Minnesota coach Mike Yeo made it clear before Game 3 on Sunday what his team needed to do to get back in the series with the Blackhawks.
“The one thing we haven’t done well is be physical on key guys, especially on their defensemen,” Yeo said. “You look back on the first two games and we have an opportunity to finish checks on a guy like (Duncan) Keith and we’re not taking those opportunities.
“We have to understand it’s more than just that play. It’s about investing in the series and making sure that every time they’re going to touch the puck they know you’re coming.”
The Wild hit Keith time after time. Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook, Nick Leddy and Michal Rozsival, too, in their 3-2 win in overtime on Sunday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center.
It was Charlie Coyle’s hit on Rozsival behind the net early in the third period that set up Zack Parise’s goal that gave the Wild a 2-1 lead.
Cal Clutterbuck led Minnesota with 8 hits and Devin Setoguchi had 7.
“They’re such a quick and skilled team, you have to try and finish your checks,” Setoguchi said. “Their defense jumps into the play so well you have to do something to slow them down.”
The Wild outhit the Hawks 34-13 with most of those hits coming against the defensemen.
“We have to have an effect on their defensemen,” Yeo said. “We have to get pucks in behind them and we have to make sure we’re arriving physically. We stepped that part of our game tonight and we’re going to have to continue to do that.
“Two words that I thought were going to be extremely important for us, one was desperation; that’s a simple one in the playoffs. You have to have that every shift, every play.
“Being assertive: I thought we did a much better with the puck to obviously help us get to our game but to prevent them from getting to their game in certain situations. That’s a team you don’t want to give time and space to, that’s for sure.”
There was a bit more emotion in Game 3 on both sides in terms of scrums after whistles and wrestling matches.
“We have a lot of guys that are getting their first taste of playoff hockey,” Yeo said. “I really believe to be successful there has to be a level of hatred for the team you’re playing against. It shouldn’t be hard for us. They’re trying to take something away from us. There should certainly be some hostility.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.