Souhan: This series, these playoffs woke town from the doldrums

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 14, 2014 - 7:04 AM

Screaming wasn’t enough. Waving towels wouldn’t suffice.

This game begged more of those in attendance, so fans at Xcel Energy Center stood during the frenetic second period, stood and screamed and waved and tried not to succumb to emotional exhaustion.

What looked like a standing ovation might have been more like a standing eight-count, because this was a night for smelling salts and oxygen tanks.

There are times when sport is routine, and there are times when it is a waste a time, and then there are times like Tuesday night, when two resolute teams elevate their genre to some sort of breathless art.

When it ended, it ended not because of a mistake but because of the kind of bouncing luck that so often defines epic hockey. A puck caromed crazily off a stanchion behind the Wild goal. Blackhawks magician Patrick Kane picked it up, tucked it behind Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, and suddenly players who had been cross-checking each other were lining up to shake hands.

The final: Blackhawks 2, Wild 1. Blackhawks four games, Wild two.

The Wild has given us thrills during this postseason, and has excelled at home, but rarely in the history of this still-pristine building has the Wild and any opponent staged such a neck-wrenching, end-to-end drama.

The Blackhawks started the game as if they wanted to end it in a knockout. They took a 1-0 goal in the first on Kris Versteeg’s goal, which bounced off Bryzgalov from a sharp angle and somehow found the net. That marked the first time this postseason the Wild had trailed at home.

The Wild responded with impassioned hockey, dominating the puck and creating prime chances that only heightened the tension when missed, like a false-alarm scene in a horror movie.

Wild forward Matt Cooke, who has been highly effective as a checker, again terrorized Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy, forcing him into at least two turnovers. But Cooke earned the Wild’s first penalty when he boarded Chicago defenseman Johnny Oduya in the first.

Cooke is a strange combination of soft hands and a cold heart. In the second period, he displayed the former, banking a deft pass past a Blackhawks defender and into the open ice. Of course, that pass would work only if intended for one of the league’s fastest players.

Erik Haula qualifies as just that, and he swooped in on the loose puck, veered left and fired a shot over the glove of Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford to make it 1-1. Haula, a quiet kid off the ice, took out his mouthpiece, skated to the corner and began a conversation with the fans.

In the third period, the game regressed from a track meet to a wrestling back. Oxygen debt will do that.

The Blackhawks, seemingly exhausted, couldn’t manage a shot until less than eight minutes remained in regulation. At that point, the Wild, despite a half-dozen close calls, had taken only two actual shots on net.

Wild fans chanted taunts of “Craw-ford’’ most of the night. Crawford must have misunderstood. He played as if inspired by the attention, holding off everything from point-blank shots to blatant net-crashing.

The Wild’s 13 playoff games constituted the best extended drama the Twin Cities has seen in a decade, and Game 6 might have been the best sporting event we’ve seen in five years.

On Oct. 5, 2009, Vikings quarterback Brett Favre faced his old team on “Monday Night Football,” and the Vikings beat the Packers 30-23 in a game as dramatic as the circumstances. The next day, the Twins won Game 163, 6-5, in 12 inning to advance to the playoffs.

Tuesday night, the Wild awakened the echoes of Twin Cities sports dramas. Then a puck bounced the wrong way to the wrong player, the crowd fell silent, and the Wild’s month of drama ended with empty stares and consolation handshakes.

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Kansas City 0 Top 2nd Inning
San Francisco 1
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 2 FINAL
San Jose 1
Boston 1 2nd Prd 7:28
Toronto 0
NY Rangers 1 2nd Prd 8:16
Montreal 1
New Jersey 1 2nd Prd 5:11
Ottawa 1
Dallas 4 2nd Prd 2:43
NY Islanders 4
Detroit 1 3rd Prd
Philadelphia 1
Chicago 1 1st Prd 5:52
St. Louis 1
Pittsburgh 1 1st Prd 2:21
Nashville 0
Tampa Bay 1 1st Prd 3:59
Minnesota 3
Florida 8:00 PM
Arizona
Washington 9:00 PM
Calgary
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 21 FINAL
Rice 41
UAB 17 FINAL
Arkansas 45
Rutgers 24 FINAL
(16) Nebraska 42
Maryland 7 FINAL
Wisconsin 52
Texas 0 FINAL
(11) Kansas State 23
Minnesota 24 FINAL
Illinois 28
Memphis 48 FINAL
SMU 10
North Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia 27
San Jose St 31 FINAL
Navy 41
Northern Ill 28 FINAL
Eastern Mich 17
(25) UCLA 40 FINAL
Colorado 37
Akron 21 FINAL
Ball State 35
Massachusetts 35 FINAL
Toledo 42
Ohio U 21 FINAL
Western Mich 42
Ga Southern 69 FINAL
Georgia State 31
Kent State 3 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 10
Oregon State 14 FINAL
Stanford 38
Fla Atlantic 16 FINAL
(23) Marshall 35
Louisiana Tech 31 FINAL
Southern Miss 20
(1) Miss State 45 FINAL
Kentucky 31
Georgia Tech 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 28
(22) West Virginia 34 FINAL
Oklahoma State 10
Texas Tech 27 FINAL
(10) TCU 82
Michigan 11 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 35
Boston College 23 FINAL
Wake Forest 17
Central Mich 20 FINAL
Buffalo 14
Vanderbilt 14 FINAL
Missouri 24
Old Dominion 51 FINAL
Western Ky 66
UNLV 20 FINAL
Utah State 34
Temple 14 4th Qtr 2:11
UCF 34
(15) Arizona 45 3rd Qtr 7:05
Washington St 16
Texas-El Paso 17 3rd Qtr
TX-San Antonio 0
Wyoming 3 3rd Qtr
Colorado State 24
Syracuse 6 3rd Qtr
(21) Clemson 3
Texas State 0 3rd Qtr
ULM 13
(3) Ole Miss 7 2nd Qtr 6:11
(24) LSU 0
(4) Alabama 20 2nd Qtr 12:48
Tennessee 0
So Carolina 14 2nd Qtr 6:32
(5) Auburn 14
(13) Ohio State 7 1st Qtr 7:59
Penn State 0
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(18) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Texas State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
(20) USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(5) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(1) Miss State
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(6) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(7) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(15) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(19) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(14) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Seattle 2
D.C. 1 FINAL
Montreal 1
Toronto FC 0 2nd Half
New England 1
Portland 7:30 PM
FC Dallas
Colorado 9:00 PM
Vancouver FC
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 24 FINAL
Toronto 26
Brt Columbia 13
Winnipeg 14
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
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