The Minnesota Wild beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-3 Thursday night at the Xcel Energy Center, on the front end of a home and home series. Hot Damn, the Wild did some things we have seen from them this season! They scored five goals, they had 40 shots on goal, Jonas Brodin scored his first NHL goal, Ryan Suter had three assists, Mikko Koivu scored two goals, and did I mention THE WILD SCORED FIVE GOALS!!! This was a fun game tonight. Minnesota now moves up to 6th in the Western Conference and into a tie with the Vancouver Canucks for the Northwest Division lead with 30 points. The Wild are now a pretty darn good 10-3-1 at home this year and 14-10-2 overall. It’s still tight in the Western Conference with just 4 points separating 3rd from 10th. But back to the 5-3 victory for the Wild. For the 6th game in a row the Wild scored the first goal of the game. Torrey Mitchell potted a roofer on a feed from Matt Cullen. The goal was Mitchell’s 2nd the helper Cullen’s 13th of the season. Just before the goal Zenon Konopka and Cody McLeod dropped the gloves and had a rather lengthy bout that was clearly won by Konopka. You’ve gotta like a guy who can throw punches with the best the league has to offer and can also win face offs better than 53%of the time and take them in the defensive zone at that! Colorado did tie the game at the end of the first on a power play marker from P. A. Parenteau his first of two on the night.
The Wild would take over the game in the second period with three goals in just over three minutes and 19 shots. Really people, when was the last time you saw our Minnesota Wild with a TWO PERIOD TOTAL OF 32 SHOTS ON GOAL!! The boys from St. Paul went up 2-1 on a Setoguchi marker with the assist going to Cullen for a total of 14 and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Yes, he who has been scratched for the last three games jumped right in with a helper. Bouchard also had two great chances at goals but just missed both times, possibly some rust? That gives PMB a total of 2 goals, 4 assists in 21 games still not good numbers for him in total. We’ll see if he can stick in the lineup with tonight’s performance. Coach Yeo said postgame, “There was definitely some good stuff going on out there”. The Wild increased their lead to 3-1 on Jonas Brodin‘s snipe on a feed from Ryan Suter that found the right corner of the net under the crossbar. Wow, that’s sure to be the first of many. Brodin was also on the cover of the Wild’s game program and his parents were in attendance from Sweden. Remember, he is only 19 years old, the YOUNGEST defenseman in the NHL and had 23:30 in ice time. That’s making the most of your evening! The lead would be cut to a single goal less than 30 seconds later on a Gabriel Landeskog goal. Minnesota came roaring back with then next score on a gorgeous play during 4 on 4 action. With a player a side in the box, Zach Parise carried the puck into the zone, dropped it back to Suter who one timed it back to Parise, who then flipped a perfect tape to tape pass across the slot to a streaking Mikko Koivu who had a completely open net to shoot at. Semyon Varlamov had bit on the Parise pass and slid over exposing an open opportunity. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo had this to say about the goal, “That was a very entertaining play to watch from three highly skilled players”. I’ll go that one better saying it’s the prettiest, most dynamic goal the Wild have scored this season. That made the score 4-2 and was Suter’s third assist on the night giving him a total of 20 in 26 games this season, that’s the second most for a defenseman in the NHL. It took him a few games to get comfortable here but since then he’s been incredible and is getting some Norris Trophy talk. Oh, Did I mention he leads the NHL in average time on ice with 27:19 per game? This guy is a stud.
The Av’s would try to make a game of it with their 3rd goal of the night more than 6 minutes into the 3rd period. Parenteau scored his second of the evening but Wild netminder Nicklas Backstrom would slam the door after that. Minnesota’s workhorse goalie totaled 29 save on 32 shots bringing his record to 12-7-2 on the season. The Wild shut down the Avalanche attempts for the rest of the night and even with Varlamov pulled for the extra attacker. Captain Koivu would hit his second wide open net of the evening, with Varlamov on the bench this time. The goal puts Koivu at 6 on the season to go with 16 assists for 22 points, tops in points for the Wild. In addition Parise and Cullen would each total 2 assists for the game and 8 Wild players would register at least a point.
This was a nice win for the Wild at home in front of a sell out crowd of 18, 989. They need to keep the momentum rolling as they travel to the Pepsi Center for a 2:00 pm Saturday rematch with these same LAST PLACE AVALANCHE. This home and home series is a chance for the Wild to put some distance between themselves and the bottom three teams in the Northwest Division. Those three being Edmonton, Calgary and Colorado. The Wild lead those teams by 5, 6, and 6 points respectively. This was a look at what Minnesota can do when they get shots on goal, crash the net, capitalize on chances, and play physical. There was no love lost between the two teams tonight, with the early Konopka-McLeod fight and a later Cal Clutterbuck vs former Wild Chuck Kobasew dust up. Even Mikko got in on the action popping former wild d-man Greg Zanon in the mouth with a gloved fist during a scrum around the Wild net. Saturday afternoon should be intense between these division rivals. I LOVE IT! Get used to it folks. Both these teams will be in the new “Midwest” division or whatever they decide to name it after realignment takes effect next season. This was a satisfying win to make a 2 of 3 homestand. Back to work tomorrow with some practice time, the power play really needs it. Really, really needs it, went 0 for 4 Thursday and 1 for 9 over the last two games. Get that rolling and look out baby! Until Saturday this is Scott Drain saying LET’S GO WILD!!