The Minnesota Wild have gone from out of the playoff picture to third in the Western Conference in a single night. The Wild beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 at the Xcel Energy Center Sunday night. Minnesota is tied with Vancouver with 28 points but hold first in the Northwest Division by having more regulation wins. The Wild are now 13-9-2 on the season while the Canucks fall to 11-7-6. Minnesota played perhaps their most complete game of the year with great defense and hungry offense. The wild struck first with Zach Parise scoring his 10th goal of the year just 24 seconds into the game. Parise scored 2 goals on the night, added 1 assist and was a +2. Minnesota never looked back and never trailed in tonight’s contest after scoring a pair of first period goals, the second coming from rookie Jason Zucker. Matt Cullen found Zucker steaming down the slot and put the puck on the kids stick as he beat Schneider for his 4th goal of the season. The Wild came to play tonight as Head Coach Mike Yeo said after the game, “We have everybody contributing right now.” The Wild got goals tonight from their top line, from the second line and from the defense. Minnesota scored 5 on 5 and on the power play. They played a 60 minute game tonight.
The first period was a battle as the Canucks tried to out muscle the Wild after the initial goal. There were a total of 10 penalties for 26 minutes in the first stanza. The majority came after a scrum at the mouth of the Canucks goal that resulted in 6 roughing minors. Wild captain Mikko Koivu and Alexandre Burrows started chirping, pushing and shoving with the Wild coming to the defense of their captain. Burrows tried to get Koivu to drop the gloves but Mikko was having none of that. Less than a minute later Mike Rupp for the Wild and Tom Sestito did drop the gloves with Sestito getting beat up for his efforts. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said, “I loved the way we started the game.” “Guys are sticking up for each other, sort of that pack of wolves mentality.” After the dust had cleared there were 5 Wild players in the penalty box at one time. When the Canucks pushed the Wild pushed back harder. Minnesota net minder Niklas Backstrom was strong in net turning away all 12 Vancouver shots he faced in the first. Even with a couple of power play chances in the first period the Wild penalty killers were up to the task. Vancouver ended up 0 for 4 with the man advantage on the night.
Minnesota came out just as hard in the second as they did in the first. The upped the lead to three goals on a beautiful Jared Spurgeon slap shot on a feed from Ryan Suter. The power play goal was the young defensemans third of the year, while Suter’s assist total grew to 17, tops on the Wild. The Canucks would cut into that lead with a goal from Chris Higgins a few minutes later. The Wild still controlled play throughout the 2nd period much as they had in the first. Vancouver would get most of their shots throughout the night from the perimeter with just few chances in close to the crease area. At the end of two periods Minnesota led 3-1 on the scoreboard while out shooting Vancouver 11 to 7 for the period and 22 to 19 overall.
The Wild came out fast again in the third period looking to put the game out for reach. Before they could, Vancouver got a goal from Henrik Sedin after the puck deflected off of Ryan Suter high over Backstrom and was batted home by the Canuck forward. With the score now 3-2 The Wild responded with several great scoring chance including a couple that rang off the pipes behind Canucks goalie Corey Schneider. The Wild would score their fourth goal on a play that started with an amazing effort by rookie Charlie Coyle. He fought his way through a double team and check byDan Hamhuis, made a diving stop of a puck heading for the blue line and then after a puck battle passed to Suter at the point. Suter’s shot was blocked by Vancouver net minder Schneider, Parise found the loose puck and jammed it home for the goal. That put the Wild up 4-2 ending the scoring for the night. The Canucks would fire several more shots at Backstrom but none found their was past him. For the Game the Wild outplayed the Canucks in almost every category. The Wild out shot them 32 to 27, power play goals 1-0, hits 23-20, faceoff wins 29-25, take aways 6-4, blocked shots 12-7 and fights 1-0. All in all it was a fun game for the 18,846 on hand at the Xcel Energy Center.
Minnesota now has Monday off before the Anaheim Ducks come to town on Tuesday. Minnesota looked hungry and tough to play against tonight. I hope that continues as they face the 2nd place team in the Western Conference on Tuesday. Minnesota knows that they can play with and beat the best the west has to offer. They just need to keep coming at teams hard and play their game. they have the firepower offensively and the defense to shut down teams top lines. Tonight the Wild looked confident and aggressive. Now it’s time to keep that momentum rolling. GonePuckWild.com will be here with all of your Minnesota Wild news and information. Next up on the menu is duck. LET’S GO WILD!!