The odds got even smaller when Josh Harding was pressed into duty when Niklas Backstrom was injured during warmups.
The Masterton Trophy candidate was spectacular for Wild stopping 35 shots, but took a 2-1 overtime loss Tuesday at the United Center.
The Wild (0-1) had numerous opportunities to win the game in overtime. Jason Zucker hit the cross bar off a face-off win. Zach Parise hit the backside of Niklas Hjalmarsson before the puck trickled wide of the net.
The Blackhawks (1-0) chipped a puck just high enough to get it over Ryan Suter and down the ice. Victor Stalberg chased the puck down in the Wild's end and fed a pass to Bryan Bickell. The Blackhawks power forward moved back across the grain on Harding and slid the puck under Harding for the game-winner.
The stats look like a dominating game by the Blackhawks, but the Wild controlled the pace of the game and limited the really good scoring chances. The Blackhawks were forced to spend most of their offensive to the outside.
Cal Clutterbuck got the Wild on the board first with a wrist shot from the face-off dot to the goaltender's right that glanced off Corey Crawford before going into the net.
The whole reason the game went to overtime was because of a horrible goaltender interference penalty on Parise by referee Brad Meier. The Wild's assistant captain was shoved into Crawford by two Blackhawk defenders and still nearly stopped before making contact. Marian Hossa slid a shot under Harding from a sharp angle to the goaltender's right.
That call combined with an equally horrible call, again by Meier, on Mikko Koivu got the Blackhawks in the game in the first period and early in the second.
The Wild lost starting goaltender Backstrom due to a lower body injury in warmups. Mike Yeo did not have an update on his injury or status moving forward.
No. 3 – Cal Clutterbuck. The Wild forward scored a goal.
No. 2 – Bryan Bickell. The Blackhawks forward scored the game-winning goal.
No. 1 – Josh Harding. The Wild goaltender stopped 35 shots.
Minnesota…..1 0 0 0 – 1
Chicago……..0 1 0 1 – 2
First Period – 1, Minnesota, Clutterbuck 1 (Stoner), 4:48. Penalties – Koivu, Min (hooking), 7:22.
Second Period – 2, Chicago, Hossa 1 (Kane, Keith), 2:06 (pp). Penalties – Parise, Min (goaltender interference), :11; Roszival, Chi (hooking), 2:43; Keith, Chi (slashing), 18:04.
Third Period – None. Penalties – Hjalmarsson, Chi (high sticking), 6:52.
Overtime – 3, Chicago, Bickell 1 (Stalberg, Oduya), 16:35. Penalties – Oduya, Chi (high sticking), 7:34; Gilbert, Min (holding the stick), 8:42.
Shots on goal – Minnesota 6-7-7-7 27. Chicago 6-10-12-9 37.
Goalies – Minnesota, Harding (35-37). Chicago, Crawford (26-27). Referees – Tim Peel, Brad Meier. Linesmen – Darren Gibbs, Pierre Racicot.