(Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
By Ryan Donaldson / @RADonaldson
On Saturday night, the Minnesota Wild club returned to the United Center in Chicago where their playoff run briskly came to an end last season to take on the Blackhawks. With the sour taste of their early playoff exit still fresh in their mouths, Minnesota looked to capitalize on this opportunity to put it behind them.
All of the early scoring chances went the way of the Blackhawks as Backstrom was forced to make several tough saves to keep it scoreless in the first few minutes of the game. Granlund was tagged with the first penalty of the game for highsticking, but the Wild killed of the 2-minute man-advantage beautifully.
Later in the period, a Marion Hossa interference gave Minnesota it's first chance of the game. Suter blasted the puck on net following a faceoff win, the rebound found the tape of the dangerous Zach Parise, who cashed in for his 6th goal of the season giving the wild the early 1-0 edge.
Backstrom had the save of the night with his glove on a great move by Patrick Sharp that had the Finnish goal-tender sprawled out like an eagle. The big save and another solid penalty kill helped keep the Blackhawks at bay after one period.
The Wild came out hungry in the 2nd period with a quick goal from Brodziak's deflection of a Scandella drive.
Less than three minutes after a Blackhawk goal was waived off for high-sticking following a 10 minute review, Bickell scored for the Blackhawks to make it 2-1.
However, not to be discourage the Wild got right back to business after Granlund's beautiful feed found the tape of Pominville who wristed in his 5th of the year to re-gain that 2 goal lead at the end of the second period, 3-1.
Granlund was in the mood for helping saturday night as he fed Pominville yet again for his second goal of the night after the Wild killed off a penalty, making it 4-1.
You can't keep the Blackhawks off the scoreboard forever. Notorious Wild pest Patrick Kane tallied to make it a 4-2 game. Patrick Fontaine, however, didn't let the Hawks feel good about themselves for long after shelfing a Koivu backhand pass in the upper left to eventually ice the game 5-3.
Niklas Backstrom, despite allowing 3 goals, was the key to this Saturday night victory. He faced a barage of shots, but he stopped the high powered Blackhawks on several point-blank scoring chances. Backstrom, filling in for the injured Josh Harding, looked like he wasn't going to be willing to give up the starting goal-tender title without a fight after this gritty performance.
Mikael Granlund was one of the stars of the game, and after the tilt, he was with Tom Reid in the locker room "Chicago is a great team, but we found a way to win, and we've got to keep it going. We are creating chances, this is just the first time we actually got a couple, those goals between me and Pominville will keep coming if we can keep playing like that" He went on to say this win was huge for the team "It was a big win, every win is, but especially this one. Chicago will want to bounce back Monday night and we will have to be ready for that!"
As Mikael noted, the Wild are back in action Monday night at Xcel Energy Center hosting the familiar team they faced just 48 hours earlier, the Blackhawks. The Wild took game 1 of their regular season series on Saturday night on the road, and will look to take game 2 on home ice come Monday Night at 7PM on the FAN!