Zulgad: These 3 things must happen for the Wild to remain in series
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CHICAGO - The thought was a scary one.
As the Wild reflected on a 5-2 loss to Chicago in the opening game of their second-round series, the realization was that Minnesota had a great opportunity to steal a victory.
This was the type of game where the team running on adrenaline goes into an opposing building, quiets the hometown fans and surprises its well-rested foe.
Only that didn't happen.
That leaves the Wild asking this question: "Did we deliver a quality punch to the Blackhawks and still lose by three goals?"
That might be why coach Mike Yeo made it clear from the opening statement of his postgame press conference that he wasn't happy with how his team played.
The other alternative would have been to defend his team's performance, point out they had played only two days earlier and still mustered a very respectable performance against the Hawks.
Of course, if you elect to go that route, that means you are admitting you played well and still lost. Once you do that, what's the hope for Game 2 on Sunday at United Center?
So how does the Wild rebound to win that game? Here are three things that need to happen for the Wild to have a chance:
1) Jason Pominville and Matt Moulson are going to have to start scoring goals. Each has one in the postseason and Pominville's was into an empty net. If there is such a thing as a shooting slump in hockey, Pominville is in the midst of one. He was credited with one shot on goal Friday but missed four others. (The Wild had 18 shots miss the mark.) He fanned on a one-time opportunity that would have presented issues for Chicago's Corey Crawford if the puck had gotten on goal. Pominville's struggles were not for lack of effort. That's the scary thing about Moulson's game. You noticed Pominville on the ice, but Moulson (played 14 minutes, 14 seconds) did nothing that made you even look at him. Not a good thing for a guy who's going to be an unrestricted free agent.
2) Jonas Brodin has a bright future in the NHL and should be an All-Star at some point. But he hasn't stood out in the postseason and Friday he had a rocky game. Brodin was called for six minutes in high-sticking penalties, including a double-minor in the first period, and the Blackhawks scored on both power plays. Brodin also was unable to slow Patrick Kane as the Blackhawks star burst past him in the Wild zone and scored on a backhand past Ilya Bryzgalov to give Chicago a 3-2 lead in the first period.
3) The Blackhawks went 2-for-4 on the power play and the Wild was 0-for-3 with the man advantage. This can't continue or Wild players will be on the golf course very soon. The Wild's struggles on the power play didn't come as a huge surprise, given that they were only 3-for-21 against the Avs. The Hawks penalty kill, 19th in the NHL during the regular season, also has been outstanding and has given up two power-play goals on 32 chances. The bothersome thing was the Wild's penalty kill gave up two goals after it went 22-for-25 in killing penalties against the Avalanche. If the Wild isn't going to score power-play goals, they need to make sure they don't give them up.