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           === Wild try to even series with top-seeded Blackhawks ===
 
 (Sports Network) - The eighth-seeded Minnesota Wild will try to build off
 their first playoff win in five years when they host the Chicago Blackhawks in
 Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.
 
 The Wild ended a four-year playoff drought this spring, returning to the
 postseason tournament for the first time since 2008. But, Minnesota lost the
 first two games of the best-of-seven series in Chicago before breaking through
 with Sunday's Game 3 overtime win at Xcel Energy Center.
 
 It was the first playoff victory for the Wild since beating the Colorado
 Avalanche in Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals on April 14, 2008.
 The Avalanche claimed the next three games to win that series in six.
 
 Minnesota lost a 2-1 overtime decision to the Blackhawks in Game 1 before
 dropping a 5-2 decision on Friday at the United Center to fall behind 2-0 in
 the series. The Wild finally got on the board in the series on Sunday,
 however, earning a 3-2 overtime decision on Jason Zucker's tally 2:15 into the
 extra session.
 
 Zucker, who hit the crossbar in a Game 1 overtime loss, fired a loose puck
 home from along the goal line to the left of the Chicago net for his first
 career playoff marker. Matt Cullen did most of the work prior to the score,
 battling a Blackhawks defender behind the cage and slipping the puck in front
 while falling to the ice.
 
 "(I wanted to) jump into the glass," Zucker said when asked what his initial
 reaction was following the end of the game.
 
 Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Zach Parise also lit the lamp for the Wild, while
 Josh Harding made 25 stops to earn his first career playoff victory.
 
 Harding has been forced into a starting role in this series since  netminder
 Niklas Backstrom was injured in warmups prior to Game 1. Backstrom returned to
 skating on Friday, but his undisclosed injury kept him from even suiting up as
 the backup in either Game 2 or 3. Darcy Kuemper has been serving as Harding's
 backup instead and that could be the scenario again tonight.
 
 However, with Harding posting a solid 2.41 goals-against average and terrific
 .928 save percentage in the first three games of this series, it's unlikely
 head coach Mike Yeo would make the switch to Backstrom even if he was ready to
 go for Game 4.
 
 Johnny Oduya and Duncan Keith scored for the Blackhawks, with Keith's tally
 tying the score at 2-2 with just 2:46 remaining in regulation. Patrick Kane
 assisted on both goals and Corey Crawford posted 34 saves in defeat.
 
 "They played like they had to win, and we didn't," said Chicago head coach
 Joel Quenneville.
 
 The top-seeded Blackhawks, who went 18-4-2 as the visiting team in 2013 to
 help them claim the Presidents' Trophy, will try to rebound with a win in Game
 4. A victory tonight would set up a potential series-clinching contest when
 the conference quarterfinal battle returns to Chicago for Game 5 on Thursday.
 
 The Wild were 14-8-2 on home ice during the regular season.
 
 Although the Blackhawks and Minnesota North Stars faced off six times in the
 playoffs over a 10-year stretch from 1982-91, this is the first postseason
 encounter between Chicago and the Wild.
 
 The Blackhawks won two of three meetings against Minnesota during the season
 series and Chicago also gained a point in its only loss, a 3-2 shootout
 setback in St. Paul on Jan. 30.
 
 
 
 05/07 11:07:16 ET