ST. PAUL, Minn -- As badly as the Wild needed a victory in Game 3, probably no one on the ice needed it more than struggling goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
"I think every professional athlete has to prove something every day; otherwise there's no reason to play," Bryzgalov said Thursday. "I think you've got to prove, not to the media or to the fans, but prove to yourself that you're capable to do something."
Bryzgalov, who was acquired from Edmonton just before the trade deadline, finished the regular season 7-1-3 but was on the losing end in the Wild's first two playoff games against Colorado and soon was on the bench in favor of Darcy Kuemper.
When Kuemper was injured late in Game 7 against the Avs, Bryzgalov came in, made 1 save and picked up the victory. But when he opened the Wild's second-round playoff series against the Blackhawks by allowing 7 goals in two games -- both losses -- the questions started coming.
That's why the Wild's shutout victory in Game 3 on Tuesday was such a big deal, not only for Bryzgalov, but the team as well.
"There were a lot of questions and we believed in Bryz, we knew what he was capable of, but the questions start to grow in numbers and the attention continues to grow, so focus-wise for your group I knew that it was going to be extremely important for him and our group to get a win," Wild coach Mike Yeo said.
"I think that has the potential to be a game to move things along here, to be able to help his confidence and again to alleviate some of those questions that have been coming up."