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Minnesota Defends Home Ice, Ties Series With Blackhawks

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 10, 2014 2:10PM

The Blackhawks will be eager to return to the United Center after two lackluster performances at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Friday night's 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild tied their Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal playoff series at two games apiece and, if the Wild can steal one of the next two games in Chicago while holding serve at home, could send the defending champs to an early summer vacation.

Justin Fontaine put Minnesota on the board first with a wrist shot past Corey Crawford at the 7:24 mark. Patrick Sharp tied the game with 39 seconds remaining in the period.

Jason Pominville returned the lead to the Wild in the second period when he deflected a shot past Crawford. Michael Handzus tied the game again with a tip-in of his own before Nino Niederreiter put Minnesota ahead for good with a snap shot. Jared Spurgeon added a power play goal to complete the scoring.

The Blackhawks were taken completely out of their game in St. Paul and fell victim to the Wild's game plan of slowing the pace and increasing the physicality. Minnesota outhit the Hawks 22-7, held a 34-25 advantage in faceoffs and took the puck away 15 times to Chicago's four. They also held a 31-20 advantage in shots on goal with a lopsided 18-9 edge in the second period as they established the tone of the game.

The Wild also were able to counter whenever the Hawks would muster a surge, feeding off the goaltending of Ilya Bryzgalov who got stronger as the game progressed. Bryzaglov's stop of a Patrick Sharp breakaway opportunity was the save of the game.

Game 5 is Sunday in Chicago. Puck drop is at 8 p.m..