The Minnesota Wild had enjoyed the greatest home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs heading into Game 6 vs. the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.
It was borderline Jekyll and Hyde: In five games, the Wild had given up five goals at Xcel Energy Center. Away from it, they’d given up 28 in eight road games.
That established, the manner in which they lost Game 6 was like taking a slap to the face from your best friend: The boards of their friendly confines produced a rebound that led directly to Patrick Kane’s overtime game-winner at 9:42 as Chicago eliminated the Wild, 2-1.
Brent Seabrook sent the puck in off the end boards. It bounced right back to the Wild’s crease. Ryan Suter had Peter Regin in lockdown, so the Blackhawks forward was unable to get the puck. Kane then turned on the afterburners as Minnesota’s Matt Cooke was caught coasting, and he tucked the puck high past Ilya Bryzgalov for the final tally.
“I probably put it a little bit higher than I wanted to,” said Kane after the game, “but we got the goal. Huge win to get the series win.”
It was the fifth time in his career that Kane has scored a goal to end a series.
The crowd gave the Wild an ovation after the game, and rightfully so: They eliminated the Colorado Avalanche in seven games and pushed the Blackhawks into overtime, facing elimination. Had it not been for Corey Crawford’s ridiculously good night – combined with a little puck luck – they might be preparing for a Game 7.
Instead, it’s the Blackhawks that advance, handing the Wild their first home loss of the postseason.