Wild 3, Blackhawks 2 (OT)

Jess Myers, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Rookie Jason Zucker scored early in overtime for the Minnesota Wild, lifting them to a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of their opening round playoff series.
Zucker's shot from the goal line to the left of the Chicago net found a tiny gap behind Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, winning the game for the Wild, who dominated for long stretches of the game but needed overtime for their first playoff win in five years. Chicago leads the best-of-seven series 2-1.
Tied 1-1 after 40 minutes, the Wild took an early third period lead when Zach Parise's rising backhand shot into the upper right corner of the net eluded Crawford's glove. It was the first goal of the playoffs for Parise, who played a key role in the Devils' march to the Stanley Cup Finals last season before signing with his hometown team as an unrestricted free agent in July.
But the Blackhawks controlled the puck for much of the final five minutes in the third and finally tied the game when a Duncan Keith slap shot from 40 feet out, deflected off a Wild defender and past goalie Josh Harding, who had 25 saves for the Wild.
Chicago dominated long stretches of the first period and took the early 1-0 lead on Johnny Oduya's first goal of the playoffs. With Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews occupying the defense on both sides of the net, Patrick Kane was able to zip a pass to Oduya, who shot from high in the left circle, through a crowd and past Harding.
Minnesota finally gave the eager and noisy crowd a reason to roar late in the first when Cal Clutterbuck got a shot on Crawford, and Bouchard was able to backhand the rebound high into the upper right corner of the net. It was also the first goal of the playoffs for Bouchard, who is the only member of the Wild that played 10 years ago, the last time Minnesota won a playoff series.
Both goalies were making their third start of the playoffs, which was not a surprise for Chicago, where Crawford started 28 games during the regular season. Harding's presence in net was unexpected, after he started just three games and was on injured reserve for 33 games, dealing with the effects of multiple sclerosis which was diagnosed during the NHL lockout. Niklas Backstrom, who started 41 of 48 regular season games for the Wild, was hurt in warmups prior to the first playoff game and has not played since.
Crawford finished with 34 saves for the Blackhawks, who won the first two games of the series in Chicago. Game three is Tuesday night in Minnesota.
NOTES: Sunday's game was the first time the Wild have hosted a game in May in nearly a decade. On May 12, 2003, the Ducks beat Minnesota 2-0 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, a series that Anaheim swept 4-0. ... Center Dave Bolland and goaltender Ray Emery both made the trip to Minnesota, but neither one was in uniform for the Blackhawks on Sunday. Bolland is recovering from a groin injury, and Emery has a lower body ailment. Neither has suited up in the playoffs for Chicago. ... Minnesota's AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros, played their last game ever on Saturday, a 7-0 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Aeros are moving to Des Moines in the offseason and will be renamed the Iowa Wild. The parent club called up forwards Jake Dowell, Stephane Veilleux and Mikael Granlund from the Aeros after the Saturday game. Veilleux played on Sunday, while Granlund and Dowell were healthy scratches.

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