Jason Zucker’s first career playoff goal came 2:15 into overtime tonight as the Wild took a 3-2 Game 3 victory from the Chicago Blackhawks.
Still trailing the series 2 games to 1, it was a huge win for the Wild, which got a late scare with 2:46 left from Duncan Keith, who teed up a goal to force overtime after the Wild went into a defensive shell the final seven or eight minutes.
The Wild attacked and attacked all game, outshooting the Blackhawks 37-27 and outhitting them 34-13. But Zach Parise, who gave the Wild a 2-1 lead 3:09 into the third, said the Wild got too passive as it just went into an almost natural prevent defense mode that almost cost them.
But in overtime, Devin Setoguchi came to the bench and Pierre-Marc Bouchard jumped on. Bouchard said Tom Gilbert sent him a puck and immediately a 3-on-2 began. Bouchard eventually put the puck behind the net for Matt Cullen, who was tripped by Andrew Shaw.
No call, so Cullen just reached with his right hand and passed in front for Zucker, and the 21-year-old who was recalled for the season finale buried it shortside. Zucker, who missed some shifts in the third because he was banged-up, showed he was completely healthy. Just jumped right into the glass for a mob scene in front of an electrified arena.
“Just trying to get the puck on net and it just happened to go in for me,” Zucker said of the biggest goal of his career.
Huge win. Game 4 is Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. There will be at least a Game 5 in Chicago on Thursday. Time unknown yet.
Lots of coverage in Monday’s Star Tribune, so please check that out. I will be on Rosen’s Sports Sunday tonight on Ch. 4 at 10:35 p.m. and KFAN at 9 a.m. Monday.
Also Monday, there may be some Jonas Brodin news. The NHL will announce the Calder finalists. Tuesday will be the Norris finalists, so we should definitely have some Ryan Suter news that day.
Suter only logged 32 minutes, 23 seconds today; Brodin only 28:26. They should do pushups.
Lots of big efforts on the ice tonight.
Bouchard scored a goal and assist and had four shots. Coach Mike Yeo said it’s the best game Bouchard has played for him. Cullen was great. Cal Clutterbuck set a physical tone with eight hits. Devin Setoguchi had seven and five shots. Mikko Koivu won 15 of 20 faceoffs.
Kyle Brodziak was great and had his first playoff point. Zach Parise scored his 22nd career playoff goal, an assist from Charlie Coyle after the big rook won a board battle with Michal Rozsival.
“I didn’t know he knew I was there,” Parise said of Coyle’s wicked pass.
Parise, like Bouchard, went backhand, over the glove, roof. Great quote here from Parise: “I just wanted to get it upstairs. We had done enough trying to get it through him on the ice.”
Josh Harding made 25 saves for his first career playoff win.
Zucker had the big goal, five shots, drew his fourth penalty of the series and popped Brent Seabrook, then stood over him at the end of the second. Seabrook is the same Chicago defenseman that has run Zucker a few times in the series.
“I don’t even know what happened there,” Zucker said. “I just went in to finish my check. He’s a big guy. I was surprised he went down.”
On standing over Seabrook, Zucker unleashed his Vegas poker face: “He had my leg caught in between his legs.”
Yeo, who won his first playoff game as an NHL head coach, wanted a more physical tone and the Wild brought it from the beginning.
“We need everyone to be physical and involved in the game,” Parise said. “That’s playoff hockey and I don’t think we did a good enough job [before Sunday]. It’s not about banging the glass. It’s just about finishing your check every time we can.”
The building was awesome. Just amped from the beginning.
“You could tell right from warmups there was electricity in here,” Parise said.
Like I said, please read the paper and all the goodies on www.startribune.com/wild
for columns, game story coverage, notebooks, quotes, stats galore.
The big thing now? The Blackhawks will ramp up their game Tuesday. The Wild has to do the same.
“We have to continue doing this,” Yeo said. “We have to have an effect on their defensemen. We have to get pucks in behind them and we have to make sure we’re arriving physically. I thought we stepped that part of our game tonight and will need to do even more of that.
Some Hawks quotes
They just took it to another level and we have to be ready for the next one
We have to get the net more, get more shots, get more obstruction in there.
Corey was amazing, he's been good all year, obviously we have to look at that and take it to the next level like he did today.
We should have expected that from the start. Just because we won two at home doesn't mean they are going to throw the series. We need to take the game for 60 minutes. They did, and we have to come back and do that.
They got some good players and they're a hard-working team, but when we focus on what we have to do, bring that intensity that you have to bring in the playoffs ... we didn't make them worry enough about what we had to do tonight.
At the end of the day, they deserved to win the game, they were a little quicker than us tonight, and our strength is using our speed and our skill, and we didn't use our speed enough tonight. Jumping up in the play, making plays, we just didn't use our speed enough.
I liked our start, first seven eight minutes was pretty good, they were physical, yeah, we had some big hits too. We know we can be better in the physical aspect, but we want to use our speed.
When we tied it late like that, we're feeling good, we put good pressure on them the last seven eight minutes, and we got that goal, then you go into overtime, anything can happen.
Quick shot off, thought I had it covered, but he got it short side there.
Really loud in here, obviously they feed off that. They had momentum, but we were able to settle down and not get riled up by all that.
As a goalie, you just want to give your team a chance to win, would have been nice there to win in overtime, but we just got to look ahead to the next one.
We were really positive throughout the whole game, not just when we tied it. We knew they were going to come out and run around, but we stayed calm.
Tough to take right now.
Talk to you after Monday’s practice