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|Minnesota Wild: Bad bounce ends season, leaves 'empty feeling'
13 мая 2014 года. Murphy, Brian. Saint Paul Pioneer Press
Ilya Brzgalov has been in Minnesota for only two months, but the Wild goaltender had seen plenty of pucks hit the glass during games and practices at the Xcel Energy Center, benign shots that ricocheted around the net or dropped dead in the trapezoid.
Nothing like the wayward bounce off a metal stanchion Tuesday night, when Brent Seabrook's dump-in kicked back out to the right faceoff circle.
It was a piece of red meat on which Chicago superstar Patrick Kane pounced before chipping it over Bryzgalov to steal a 2-1 overtime victory for the Blackhawks, who ended Minnesota's season in heartbreaking fashion.
Kane's Game 6 heroics accounted for his fourth postseason overtime winner, including the 2010 Stanley Cup clincher against Philadelphia. He was the Wild's worst nightmare this series, scoring two Game 1 goals, including the winner, before resurfacing 9:42 into overtime Tuesday.
"A bounce that goes their way and it's in the net," groused Wild captain Mikko Koivu. "It's kind of an empty feeling when stuff like that happens. Absolutely nothing we could do about that play."
As the puck bounced back into prime scoring territory, Wild defenseman Ryan Suter tied up Peter Regin and drove the Chicago center out of the play. But Kane kept charging. He deftly moved the puck from his forehand to his backhand to get Bryzgalov moving and quickly launched it over the netminder's glove under the crossbar.
"I go down on the post and I see the puck bounce back," Bryzgalov recounted. "We covered the first guy. Kane picked up the puck and just scored. Seems like it was not our luck tonight."
Bryzgalov, whose 25 saves included a sprawling stop on Patrick Sharp's second-period breakaway, lamented Chicago's fluky first goal at 1:58 of the first period.
Winger Kris Versteeg flipped the puck from behind the goal line, and it pinballed in traffic before fluttering over Bryzgalov's shoulder and dropping into the net for his first goal since March 25.
"It's too bad," sighed Suter. "The first one was kind of a bad bounce, and then that one there. But that's why we play the games. You never know what's going to happen."
The Wild outshot Chicago 35-27 and had better chances in overtime against Corey Crawford but could not bag the winner.
"That's not why we lost the game," right wing Nino Niederreiter said about the heavy-metal bad break. "We had enough chances. The bounce happened, and they capitalized on it."
It was the first overtime game of the series. Each team was 2-2 in the extra session this postseason entering Game 6.
The Wild out shot Chicago 30-22 in regulation and owned the vast majority of quality scoring chances. They crashed the net with abandon and dropped anchor on Corey Crawford, who was stingy.
Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle and Zach Parise chopped away in the crease but could not crack Crawford. Fourth-liner Justin Fontaine fired half a dozen shots, none of which went in.
Erik Haula, whose second-period dash through Chicago's defense tied the game, bypassed a glorious opportunity by firing a cross-ice pass to Fontaine in the right circle. With a gaping net in front of him, Fontaine pulled the trigger only to have defenseman Sheldon Brookbank jab a stick into his shooting lane to snuff the threat.
Bryzgalov was acquired from Edmonton at the March trade deadline to provide goaltending depth behind rookie Darcy Kuemper, a 2007 Stanley Cup winner with Anaheim who made his 47th career playoff start.
The impending free agent finished 3-6 in the 2014 postseason, including a pair of overtime losses, but afforded himself well. The 33-year-old veteran is unlikely to return to Minnesota.
"I've been so happy here," he said. "Obviously I wish we can accomplish more, but it is what it is. But my personal experience here, it's probably the best team I played (on) ... best organization."