Wild looks to bounce back after Game 1 loss

CHICAGO - History often comes up in sports, but should it?

How the Wild fared in each of its Game 2s over the years isn't a great barometer of what we can expect on Sunday.

But the two most recent results likely will inspire a salty pregame talk from coach Mike Yeo.

"We have to recognize the importance of the next (game). They are going to recognize the importance of it," Yeo said. "And the areas where we weren't good enough, the guys that we know can bring more, we'll be ready to bring it."

The Wild played its worst game in Game 2 against the Colorado Avalanche. The Wild seemed lethargic at times as they watched Colorado's young stars skate through the neutral zone with ease. The Game 2 loss was preceded by a heartbreaking loss in overtime in Game 1.

Last year, the Blackhawks dominated the Wild in Game 2 and the story was similar. After a discouraging loss in Game 1, the Wild were a bit flat in Game 2.

On Friday, the Wild had their opportunities.

"On 5-on-5, I thought we had a lot of chances that we couldn't bear down on them," Wild forward Nino Niederreiter said.

The comeback came up short as Chicago's stars managed to put the puck in the net three times in the waning minutes.

Will another discouraging Game 1 loss impact how Minnesota will play in Game 2?

"We feel good," said Wild captain Mikko Koivu. "Obviously, you gotta get out there and sort it out a little bit and get moving. I thought it was a good practice, good skate."

Wild players worked on fundamentals on Saturday, including breakouts, passing through the neutral zone and most of all hitting the net. They missed many opportunities on Friday night because of that.

The danger of falling behind 2-0 in a series is something players are keenly aware of.

"I think we have a strong team," said Niederreiter. "We have to go out there and play with a lot of confidence."

Niederreiter said even though the Wild battled back on Friday, it's not an example of how they want to play in this series.

"For the most part we played a good game, but we didn't play a great game. We were in the game most of the night and we have to be sure to come out and play strong (on Sunday)," said Niederreiter.

One key area for improvement will be on the power play. The Wild was minus-2 in special teams and that is something Yeo said is not acceptable.

"Obviously, the power play can be a key in this series," Niederreiter. "We have to make sure that we bear down on them if it's a (penalty kill) or a power play. We gotta be better."

Minnesota was 0-for-3 last night on the power play, while Chicago went 2-for-5. In the morning skate on Saturday, the team worked on creating traffic in front of the net and controlling the puck in the zone.

"We need to be better in front of their net," said Koivu. "We have to be aware with the puck and with the rebounds and the loose pucks, and it's like I said, it's just overall, just a little more sharp when we get those chances."

The Wild will get a chance to show what they can do in Game 2, a game that will air on KARE 11 at 2 p.m.

"I think we have a strong team," said Wild forward Nino Niederreiter. "We have to go out there and play with a lot of confidence."

Join KARE 11 for a special pregame show, "Quest for the Cup" at 1 p.m. on KARE 11. We will also be hosting an online chat leading up to and during Sunday's game at KARE11.com.


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