The eighth-seeded Minnesota Wild will try to get on the board in the Western Conference quarterfinals Sunday, as their best-of-seven battle against the Chicago Blackhawks moves to St. Paul for Game 3 at Xcel Energy Center.
The powerful Blackhawks, who won the Presidents' Trophy with the league's best record this season, needed overtime to take Game 1 but then posted a 5-2 triumph in Friday's meeting at United Center.
After falling behind 2-0 on the road, the Wild will try to turn things around on home ice, where they were 14-8-2 during the regular season. However, Chicago isn't likely to be intimidated, considering the Blackhawks went 18-4-2 as the visiting team in 2013.
Chicago led the Wild by a 2-1 score after 40 minutes in Game 2, but Patrick Sharp scored twice to begin the third period and stake the home team to a 4-1 advantage. Minnesota cut the deficit to 4-2 with 3:31 left in the third, but Bryan Bickell, who scored the OT winner in Game 1, added an empty-netter to seal the win for Chicago.
"It's always nice to score at home and in the playoffs," said Sharp. "That second one helped put us up by three and that was big. Hopefully these are just the first of many in this run."
Corey Crawford stopped 26 shots to back the two-goal performances from Sharp and Michael Frolik. Patrick Kane and Andrew Shaw each added two helpers for the Blackhawks, who won the Stanley Cup in 2010 before losing in the first round in each of the past two postseasons.
Devin Setoguchi and Marco Scandella each scored on Friday for the Wild, who saw Josh Harding get tagged for four goals on 47 shots.
"As much as we want to forget about this one because it's going to sting, we have to remember that they brought their best game tonight," said Setoguchi. "They finished the season as the best team in the league and they showed it. We just have to regroup and be ready to play our best game on Sunday."
Harding has been forced into a starting role in this series since No. 1 goaltender Niklas Backstrom was scratched prior to Game 1 after sustaining an undisclosed injury in pre-game warmups.
Backstrom was back skating with the team at Friday's pre-game skate, but he didn't suit up for that evening's game and Darcy Kuemper served as Harding's backup instead.
Although Backstrom appears close to returning, Harding is expected to get the start again in Game 3.
For Chicago, forward Dave Bolland and goaltender Ray Emery will miss Game 3. Emery's injury means Henrik Karlsson will once against suit up as the backup to Crawford.
Although the Blackhawks and Minnesota North Stars faced off six times in the playoffs over a 10-year stretch from 1982-91, this is the first postseason encounter between Chicago and the Wild.
The Blackhawks won two of three meetings against Minnesota during the season series and Chicago also gained a point in the only loss, a 3-2 shootout setback in St. Paul on Jan. 30.
Game 4 of this series is scheduled for Tuesday night in St. Paul.