Could it end this quickly?
Could the team that put together three months of excellence and dominated its first-round playoff series get swept, and see its season end at home on Thursday?
The Minnesota Wild lost, 1-0, and excruciatingly, to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center. Chicago leads the series, 3-0, the close score on Tuesday only heightened the Wild's frustration.
This is the highest-scoring Wild team in history, but it has failed to solve Chicago goalie Corey Crawford, thought to be his team's weak link entering this series.
Other than a three-goal flurry in Game 1, the Wild has too often failed to stuff in available rebounds, too often shot wide while facing open net.
Tuesday, it was a familiar story for the Wild: Minnesota skaters put more shots on net and often dominated the flow of play, but while Wild players often threw the puck toward the net, Chicago's stars displayed precision.
The difference in this game was that when the puck wound up on Patrick Kane's stick, he scored cleanly, through the legs of Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk. That was all it took to bring the Wild's season to the brink.
Only four teams in the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs - covering 178 series - have rebounded from a 3-0 deficit to win.
Tuesday, Thomas Vanek did not distinguish himself. He often pulled up just inside the blue line with the puck, ignoring open ice and turning his back on breaking teammates. When the puck was in the defensive zone, he often hung out near mid-ice, hoping for a breakout pass.
The Wild took 30 shots and scored on none of them. Solving Crawford will be their goal on Thursday night in St. Paul, when the Wild tries to send the series back to Chicago.