ST. PAUL, Minn. — Mike Yeo believed his Minnesota Wild would be desperate against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 on Sunday, as any team staring at a 2-0 series deficit would be, but he also expected this: searing dislike.
“I really believe in order to be successful, there has to be a level of hatred for the team you’re playing against,” Yeo said at the Xcel Energy Center on Sunday. “It shouldn’t be hard for us.
“The fact played we’ve played them a couple times, the fact we’ve come out on the wrong end, there should certainly be some hostility (today).”
The Wild certainly were busy pushing and shoving and agitating all game, but it required overtime and a score from Jason Zucker from a sharp angle, short-side goal for a 3-2 win that cuts the Hawks’ series lead to 2-1.
The Wild already had 12 hits in the first period — just-recalled Stephane Veilleux had two on his first shift alone — but the Hawks weren’t rattled. Case in point: On the sequence that led to the score, Marian Hossa got whacked in the head on the ice and then pushed back near the goal-mouth, distracting Wild defenseman Justin Falk.
Jonathan Toews tied up another Wild defender near the crease, and Oduya got the lane to skate in, take a feed from Patrick Kane and drive his first goal of the playoffs in for a 1-0 lead at the 13:26 mark.
About when the first period ended with a deadened crowd, the Wild out-hustled the Hawks to a score. Cal Clutterbuck recovered from a hit in his own zone to skate into the slot and fire a shot off Corey Crawford, who kicked out a short rebound that no Hawks player managed to clear.
Clutterbuck collected it, then dropped a short pass to Bouchard who fired a shot past Crawford’s left hand for the equalizer at 18:30 mark.
The Wild thoroughly outplayed and out-chanced the Hawks in the second period, but came up with nothing. Crawford essentially was left to stave off every push by himself, recording 28 saves through two periods alone.
He couldn’t hold up forever, though, without a little help. So when Wild center Charlie Coyle knocked Hawks defenseman Michal Rozsival off the puck behind the net and fed Zach Parise in front, the goal almost couldn’t be helped. And Parise roofed a backhand shot for his first score of the postseason made it 2-1 wiith a little less than 17 minutes to play.
The Hawks kept applying pressure with no result until the Wild were caught in a change with the Hawks streaking up ice. Kane took a Patrick Sharp pass and moved it on to Keith, who found a soft spot near the faceoff circle and beat Josh Harding to tie it at the 17:14 mark.
Zucker then scored 2:15 into overtime to push the series to at least five games, with Game 4 set for Tuesday.
Harding once again got the start in goal for the Wild, with Niklas Backstrom evidently still not ready for a lineup return. Though Harding has been solid in his stead, allowing four goals but facing a 46-shot barrage in Game 2.