Friday, May 9, 2014
W2W4: Blackhawks vs. Wild (Game 4)
By Scott Powers
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild face off in Game 4 of their Western Conference second-round series at the Xcel Energy Center on Friday. Here's what to watch for:
Wild forward Matt Cooke returns to the lineup after serving a seven-game suspension for a knee-to-knee hit on the Colorado Avalanche's Tyson Barrie in the first round. Cooke had 10 goals, 18 assists and a plus-8 rating in 82 regular-season games. He is expected to play with Erik Haula and Justin Fontaine on the third line.
Wild forward Matt Moulson will miss Game 4 due to a lower-body injury. He has one goal, two assists and a zero rating in 10 playoff games.
Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw will sit out a third consecutive game due to a lower-body injury. It's unknown whether he'll return for the series.
The Wild are 4-0 at home during the playoffs. They remained unbeaten in the Xcel Energy Center with a 4-0 win over the Blackhawks in Game 3.
Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov recorded his fourth career playoff shutout in Game 3, stopping all 19 shots he faced. He has a 3.09 goals-against average and .860 save percentage in six playoff games this season.
The Blackhawks have been held to less than 20 shots on goal twice this season, and the Wild have done it both times. The Blackhawks had 19 shots on goal against the Wild on Dec. 5 and again on Tuesday. The Blackhawks are averaging 23 shots on net in the series. The Blackhawks head into Game 4 looking to get to get more rebounds and have more of a net-front presence.
The third period has been where games have been decided in this series. With the game tied 2-2 in the third period in Game 1, the Blackhawks scored three third-period goals for the win. The Wild had pulled within a goal of the Blackhawks early in the third period in Game 2, and the Blackhawks responded with two goals for the win. The Wild scored all four of Game 3's goal in the third period.
There hasn't been much difference in shot totals between the two teams in the series. The Blackhawks have had a 53.6 Corsi percentage (89 shots for) and the Wild have had a 46.4 Corsi percentage (77 shots for) with the game tied or within a goal in 5-on-5 situations in the three games, according to extraskater.com.
The Blackhawks will look for Sharp to break out of his slump. He has one goal and a 3.2 shooting percentage in nine playoff games. He led the Blackhawks with 34 regular-season goals.
Both teams have scored on the power play in the series. The Blackhawks are 2-of-8 on the power play, and the Wild are 1-of-8.
Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy is expected to play in Game 4 after being a healthy scratch in Game 3. He had played 296 consecutive games before being made a healthy scratch.