Last year, the Wild played well enough to win Game 1 in Chicago, lost in overtime and got smoked in Game 2.
I don’t think the Wild was nearly as bad as coach Mike Yeo portrayed tonight. I think he was doing a bit of postgame coaching because if the Wild actually thinks it played well and still lost 5-2, where does it go from here? It better fix its game for a Game 2 response. It’s kind of like his Game 5 reaction last round when the Wild was the victim of some questionable officiating and he bit his tongue. If the Wild actually thought it was cheated (sorry, Todd McLellan term), where does it go in Games 6 and 7?
The Wild lost this game for four reasons:
1. Jonas Brodin is a high-sticking madman suddenly, was in the bin twice tonight and the Hawks made Minnesota pay both times.
2. Its lack of finish in a one-sided second period (despite outshooting Chicago 17-3 and missing another 11 shots, including one hit pipe), the Wild watched Chicago turn its one-goal lead into a two.
3. Lost the special teams battle 2-nothing.
4. Patrick Kane is scary good.
The first two periods, it was a rumor Kane was even in the building. The third period, he decided to surface right after Clayton Stoner and Kyle Brodziak turned a 2-0 deficit into a 2-2 tie.
With the Madhouse on Madison eerily silent, Kane scored the eventual winning goal 1:26 after Brodziak’s tying goal (8:22 into the third) on a terrific play, then shot. Dangles through neutral zone, walks into the zone, cuts to his right on the backhand, turns toward the net and around Brodin and roofs a backhander because Ilya Bryzgalov wasn’t covering the short-side.
After the goal, Kane apparently yelled, "Showtime."
Kane then scored again with 3:13 left and Bryan Bickell an empty-netter, so the lopsided score isn't indicative of what actually happened on the ice.
Yeo said, “We had some good moments, but we're not happy with our game tonight. I felt that we didn't have everybody at the level we needed to be at, so we'll rectify that.”
Asked about Brodin and his poor play, Yeo said a handful of guys were below average at best. He didn’t know if that was because of the quick turnaround or because they didn’t get reset and refocused and adjusted for a new series.
“Obviously, it was a very winnable game for us,” Yeo said. “It didn’t have the feel of a game that we were going to win for sure. But to get yourself in that opportunity, you know, you’re starting to come on five-on-five, we were pretty good for a lot of points there, for a lot of periods of the game. But you’ve got to buckle down in those key moments and those key situations. We’ve been stronger than that lately, but this is nothing to hang our hat on. It’s about the next challenge in front of you.”
On Stoner, who was a physical menace and knocked Andrew Shaw out of the game with a lower-body injury, Yeo said, “I thought he was a difference maker and this is the way he's played all playoffs for us.”
On Bryz, Yeo said he didn’t have a problem with his game (and right now he has no choice to talk him up): “Obviously this a talented team that can capitalize and don't need 30 opportunities to put five in the net so we have to limit those quality opportunities.”
Bryzgalov gave up four goals on 21 shots.
Jason Pominville again can’t seem to find his game. Missing nets galore, although he set up a couple nice chances tonight.
In the first, the Wild had a chance to take a 1-0 lead when Nate Prosser connected with Zach Parise with a home-run pass near the far blue line. But on the shorthanded breakaway, Blackhawks speedy defenseman Nick Leddy, the 2009 Wild first-round pick, hustled back and impeded Parise’s shot with a swinging stick check.
That proved gigantic because 20 seconds later, Bickell, a Wild killer in last year’s playoffs, tipped Brent Seabrook’s shot past Bryzgalov for a 1-0 Blackhawks lead.
The Wild caught a break with 2:44 left in the period when Brandon Bollig appeared to make it 2-0 off a goalmouth scramble. But referee Dan O’Halloran ruled that he blew his whistle to stop play prior to the puck crossing the line.
The Wild had a chance to tie early in the second period, but Mikael Granlund, with no goalie in front of him, redirected a pass off the crossbar. It was the third time in the game the Wild hit iron. Heatley and Matt Moulson did the same in the first. Granlund missed some golden chances.
Here are some more quotes (transcribed by our stringer, Blake Schuster (@schustee19):
· It was a good play by Sharp to throw it over to my side. I had some time and space so I tried to cut through the middle. It was one of those plays where I was about to drop it to (Sharp) but I saw both defensemen kind of go to him so I just tried to get in on the backhand and made a good shot and it went in. It’s a good feeling.
· It’s not like I looked up and saw him go down. I wish I could say that, but it’s not the way it happened
On Kane’s backhander
· The thing I like about Kaner the best is the big stages, he always seems to put one in, whether he's back home in Buffalo in a big game, time and time again in the playoffs he scores goals and it seems like he wants that puck all the time. So, big goal, big third period for Kaner."
On getting outshot in five of seven playoff games so far:
· "You've got to give them credit as well. They're a good team and in the second round of playoffs, every team is going to be relentless and they're going to keep coming at you. So, they made their push. It's 2-2 in the third period. It's anybody's game. But what I liked the best was the way we responded once it was tied. I thought we played pretty good hockey down the stretch in the third, and that's something to learn going forward in the series. Minnesota's a great team. They're going to make it tough on us. It's going to be a heck of a series."
28 minutes, three shots allowed and two goals
· “A kick in the teeth is a little extreme. We've talked about it all along. There's going to be highs and lows. We did some good things. There's a lot of areas we can be better in, but it's a long series. We feel that if we're doing the right things over the length of a series, that's when we see the results we want.”
What's changed on PP from Blues series?
· I don’t think a lot. We just need to get through high shots and capitalize on our second opportunities I think. we were making a couple too many passes. Seeing Shaw go down … he’s a big net front for our first unit. Ben stepped up and had an opportunity to be on it.
· Two unlucky high sticks there, I don't know. I need to keep the stick on the ice there.
· It's not very fun to sit in the box.
· Honestly, I don’t even know how it went in.
· (do you hear when the crowd chants your name)
· Yeah, I could hear it.
· (you cool with it)
Yeah. It’s way better than booing me, if that’s what you’re saying. (smiles)
Blackhawks have availability at 12:30, Wild practices at 2 Saturday. Talk to ya after.