan Dubnyk hadn't been tested all game long and just gobbled up everything that came his direction. He made the one tough save look easy. He got his third shutout in eight games since joining the Wild and has been the backstop as Minnesota has now gone 6-1-1 since the trade. Minnesota ended the game with 43 shots on goal and another two points in the standings.
Marco Scandella finished with a career high eight shots and one assist. Mikko Koivu had a goal and an assist with seven shots on goal. Ryan Suter had a respectable 26:28 TOI and his diminished minutes continues to be a trend since the all-star game break.
It was a great win and a great confidence builder for a team trying to scratch and crawl back in to the Western Conference playoff race.