Game 4: Wild hope home dominance continues against Blackhawks


If you're the Minnesota Wild, you're happy Game 4 is at home.

Minnesota trails the Blackhawks 2-1 in the Western Conference Semifinals, but they'll get a chance to even things up on home ice Friday night in Game 4.

And that Xcel Energy Center rink has been kind to the Wild during these playoffs – the team is undefeated (4-0) there, and 1-5 on the road.

YAHOO! Sports looked at the difference in production when Minnesota is in St. Paul compared to outside the state's borders.

The Wild have given up just four goals in four home games this postseason – but 26 goals in six road games. They've given up just 16 shots on goal while at the Xcel, but 26.3 away from it. And on offense:

"It extends to the players," YAHOO! writes. "Zach Parise on the road: 5 points in six games; at home, 8 points in 4 games, including three goals. Mikael Granlund has 2 assists in six road games; he has 4 goals and an assist in four home games, and so on."

That dichotomy was on full display in Game 3, when the Wild blanked visiting Chicago 4-0 for their first win of the series. Ilya Bryzgalov (2-4, 3.09 GAA this postseason) stopped all 19 shots he faced, and Erik Haula got the Wild on the board with a goal early in the third period. It was the first time the Wild led a game in the series.

Wild.com notes the team that has scored first in each game this series has ended up winning.

The Blackhawks, the Chicago Tribune reports, see Friday night as an opportunity to get their "mojo" back. Their head coach, Joel Quenneville, tweaked the lines after Game 3 in search of a spark.

Whether they can do so against a tough home team like the Wild remains to be seen.

Wild Lineup Changes

Matt Cooke will be back from his seven-game suspension for delivering a knee-to-knee hit on Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie in the quarterfinals. Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press says head coach Mike Yeo expects him to slide right back into the third line, with no need to adjust his role or playing time after being off for so long. It also touches on Cooke's role as an off-ice supporter during his suspension.

The Star Tribune says Ryan Suter will play as well, after suffering an arm injury in Game 3.

Matt Moulson will be out for the Wild, with a lowerbody injury he's been dealing with for awhile, according to Yeo. Cooke will take Moulson’s spot on the third line next to Haula and Justin Fontaine.

No other lineup changes are expected for the Wild in Game 4.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, will once again be without forward Andrew Shaw, ESPN reports. He's been out since taking a hit from the Wild's Clayton Stoner in Game 1.

Corey Crawford should be in net for Chicago. He's got a 1.99 GAA in these playoffs with a .929 save percentage.

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