It’s quickly becoming difficult to call these guys youngsters. The Minnesota Wild continued its home-ice playoff dominance with a four-goal third period to creep within a game in the best-of-seven series against the Chicago Blackhawks. Highlighting the rout was Mikael Granlund with a pair of goals and Erik Haula getting rewarded after flying around the ice with the game-winning goal.
Let’s get one thing straight. Mikael Granlund is no longer the “future” of the Minnesota Wild. He is now an integral part of the “present”. Scoring contributions are expected every night as he has centers the Minnesota Wild’s first line (or second, however you want to look at it) between Jason Pominville and Zach Parise.
That being said, Granlund had another phenomenal game in all aspects. He bagged his third and fourth goals of the postseason and now has 7 points. The fourth was an empty-netter, but the third was a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play which finished with Granlund flicking a backhander past a sprawling Corey Crawford.
Erik Haula, possibly the most consistent Wild player as of late, was his familiar self. He contributed a tap-in goal on a perfect saucer pass from Justin Fontaine that landed right on Haula’s tape.
Erik Haula’s skating ability has been a huge factor against the speedy Blackhawks as he is at times the only player capable of keeping up with some of the Chicago forwards.
Finally, Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle were workhorses beneath the goal line on the newly formed line with Mikko Koivu. Minnesota got the puck possession it sought from the three big bodied forwards and were able to sustain control in the Blackhawks’ zone far more than the first two games.
Other highlights included Ilya Bryzgalov’s shutout. Mr. Universh looked much more comfortable than games 1 and 2, stopping 19 shots. Despite having been pulled for the services of Darcy Kuemper in round 1, Bryzgalov has likely earned the net in game 4 whether Kuemper is available or not.
With the 4-0 victory in game 3, The Minnesota Wild is now brimming with confidence. Being at home in front of a frenzied Xcel Energy Center crowd has been a huge advantage for the Wild in the playoffs thus far and should be again come Friday.
Click here for other Minnesota Wild related articles