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RandBall: Wild's third line shines in Game 4

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • May 10, 2014 - 12:17 AM

Yu Darvish flirted with a perfect game tonight before it tumbled away in controversy.

Where are we going with this? The Wild's third line ... that third line had a perfect game in Minnesota's 4-2 victory, as far as we're concerned.

The energy, physical play, speed and ability to turn all of it into great offense or defense ... crazy good. Erik Haula. Justin Fontaine ... and Matt Cooke. If there was any doubt about his importance ... now there is no doubt.

They were part of a near-perfect third period, too. We kept waiting for the high-flying Blackhawks to have a real surge. It never really materialized. That was as impressive as any goal.

Momentum, though, could have turned for good in the other direction at several points, and both are directly tied to goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. He left in a softie from a bad angle late in the first period, a goal that seemed to suck the life out of the building and the Wild. But Minnesota came back strong, eventually retaking leads of 2-1 and 3-2.

At that 3-2 mark, Minnesota had a non-goal reviewed and ruled still no goal. Not long after, Chicago had a breakaway. Giving up that many leads is tough -- just ask Colorado from Game 7. But Bryzgalov stayed true and hugged the post with an extended pad, thwarting the Blackhawks and preserving the precious lead. It was never tied again, of course.

Bryz is the ultimate streaky goalie. You never quite know what you're going to get, but you can get game-saving plays like that.

The win makes the Wild 5-0 at home in the playoffs. Coach Mike Yeo opened his postgame remarks by lauding the crowd, and he wasn't just blowing smoke. From the constant serenades of Corey Crawford to the roars of the third period, fans were relentless.  

We're stunned this series is 2-2 after the way the first two games went. We're even more stunned that we're starting to believe what Yeo said postgame: "We're not here to just try to make a series of it."

The Wild is here to win. And Minnesota just might.

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