Wild vs. Blackhawks Game 4 recap: Josh Harding injury, Corey Crawford shutout has Chicago in command

USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota lost another goalie, and Chicago eased its way to a 3-1 series lead.

The Chicago Blackhawks took a commanding 3-1 lead in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series after Corey Crawford's 3-0 shutout of the Minnesota Wild.

It was not a very taxing night for Crawford, however. He needed only 24 saves in the shutout, despite Minnesota having six power plays for 12 full minutes with the man advantage.

Making things worse for the Wild, they lost their second goalie of the series after Josh Harding was hurt on a Jonathan Toews scoring chance during the first period:

Harding_medium

Harding finished the period but was replaced by Darcy Kuemper for the second period. It was Kuemper's first playoff action, and he conceded a goal on the very first shot, one he'd surely like to have back:

Blackhawksgoal_medium

That goal from Patrick Sharp, his second of the game, made it 2-0 for the Hawks and quieted the home crowd. Kuemper would settle down and stop 14 shots the rest of the period, but the Wild never generated many scoring chances.

The Wild led off the night trying to be as physical as they were in their Game 3 win, but even that effort didn't last long. It did produce at least one memorable hit, however, by Cal Clutterbuck on Brent Seabrook:

Wildhit_medium

The hits were there initially. The goals were not. As a result, the series heads to Chicago with Minnesota facing elimination in Game 5, and the Hawks haven't even gotten a goal from their top stars Toews and Patrick Kane yet.

Before the game, we pondered three questions. Now we have answers:

Will special teams play a factor in Game 4?

Only in the sense that both teams' power plays continue to fail. Before the game, they had failed on a collective 18 chances. You can add eight more after Game 4. The Wild's failure on six opportunities particularly hurt.

Will the game require overtime?

Not even close.

Will physicality be a key component to the contest?

The Wild tried early on, but physicality ended up not being much of a factor either. Clutterbuck's hit aside, it was a tame game, but no doubt a frustrating one for the Wild.

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