Wild coach Bruce Boudreau had no clue what words were spilling out of his mouth.
“I just know I’m not happy,” he said.
But the message he relayed to his players during the first intermission Wednesday certainly resonated.
After what Boudreau dubbed an “embarrassing” start by the Wild in which it was overwhelmed by the Blackhawks in the first period en route to a one-goal deficit, the team cleaned up its play the rest of the way to rally for a critical 2-1 win over its division rival at United Center.
“To their credit, I thought they really buckled down and played really hard,” Boudreau said.
For the Wild to be down just one goal after one period to the Blackhawks was a surprise – or as Boudreau put it, “amazing.” It was outshot 14-5 and Chicago got off 41 shot attempts compared to just 11 for the Wild.
But 13 saves by goalie Devan Dubnyk helped keep the Wild afloat and when the team returned for the second period, it was much tighter and started to transition the play to the other end of the rink.
“Bruce came in right away and let us know that wasn’t going to do it and if that’s how we wanted to play, it was going to be a long second half of the year,” Dunbyk said.
Here’s what else to watch for after the Wild’s win over the Blackhawks.
- Not only did the blue line help Dubnyk limit the Blackhawks to just one goal, but it also provided all the offense.
Ryan Suter scored the game-winner in the third after Jonas Brodin tied it at 1 in the second.
Overall, the unit combined for three points – improving it to 100 on the season.
“Our blue line is pretty up there in points,” Boudreau said. “So we get a lot of points from our blue line, and that's what we need.”
- It looked like the Blackhawks’ goal could have been wiped off the board after the Wild challenged it to determine if the play was off-side, as replay showed an awfully close call.
“From the tape we get and from the angles we saw, I thought it was definitely off-side because these things aren't spoken about lightly because I knew we were down 1-0 playing like that and then they're going to have a power play," Boudreau said. "So we made the choice to call, and I was pretty surprised when it came back inconclusive.”
Because the Wild’s challenge was unsuccessful, the team was assessed a two-minute delay-of-game penalty.
The call further stoked the debate about the off-side rule, as this was the second time in the past two nights in which a goal in a key game was looked at; on Tuesday, the Oilers had a potentially game-tying goal erased in the third period in an eventual loss to the Predators because the play was determined to be off-side.
“I’d like to see [the rule] tweaked where there's never a controversy," Boudreau said. "To me, all that means is if part of the leg was on the line, then it would be an easy call.”
- Will this road victory spark the Wild to better results away from home?
It’ll take a while for the Wild to find out, as it isn’t a visitor again until Jan.25, but an improved showing is a must for the team in the second half.
“It's great,” Boudreau said of the Wild posting its first road win since Dec.19. “We have a day off tomorrow, too, and then hopefully the momentum can carry us through this weekend.”