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Hawks Bounce Wild From Playoffs

Patrick Kane’s opportunistic Game 6 OT winner ends Minnesota’s season

Minnesota’s Marco Scandella (6) console’s goaltender Ilya Bryzgalaov after the Wild’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, May 13, at Xcel Energy Center. (MHM Photo / Jordan Doffing)


Patrick Kane’s opportunistic Game 6 OT winner ends Minnesota’s season

SAINT PAUL—The look on their faces said it all.

Minnesota Wild players wore a blended expression of shock and dismay as they recounted the evening’s events leading up to Chicago’s Patrick Kane ending Game 6, and their season, with a goal at 9:42 of overtime on  Tuesday night in front of 19,396 mostly stunned onlookers at Xcel Energy Center.

What appeared to be a harmless dump in by Chicago’s Brent Seabrook in overtime became disastrous when the puck deflected off one of the stanchions keeping the rink’s glass in place and bounced into the slot. While Wild defenseman Ryan Suter tied up the Hawks’ Peter Regin, but the trailing Kane corralled the puck and made a nifty forehand-backhand move before roofing a shot behind Minnesota goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov who finished with 25 saves.

Suter said what was on everyone’s mind after the game: it’s too bad such a well-played game ended in such a manner.

“But that’s why you play the games because you never know what’s going to happen,” Suter added.

“I thought we played a pretty good game,” Wild forward Zach Parise said. “Other than capitalizing on some chances we played pretty solid.”

To a man, Wild players spoke about opportunities missed and feelings of emptiness and did so with good reason as the Wild actually outplayed the Blackhawks much of the night. But Minnesota’s magic ride to within sight of the Western Conference Finals, however, was derailed by a pair of untimely bounces in its defensive zone and several more on the other end.

“I thought we had our chances and that’s why it really sucks right now,” Wild captain Mikko Koivu said. “It’s been a great run, it’s been the best time of my NHL career and when it ends like that it’s an empty feeling right now.”

Goalposts, thwarted breakaways, wasted power plays and Chicago goalie Corey Crawford’s 34 saves conspired to hand Minnesota its first and only loss of the 2014 postseason. Crawford was strong in his return to Minnesota after shaky performances in Games 3 and 4, particularly on a second-period breakaway in which he stopped not just one, but two consecutive Justin Fontaine attempts.

“It hurts to lose,” Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. “We really believed we were capable of doing more than just winning this game tonight.”

The Hawks struck first when Kris Versteeg’s sharp-angle shot bounced off traffic in front of the crease and past Bryzgalov just 1:58 into the contest. Versteeg muscled the puck away from Wild defenseman Keith Ballard in the right corner and threw the puck to the net for first goal of the playoffs.

But Erik Haula scored the Wild’s lone goal for the second time in as many games when he used his speed to split Chicago defensemen Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson, beating both to the puck on his way to scoring his third of the series and fourth of the postseason at 2:29 of the second.

But Crawford would surrender no more and the Hawks got the one bounce they needed to advance to the Western Conference Finals where they will face the winner of the series between Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks.

“There’s always one team that’s happy at the end of a season, there’s one team that has a successful season,” Parise said. “We did a lot of good things to get to where we are but it’s disappointing to be ending right now.”

Minnesota Hockey Magazine Executive Editor Brian Halverson is a former member of the Minnesota Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. His work has been published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Miami Herald, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Hartford Courant, Dallas Morning News and

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