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updated: 5/10/2014 12:59 AM

Hawks find themselves in a battle

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  • Minnesota Wild left wing Matt Cooke, left, celebrates after Wild right wing Justin Fontaine scored on Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, right, during the first period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series in St. Paul, Minn., Friday, May 9, 2014.

      Minnesota Wild left wing Matt Cooke, left, celebrates after Wild right wing Justin Fontaine scored on Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, right, during the first period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series in St. Paul, Minn., Friday, May 9, 2014.
    Associated Press

 
 

ST. PAUL, Minn -- A few nights after being shut out by the Wild in Game 3, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville mixed up his lines big time in hopes of getting some kind of consistent offense going Friday night at the Xcel Energy Center.

Yeah, that didn't work too well.

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The Hawks were outshot 31-20 by Minnesota -- and outworked and outskated -- and they suddenly find themselves in an out-and-out battle with the Wild after falling 4-2 and seeing their second-round series tied at 2-2 with Game 5 looming Sunday night at the United Center.

It was the fourth straight game of this series that the Wild has held the Hawks to 22 or fewer shots, a stat that's mind-boggling to all involved.

"I think it's a reflection of our intensity," Jonathan Toews said. "They worked for their chances. They worked for everything they got. We have to do the same.

"I don't really know how to explain it, we have to be better. It's frustrating to not get a win the last two games on the road. We could have put ourselves in a great spot had we played the way we need to play to try and get a win these last two games. But we didn't."

But it wasn't just the lack of scoring chances that stood out Friday; it was the fact that the Hawks were outplayed at their own game -- the speed game.

"It just comes back to the same thing: We have to use our speed," Duncan Keith said. "Tonight they were faster than us."

And the Wild seemed to have more pep in their step as well.

Maybe part of that was the return of Matt Cooke to the lineup. The veteran forward was a factor from the get-go, finishing the night with 5 hits, a pair of take-aways, an assist and a plus-1 rating in nearly 16 minutes of ice time.

"Everybody was excited he was back," Wild center Charlie Coyle said. "We love the way he plays here. He gives us a boatload of energy out there and he gets the guys going no matter what he does.

"He's always hitting, playing physical, and that's what we need. He knows how to play to our strengths, and it feeds into us."

Every time the Hawks thought they were back in the game Friday, like when Patrick Sharp scored his second goal of the playoffs with just 39 seconds left in the first, the Wild had a response.

And the Wild also had a relentless defense that made the Hawks work for every one of those 20 shots they took.

"We're always making them come through five guys," Zach Parise said. "That gets frustrating. We're working hard. We're making it tough. We're just playing a good defensive game, and that is in turn letting us have the puck more and play more offense."

With the Wild leading 3-2 in the third, Jared Spurgeon's power-play goal 3:47 in all but sealed the deal for the Wild, which is suddenly the team with the mojo heading to Chicago on Sunday.

"This series is long from over, that's the good news," Toews said. "We have a chance to redeem ourselves and be better than we have been."

mspellman@dailyherald.com

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