Wild sweep Chicago
ST. PAUL - The regular season means little once the playoffs begin. But thanks to their dominance of the regular-season series with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Minnesota Wild are looking like a playoff team once again.Paced by late goals from Jar...
ST. PAUL – The regular season means little once the playoffs begin. But thanks to their dominance of the regular-season series with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Minnesota Wild are looking like a playoff team once again.
Paced by late goals from Jared Spurgeon and Erik Haula, the Wild beat the Blackhawks 4-1 on Tuesday night and swept their five games against Chicago this season.
Jarret Stoll and Nino Niederreiter also scored for Minnesota (38-28-11), which got 18 saves from goalie Devan Dubnyk to win its season-high sixth consecutive game. Coupled with Colorado’s 3-1 loss in St. Louis, the Wild now lead the Avalanche by five points for the final playoff spot in the West with five games to play.
“There’s nothing wrong with wanting it every shift. That’s just the bottom line. That’s the game,” said Wild interim head coach John Torchetti. “In the playoffs, you can’t have a shift off or next thing you know it’s in the other net and you might lose 1-0. We’ve got to be detailed and win a game 1-0 or 2-1 or 4-1. That’s what I mean.”
Chicago, which swept Minnesota in a four-game playoff series last May, got a goal from Marian Hossa and 14 saves from Scott Darling but couldn’t find a way to beat the Wild in the regular season. The Blackhawks (44-26-7) have clinched a trip to the playoffs but fell to a pedestrian 3-5-1 in their past nine games.
“Obviously it adds insult to injury to lose this one tonight. At the end of the day, it’s unfortunate,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “They were always ready for those games. There were a couple that we really didn’t play well and didn’t really deserve to win. I think tonight was an improvement and obviously the score doesn’t look that way. It’s not fun to look back and have a record like that against a team in your division, especially a team like Minnesota.”
With the score knotted 1-1, Spurgeon found the net off a long lead pass from Wild captain Mikko Koivu. Haula extended his career-best point streak to nine games, tucking a backhander between Darling’s knees. Niederreiter added an empty-net goal with 1 minute, 19 seconds to play.
“Obviously you get some confidence from it, but at the same time the playoffs are a different animal,” Spurgeon said of their sweeping Chicago. “But when you have that confidence going into the playoffs if you do happen to play in them, it’s huge for the team. We’re having fun right now, and we just have to keep it going.”
Chicago 1 0 0- 1
Minnesota 1 0 3- 4
First Period-1, Minnesota, Stoll 4 (Reilly, Schroeder) 2:37. 2, Chicago, Hossa 13 (Toews, Rozsival) 11:55 (sh).
Third Period-3, Minnesota, Spurgeon 11 (Koivu, Pominville) 4:07. 4, Minnesota, Haula 13 (Niederreiter, Dumba) 11:03. 5, Minnesota, Niederreiter 20 (Granlund, Haula) 18:41 (en).
Shots on Goal-Chicago 5-7-7-19. Minnesota 8-6-4-18.
Power-play opportunities-Chicago 0 of 3. Minnesota 0 of 3.
Goalies-Chicago Darling 9-8-3 (17 shots-14 saves). Minnesota Dubnyk 32-22-6 (19-18).
A-19,190 (18,064). T-2:19.