ST. PAUL, Minn. -- It had been a while since much-maligned Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov had recorded a shutout in the playoffs.
How long it was, Bryzgalov wasn't sure. He just knew it was a long time.
In fact, Wednesday marks eight years exactly from Bryzgalov's last playoff shutout before the Wild's 4-0 victory over the Blackhawks in Game 3 of their second-round series Tuesday night. Bryzgalov last posted a goose egg for the Ducks in a 3-0 victory over the Avalanche on May 7, 2006.
"Thanks for reminding me," Bryzgalov said with a smile after the game. "It was a while."
Truth be told, Bryzgalov was just glad to get his first victory during a tumultuous postseason in which he was benched against the Avalanche in favor of Darcy Kuemper, only to regain the starting role after Kuemper was injured in Game 7 against the Avalanche.
But Bryzgalov was quick to deflect credit for his effort onto his teammates, who deflected or blocked a number of pucks in providing a sterling defensive effort to hold the Hawks scoreless for the first time in these Stanley Cup playoffs.
"You could see sometimes three players, three forwards down, blocking the shot, building a wall," Bryzgalov said.
"Whatever it takes so it didn't go through to the net."
The Wild blocked 14 shots in Game 3. They had 19 blocks in Game 1, but in a game played at a more measured pace, those 14 loomed large.
"It was desperation," winger Jason Pominville said. "That was the biggest thing. You have your back against the wall. You're kind of almost in a must-win situation. Guys took it to another level. Everyone feeds off that and feeds off the energy of the fans.
"You block one, you hear the crowd going and you want to block another one."
And if the shots made it through, Bryzgalov was there to stop them. That has not been the case given Bryzgalov's 3.09 goals-against average in the playoffs -- a number that includes Tuesday's shutout.
"He has been solid throughout the series," Pominville said. "He made some big saves. It's nice to see him get rewarded with a shutout like he did."
And the Wild hope Bryzgalov's next playoff shutout comes a little quicker than eight years.
"There was definitely a difference (in Bryzgalov's game)," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "This is also the first playoff game he played in our building. I thought he looked very confident early in the game. He was out challenging, aggressive in his game. Hopefully, this is definitely something we can build off of."
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