Blackhawks dash Wild's Stanley Cup dreams in four-game sweep

Marco Scandella, Bryan Bickell, Patrick Kane
Minnesota Wild defenseman Marco Scandella (6) and Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell (29) chased the puck in front of Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane during the second period of Game 4 Thursday night.
Ann Heisenfelt | AP

The Stanley Cup playoffs are continuing without the Minnesota Wild. On Thursday night, the Chicago Blackhawks finished a second-round sweep of the Wild, beating them 4-3.

It's the third straight season Chicago has sent the Wild to summer break before reaching the conference finals. This time, Minnesota lost four straight to the Blackhawks.

"Very, very disappointing to go down four-nothing," Wild Coach Mike Yeo said. "But bottom line is, whenever you lose, it's usually the same feeling."

Early in Thursday night's game, Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook rushed up the right side of the ice and buried a slap shot past Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk's left shoulder.

Yeo said it was a familiar feeling that ran through each game.

"You know what it came down to, too, is we were chasing every game. We never had the lead in this series."

Over 12 periods of hockey, the Wild never once took a lead.

On Thursday, Chicago scored again near the start of the second period, quieting the St. Paul crowd.

But minutes later, Wild left winger Erik Haula settled a rebound just outside the left side of the crease and put the puck in. For a few moments, the arena buzzed.

The Wild seemed to miss opportunities throughout the game: a breakaway that was denied by Chicago goalie Corey Crawford and a chance to score on an open net in the first period.

With only minutes left to go in the game, and the Wild behind by three goals, hundreds of Minnesota fans began streaming out of the arena.

Riley Schindler, 22, watched the last few minutes play out on a screen in the hallway.

"We seem to get in a game with Chicago and let them dictate everything," he said. "It's definitely mental, they're definitely better."

The Wild scored twice in the last three minutes, but couldn't score the game-tying goal, despite going on a power play and pulling their goalie for an extra attacker.

"We did some good things, weren't able to score. And they did what they do best — when they get a chance, they find a way to make you pay," said Wild forward Jason Pominville. "Then we were able to get some late, but it was a little too late, I guess."

Chicago fan Drew Wood and his friends drove up from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for the game. They came expecting a sweep — and got just that. But Wood said the Wild are better than they played.

"Hawks always get the best of 'em. I think they're intimidated honestly," he said. "They were a team with a lot of steam and I think it's just bad luck."

The Wild don't have long to start changing that luck: the next long season begins in early October.