As the Wild prepared for Tuesday’s Game 3 of its second-round playoff series against Chicago, it could find some encouragement in numbers. The team has a five-game winning streak in Game 3s dating to 2008, including three consecutive shutouts at Xcel Energy Center.
Several players said Monday they expected to get an emotional boost from the throngs at Xcel, where the Wild is 7-2 over the past two postseasons. Though coach Mike Yeo didn’t discount the benefit of familiar surroundings, he cautioned that his team can’t expect the comforts of home to solve the problems that surfaced in a Game 2 loss that left the Wild in an 0-2 hole.
“I don’t think we should just assume that because we’re coming back home that all will be right in the world,’’ Yeo said. “[Chicago is] a good team, and I’m expecting them to come in with a real strong effort, and I’m expecting a hard game.’’
The Wild has played four consecutive Game 3s at home. In the first round of the playoffs, it beat St. Louis 3-0 in Game 3 at Xcel. Last year, it won Game 3s against Chicago (4-0, second round) and Colorado (1-0, first round). It also defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 in Game 3 of their first-round series in 2013.
“Being at home is a huge boost,’’ defenseman Jordan Leopold said. “We just need to come out with a good start and relax and really just enjoy the moment. … It’s a huge game for us, and to have it in our back yard is a bonus.’’
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said he knows his team will have to play even better to win at Xcel, but he isn’t worried about its ability to do that. During the regular season, the Blackhawks won a franchise-record 24 road games.
“They play well at home,’’ Quenneville said of the Wild. “Their fans are excited and will be passionate. We know how hard it is to win in that building.’’
Quenneville confirmed Monday that goaltender Corey Crawford was OK after taking a hard Marco Scandella shot in the head in Sunday’s third period. Crawford appeared staggered by the blow but stayed in the game. He finished with his best performance of the playoffs, stopping 30 of 31 shots.
Crawford said he didn’t see the shot — which he called “a bomb’’— until just before it hit him. “I kind of turned my head and lost my balance a little bit,’’ said Crawford, who did not consider leaving the game. “I’m fine.’’
The only casualty of the incident was Crawford’s slick new mask. It was dented, so he skated to the bench and swapped it for his old mask. The goalie, who struggled in the first two games of Chicago’s first-round series against Nashville, now has won three in a row and drew raves from teammates for critical stops on Zach Parise and Kyle Brodziak that maintained the Blackhawks’ early lead.
“[Crawford] made some huge saves there in the second period,’’ winger Patrick Sharp said. “That’s big. The building gets into it. They start chanting his name. That energy feeds into our lineup, and we play better from there.’’
• Yeo was uncertain Monday whether winger Justin Fontaine would be able to play Tuesday. Fontaine left Game 1 because of a lower-body injury and did not play Sunday. He is listed as day-to-day. Yeo did say he expects winger Chris Stewart to be healthy enough to stay in the lineup for Game 3. Stewart appeared to injure his right arm when he slid hard into the end boards in the second period Sunday, but he returned to the game.
• The Wild on Monday signed center Pavel Jenys to a three-year, entry-level contract. Jenys, 19, is a native of the Czech Republic who was chosen by the Wild in the seventh round of the 2014 NHL draft. In his first season of North American hockey, he led Sudbury of the Ontario Hockey League with 45 points, then signed a tryout contract with the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa and had three assists in eight games.