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Minnesota Wild remain undefeated at home in the playoffs

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The Minnesota Wild have dominant at home. Friday they improved to 5-0 in the playoffs at the Xcel Energy Center with a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of their second round Stanley Cup playoff series.

“The fans are incredible,” Nino Niederreiter said. “It just feels great when we go back home and know the crowd is standing behind us. Just great feeling to know we have that.”

After completely dominating the Colorado Avalanche in Games 3 and 4 in the opening round, the Wild have beaten the Blackhawks the way they wanted to play. In Game 3, it looked like they wanted to slow the game down and grind it out. The Wild won 4-0. Then in Game 4, they looked like they wanted to open it up more. The Wild won by two goals. Neither contest really seemed in doubt.

“That shows a lot of character from our team - the way we have to play,” Niederreiter said. “We know how we cam beat those guys. We have to make sure we play the same as we play at home on the road as well. That is going to be a big challenge for us.”

Niederreiter broke a 2-2 tie seven minutes and 12 seconds into the second period for a game-winning goal. He received the pass off a little re-direction by Charlie Coyle at the offensive blue line. The re-direction gave him space to rip a wrist shot past the glove of Crawford.

“It was a great play by (Coyle) to give the puck in the neutral zone,” Niederreiter said. “He layer it perfectly to me and I had to get that goal.”

The Blackhawks (2-2) were able to erase two one-goal deficits, including a bad angle shot by Patrick Sharp that snuck through Ilya Bryzgalov within the final minute of the opening period.

The Wild (2-2) got on the board first when Justin Fontaine found a little space under the cross bar and over Crawford’s shoulder from the bottom of the circles. His shot came through a screen and into a tight area for his first career playoff goal. Matt Cooke started the play by knocking down a clearing attempt by a Blackhawk defenseman.

Jason Pominville gave the Wild their second lead of the game at the 3:51 mark of the second by throwing a puck off Crawford’s skate and in from behind the net.

Jared Spurgeon capped the scoring with a power play tally three minutes and 47 seconds into the third period. Spurgeon was wide open on the backdoor with a wide open net following a cross-ice pass from Mikko Koivu.

Both teams will resume their second Stanley Cup playoff series Sunday at the United Center for Game 5.

Three Stars

No. 3 - Jared Spurgeon. The Wild defenseman recorded a goal and an assist.

No. 2 - Nino Niederreiter. The Wild forward scored a goal.

No. 1 - Ilya Bryzgalov. The Wild goaltender stopped 18 shots.

Boxscore

Chicago………1 1 0 - 2

Minnesota……1 2 1 - 4

First Period - 1, Minnesota, Fontaine 1 (Cooke), 7:34. 2, Chicago, Sharp 2 (Hossa, Roszival), 19:21. Penalties - Morin, CHI (slashing), 7:43; Koivu, MIN (holding the stick), 13:49.

Second Period - 3, Minnesota, Pominville 2 (Suter, Parise), 3:51. 4, Chicago, Handzus 1 (Seabrook, Hossa), 6:28. 5, Minnesota, Niederreiter 3 (Coyle, Spurgeon), 7:12. Penalties - Smith, CHI (delay of game-puck over glass), 12:02; Bollig, CHI (boarding), 17:13; Spurgeon, MIN (elbowing), 17:49.

Third Period - 6, Minnesota, Spurgeon 3 (Koivu, Suter), 3:47 (pp). Penalties - Keith, CHI (hooking), :45; Roszival, CHI (closing hand on the puck), 3:28.

Shots on goal - Chicago 4-9-7 20. Minnesota 7-18-6 31.

Goalies - Chicago, Crawford (27-31). Minnesota, Bryzgalov (18-20). Referees - Dave Jackson, Dan O’Rourke. Linesmen - Derek Nansen, Derek Amell.

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