The Wild remained unbeaten at the Xcel Energy Center in the 2014 playoffs, defeating the Blackhawks 4-0 on Tuesday night.
After two periods with very little offense from from either team, the Wild exploded for four in the third period to blow the Hawks away. Erik Haula tipped home a nice pass from Justin Fontaine to start the scoring at 1:41, and Mikael Granlund made a nice play in traffic to beat Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford and extend Minnesota’s lead to two.
Zach Parise added a power play goal at 17:25 and Granlund scored an empty net goal at 18:43 to close the books on Game Three.
Coach Joel Quenneville mixed up his lineup again for Tuesday night, with a surprising twist. Nick Leddy, who had played in every regular season and playoff game over the last three seasons, was a healthy scratch in his home state with Sheldon Brookbank getting the call. Jeremy Morin was also put back in the press box as Brandon Bollig returned to the lineup.
Not only did Quenneville take Leddy and Morin out of the rotation, but he also mixed up the pairs on the blue line. Johnny Oduya spent most of the night with Duncan Keith; they were the only defensemen to skate more than 20 minutes in the game. Brent Seabrook skated with Niklas Hjalmarsson, who had additional protection on his neck after getting hit in the throat in Game Two. Hjalmarsson can’t talk, but he can skate – and he led the Hawks with four blocked shots once again.
Bollig took 11 shifts and skated 5:53 in the game.
Brookbank skated 12:16, and unsuccessfully tried to fight Nino Niederreiter in the third when the Hawks were trailing by two.
Leddy took a seat after taking a dumb penalty in each of the first two games of the series, an uncharacteristic lack of composure from a defenseman who took only five minor penalties in 82 regular season games this year. He has only two assists – both on the power play – in eight games to open the 2014 postseason.
Ilya Bryzgalov stopped only 19 shots to record his fourth career postseason shutout. Corey Crawford allowed three goals against only 17 shots in the loss.
Late in the second period, Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter got tangled up with Hossa and the two went down hard. It appeared that Suter was favoring an arm/shoulder when they got up, and he went straight to the room for attention. Suter returned for the start of the third period, though, and finished the night skating 26:12 with one assist, three blocked shots and one hit.
The Hawks killed three of four penalties in the game, but were awful on both of their power play opportunities. Five different Hawks were minus-two in the game, and Keith led the team with three hits.