ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Wild have turned their home ice into a deafening, discouraging place for opponents to play in the playoffs.
For the second straight game, they dominated the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Jason Pominville scored in the second period off the back of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford's skate, and the Wild beat the Blackhawks 4-2 on Friday night to even their Western Conference semifinal at two games apiece.
"It's been fun to play here. I don't know what it is, but we have to find a way to bring that on the road as well," said Jared Spurgeon, whose third-period goal gave the Wild a cushion for the final stretch while the fans cheered and chanted louder and louder.
"They play hard in their building, and they're good in their building, and they check well so it's tough to get momentum in here," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
Matt Cooke returned from his seven-game kneeing suspension to give the Wild a jolt, assisting on Justin Fontaine's opening goal, and Nino Niederreiter also scored.
"I think I should have fresh legs. I have to go out there and lead the way. Hopefully my energy is contagious," Cooke said.
Yes, it was. Cooke had a team-high five hits -- the Blackhawks were only credited with seven -- to help the Wild hold an intensity advantage from start to finish.
"He brings a physical presence," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. "You never know what he's going to do, so you've got to be aware of him out there."
Crawford made 27 saves, but he gave up four goals for the second straight game.
"We've just got to play the way we can: Move the puck and play with speed and skill, make the right plays at the right time," Crawford said. "Everyone's got confidence in everyone else in this room, so we've just got to play together."