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Spurgeon steps up as Wild overcome Blackhawks

(The Sports Xchange) - Diminutive defenseman Jared Spurgeon enjoyed a big night as the home-loving Minnesota Wild remained unbeaten in the playoffs at the Xcel Energy Center with a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

The 5ft-9in (1.75m) blueliner had a goal and an assist as the Wild tied up their best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final series at 2-2 against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Spurgeon helped break a 2-2 tie in the second period, setting up right winger Nino Niederreiter's go-ahead goal, and then scored on a power-play in the third period for Minnesota, who improved to 5-0 at home in the post-season.

Right wingers Justin Fontaine and Jason Pominville also scored for the Wild, who got 18 saves from goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.

Chicago, which was shut out in Game Three, showed more offensive spark, twice rallying to tie the game on goals by left winger Patrick Sharp and center Michal Handzus. Goalie Corey Crawford made 27 saves.

"They get the crowd into it, and they get energised," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told reporters.

"But they play hard in their building and they're good in their building, and they check well so it's tough to get momentum in here."

Wild coach Mike Yeo added: "There were a lot of responses tonight. For me a great response was by (Bryzgalov) too. He makes a huge save on the breakaway and another huge save in the third period."

Spurgeon, who had five goals in 67 regular season games, got his third goal in 11 playoff games early in the third on a man advantage after Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival was called for closing his hand on the puck.

"Any guy can be that guy on any given night, and if you get a chance to make that play and are able to capitalise it's great for the team," Spurgeon said.

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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