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updated: 5/7/2014 8:06 AM

Wild makes Blackhawks sit up and take notice

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  • A shot by Minnesota Wild center Mikael Granlund (64 gets past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford and Wild left wing Zach Parise (11) during the third period of Game 3 Tuesday in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 4-0.

      A shot by Minnesota Wild center Mikael Granlund (64 gets past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford and Wild left wing Zach Parise (11) during the third period of Game 3 Tuesday in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 4-0.
    Associated Press


ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The largest crowd in Xcel Energy Center history knew it.

Minnesota's coaches and players knew it as well.

The Wild's very playoff survival in their second-round series against the Blackhawks hinged on them winning Game 3 on Tuesday night.

Well, thanks to a pair of goals by Mikael Granlund and the sparkling play of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, that's just what the Wild did.

"Now it's a new series again," Granlund said.

Indeed it is, thanks to the Hawks dropping their first road game of a playoff series for the ninth consecutive time. Their series lead over the Wild stands at 2-1.

"I know you guys want to talk about that, but to us it's nothing," Jonathan Toews said of the first-game road losing streak. "To us it doesn't matter. We knew we had to play better than we did today.

"We're still looking for the type of game we know how to play; we just haven't brought it yet. It has nothing to do with being the first game on the road."

In a game that took quite awhile to get untracked, the Wild came alive in the third period with 4 consecutive goals to break open a scoreless, and honestly, less than scintillating game.

"I still don't think either team really took over the game," Toews said. "You look at the shots, it stayed under 20 apiece again.

"We started playing the way we could when we went down 2 goals to none. Still a little frustrating trying to understand why that is."

The Wild began to rustle a bit in the second period, starting with a flurry of activity that Hawks goalie Corey Crawford repelled. But early in the third, Minnesota finally found the net. It started when Erik Haula took a Justin Fontaine one-hop pass and swatted it out of midair and past a sliding Crawford.

"They got one early and they got the momentum and they kind of kept going from there," Duncan Keith said. "I thought we hung around for a couple of periods waiting to see what happens.

"We didn't have that killer instinct that we're going to need."

Just a few minutes after Haula's goal, Granlund flipped a sweet backhander over Crawford's shoulder for the first of his 2 goals on the night to all but seal the verdict and assure the series of going at least five games.

"You have to give them credit, they played hard and did what they had to do," Keith said. "But I don't think that's anywhere near the level we can play at and are going to have to be at to be successful."

While Crawford saw his and the Hawks' six-game winning streak come to an end, probably the most relieved player on the ice was beleaguered Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who stopped all 19 shots he faced.

"It's a little bit of relief," Bryzgalov admitted. "I just continued through, practiced hard, prepared for the game and believed we could win."

The two teams now have a few days to digest Tuesday's result before returning to the Xcel Center for Game 4 on Friday night. "I don't think we're happy with the way we played today. We have to bring it on Friday," Toews said.

"You win six in a row in the playoffs, (you) should be happy," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But every series is tight. It's hard to win one game, let alone six, so let's forget about that."

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