The Minnesota Wild beat the Chicago Blackhawks, 2-1, at the United Center on Tuesday to clinch a playoff spot. It was the Wild’s 11th straight road win.
That’s unheard of.
“In tough buildings, too,” Minnesota left wing Zach Parise pointed out on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I think Nashville twice and St. Louis and now Chicago. It hasn’t been easy places, either.”
The game was scoreless through two periods, but Mikael Granlund scored midway through the third to give Minnesota a 1-0 win. Parise and Jason Pominville assisted on the goal.
“We had just had a 2-on-1 right before that, which we should have scored on,” Parise said. “So we got the draw and Pominville just shot it toward the net and it hit my skate and (we) got a rebound and then Granlund kind of came free and put in the rebound. With how well we were playing in the game and how tight it was, it was so rewarding to get that one and put that one in for him.”
Jason Zucker added a goal less than four minutes later to make it 2-0. Zucker (collarbone) was playing his first game since Feb. 9.
“He’s been out for awhile,” Parise said. “I couldn’t tell you how long, but it seems like it’s been about four months. So to get him back in and score right away was huge for us in a big time of the game for us to score. But it was really a playoff atmosphere. Not a lot of room out there and two teams that had a lot on the line. It was good for us. They’re already in, but for us to clinch a spot and get into the postseason was big.”
Chicago’s Bryan Bickell scored a late goal to make it 2-1, but Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk didn’t get rattled. He finished with 32 saves and held serve in the final two minutes.
“He played great, as he has for the last four of five months,” Parise said. “It got a little interesting at the end when they popped that one in. But just like we did all game, we played really well in our own zone and blocked a lot of shots and broke up plays. So from goaltending out, we played really solid defensively.”
Minnesota (45-27-8) closes the regular season with road games against Nashville (47-23-10) on April 9 and St. Louis (49-24-7) on April 11. Wild fans have to be happy that the team has been so successful on the road. After all, if you can win on the road, anything is possible in the playoffs.
“That’s so important,” Parise said. “Last year, I think we only won one road game in the playoffs. That was Game 7 of the first round. So just to have that confidence that we can win on the road is really big for us. I know playoffs is a whole different animal, but just to know we can come into these hard buildings and win games, it makes you feel good. It’s good for the psyche.”