DENVER (AP) — The Minnesota Wild are a little weary and worn out after winning a grueling seven-game series.
There's no time to rest, though. Not with the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks waiting on deck.
The Wild are actually looking forward to another crack at the Blackhawks, who ended their season a year ago.
Minnesota will be heading into the series with plenty of momentum after eliminating the Colorado Avalanche on Nino Niederreiter's goal 5:02 into overtime for a 5-4 win in Game 7 on Wednesday night.
"Let's not stop here," said Wild coach Mike Yeo, whose team starts its series in Chicago on Friday. "Let's keep going. We know we've got a tough test ahead of us with Chicago. They've been sitting there waiting for us. We'll start preparing and get ready for that challenge."
The series against the Avalanche may have been the perfect preparation for Chicago's speed. After all, Colorado is built a lot like the Blackhawks, with fast, youthful players.
But the Wild weathered the rushes of rookie Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog.
Now, it's on to slowing down Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, who helped the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues in six games.
"The challenge will be how do we respond after such a high here tonight, being able to reset and get refocused for that next task," Yeo said.
An even more vital question: Who will be in goal?
Ilya Bryzgalov entered the game midway through the third period after starter Darcy Kuemper left with an undisclosed injury. Kuemper tried to talk his way into remaining in the game, but Yeo made the decision to take him out.
"We weren't comfortable he was ready to go," Yeo said. "We'll find out more."