Wild jump back in series with 4-0 win over Hawks

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Matching the Chicago Blackhawks is a tough task, and the Minnesota Wild weren’t going to catch up without more presence and production from their top forwards.

After a couple of quiet games and two sluggish periods, Mikael Granlund, Zach Parise and the rest of the Wild’s skill-position players came to life.

Granlund scored twice, Parise had a goal and an assist, and Erik Haula jump-started the Wild by scoring early in the third period in a 4-0 victory over the Blackhawks on Tuesday in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal series.

“The big guys definitely came through tonight,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said.

Ilya Bryzgalov made 19 saves for his first shutout in the playoffs in eight years, and the Blackhawks had their lead whittled to 2-1 with their first loss in 2½ weeks.

“Today is a tremendous team effort,” Bryzgalov said. “We play very, very, very nice hockey.”

Game 4 is Friday in Minnesota.

The announced attendance of 19,416 was the most in franchise history, but the atmosphere didn’t match that until shortly after the second intermission. Pucks were whizzing way wide of the net, and clogged shooting lanes led to plenty of thwarted opportunities for both sides.

“They’re probably as tight a team as we’re going to play all year,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Haula finally brought the fans to their feet.

The rookie center from Finland, once a standout for the University of Minnesota, started the play from the neutral zone and finished in front of the rush for a tap-in of Justin Fontaine’s slick pass through the defense. Then less than 3 minutes later, Granlund took a pass from Jason Pominville and went to his backhand to slip a high shot past Corey Crawford’s glove for the 2-0 lead.

The crowd began to taunt the goalie with a “Craw-ford! Craw-ford!” chant, and Parise put the exclamation point on the night with a power-play goal, the first in 25 chances for the Wild over their last two playoff series against the Blackhawks. Then Granlund tacked on an empty-netter with 1:17 left.

“We know when we play like we can, we can beat any team in this league, especially here at home,” Granlund said.

Crawford stopped only 14 shots for the Blackhawks, who dropped their first two games to St. Louis in the last round before winning four in a row. Since losing to the Blues on April 19, they took the lead in all six games and outscored their opponents 23-9.

Despite outscoring the Wild 9-3 in the first two games of this series, the Blackhawks have not been able to test Bryzgalov much.

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