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Enjoy tonight's game Tyler!
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AP Photo/Andy King
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
St. Paul, MN - When Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith tied game three up at the 17:14 mark of the third period, the Xcel Energy Center was completely deflated. Fifteen minutes later, the roof was blown off!
19,238 fans packed their way into the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul Sunday afternoon for the first Wild playoff game in Minnesota in far too long. The Wild treated them to an amazing roller coaster ride experience and they all headed home with a smile on their face.
The scoring kicked off for the bad guys as Johnny Oduya slipped in behind the Wild defense and put the Blackhawks on top 1-0 at the 13:26 mark of the first period. Five minutes later the Wild tied it up with Pierre-Marc Bouchard, one of the only hold overs from the 2003 playoff team, scoring on a pretty backhand shot to the top shelf.
Heading into the first intermission, the Wild had fought hard for a tie-game.
Scoring dropped off in the second period, but the excitement did not. The Minnesota Wild turned up the heat in the second and opened up a well rounded onslaught that put a dangerous Blackhawks hockey team back on their heals.
When the horn blew to end the second, the Wild had the lead in shots at 29-17, the (unofficial) lead in hits 24-6, but the score was still tied at 1-1.
Heading into the third period you could feel the ice was tilted in favor of the Minnesota Wild and 3:09 in, Zach Parise took the home ice advantage and put Minnesota up 2-1. Parise's goal, similar to Bouchard's came off a rebound in front of the goal and was taken top shelf with the backhand.
Questions can be posed from this point on as the Wild, with a 2-1 lead, adjusted the style of play and packed into the defensive zone, maybe a little early, in an attempt to protect the lead.
Chicago fought their way back into this one as the third period continued and spent much of their time buried deep with in the Wild's defensive zone. A bad change led to Duncan Keith sneaking in on the backside and allowed him a clean release on a slap shot that slipped in behind Wild goalie Josh Harding to tie the game once again at 2-2.
Heading into overtime, the momentum had definitely shifted towards the Blackhawks and most of the 19,000 fans on hand were fearing for the worst.
While the Blackhawks carried momentum with them into overtime, all it took was one opportunity for the Wild to walk away victorious and it was Jason Zucker who capitalized when the opportunity came his way.
In what was legitimately their first solid offensive possession in the overtime period, the Wild scrapped around the net and it was a falling Matt Cullen who flipped the puck outside to Jason Zucker who did the rest.
With the puck on his stick, Zucker opted to shoot from an impossible angle and the puck slipped in behind Chicago goalie Corey Crawford giving Zucker is first career playoff goal.
"Cully made a falling pass to me and I just tried to put it on net," Zucker told KFAN after the game. "It went in for me...obviously we saw up high was open and that's where we tried to put it."
After the final horn, the Wild had outshot the Blackhawks 37-27 and took advantage of a ruckus hometown crowd.
"That's a big game for us and we wanted to make sure we came out strong," Zucker continued. "That crowd was unbelieveable...you can really feed off that stuff."
So the Wild take care of home ice advantage and head into another home game Tuesday night now down 2-1 in their first round series with the Chicago Blackhawks.
"This was a huge win for us," Wild head coach Mike Yeo said after the game. "That said we are still trailing in this series. I expect to see a better team [in Chicago] next game."