The Minnesota Wild beat the last place Colorado Avalanche 6-4 in an entertaining afternoon game at the Pepsi Center. With the Win the Wild move to 15-10-2 on the season and 32 points on the year. Minnesota is tied with the Vancouver Canucks in points in the Northwest Division. The Wild are first in the division on tie breakers ,therefore third in the Western Conference. Vancouver got beat 5-2 by the Detroit Red Wings late Saturday night. Minnesota Head Coach Mike Yeo summed up the game in two simple words, “Everybody Contributed.” Later in his post game comments Yeo added, “We got a tough team and we’re okay with that. Not only can we respond as far as taking care of each other, it doesn’t deter us from playing our game.” The Wild set the tone early and except for the first 10 minutes of the 2nd controlled play throughout the game. It was a quiet game for the big line of Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, and Charlie Coyle. Quiet on the scoresheet that is with Parise picking up a single assist. Eleven total players had at least a point today. The Wild came out had took everything Colorado threw at them an shoved it back down their throats. Putting up 6 goals on the road is a heck of an accomplishment in today’s NHL. Some of the stars for the Wild today were Devin Setoguchi, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Dany Heatley and Ryan Suter This was Setoguchi’s first 3 point game of the season giving him 8 goals and 9 assists total. Oh, by the way he was a +4 on the afternoon as well giving him the team lead at +7. Bouchard is making a big statement with his play, after a three games as a healthy scratch. He had a goal and an assist today and was +2. He was really flying all game long. Dany Heatley had a pair of assists on the night giving him 400 for his career. He nearly scored a pair of goals ringing two great shots off the uprights behind the Avalanche net minders. Now we turn to the Wild’s points leader Mr. Ryan Suter. The defenseman had his usual team lead in ice time with nearly 26 minutes, scored a goal and added and assist taking over team lead in points with 23 total. He is 2nd in the NHL in assists by all defensemen with 21. After the 27th games of the season the Wild have three players over 20 points; Koivu (6 g, 16 a =22 pts), Parise (11 g, 11 a=22 pts), and Suter (2 g, 21 a =23pts).
What can you say about the Minnesota Wild’s first period against the Colorado Avalanche except WOW!! It was the most dominant and highest scoring period of the season for the Wild, a 4-goal offensive explosion in the first 20 minutes. Goals by Suter, Setoguchi, Clutterbuck and Brodziak gave Minnesota a commanding lead after 20 minutes of play. The game started off feisty with a scrum at the Wild net that involved The Av’s John Mitchell and The Wild’s Tom Gilbert got involved in a push and shoving match that ended with Justin Falk and Ryan O’Byrne dropping the gloves. This was all just 32 seconds onto the game. Minnesota got the extra 2 minutes in penalties that they quickly killed off. The Wild got their first power play opportunity just a couple of minutes later and wasted no time at Ryan Suter blasted home a slap shot past John Sebastion Giguere for the opening goal. This is a club record 8th game in a row they have scored first. Right off the next face off the Wild’s Mike Rupp and Avalanche Bordeleau dropped the gloves for a lengthy bout. The scoring didn’t stop there as Devin Setoguchi scored on a Matt Cullen feed less than 2 minutes later. Minnesota picked right up where they left off byscoring their 3rd of the period as Cal Clutterbuck potted one to make it 3-0 Wild. Colorado would get in on the scoring action picking up a goal by John Mitchell at the 14 minute mark. The Wild would get it right back with their fourth goal of the period on a play by Dany Heatley and Kyle Brodziak. Heatley moved in on Giguere and snapped off a shot that hit the right post, Brodziak was crashing the net and flipped in the rebound for the score. That was a damn fine period by the Wild they outshot the Avalanche 14-8 while having their best period of the season. What a fun period to watch, great puck movement by the Wild. With the Win Wild goal tender Niklas Backstrom moves to 13-7-2 on the season. He is a true workhorse goalie.
Colorado came out firing in the second period apparently unhappy at being embarrassed on home ice in the first 20-minutes. First they parked Giguere on the Bench and put Semyon Varlamov in goal. Then they tried to make a game of it, scoring two goals by the 10:30 mark including a power play marker to cut Minnesota’s lead to 4-3. The Av’s controlled much of the second period until Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored on a beautiful, unassisted backhander at the 12:02 mark. That put the Wild up 5-3 and regained some much needed momentum. That and a timeout taken by Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo where he laid into his team, especially the defense for some second period lapses. From that point on the Wild would not surrender another goal until 18:07 had elapsed in the third. They stretched the lead to 6-3 in the 3rd period on a pretty play. Bouchard stole the puck, skated into the zone and hit a streaking Setoguchi who beat Varlamov for his second goal of the afternoon and his 3rd point of the game. Colorado would make it 6-4 late in the third but the Wild shut ‘em down after that to win by a 6-4 final. The Wild have now won 4 of their last 5 games and scored 11 goals total over the last two wins while piling up 68 shots on goal. They have scored 4+ goals in 7 contest this year including 5 of the last 9 games. Next up is a battle for the Northwest Division lead against the Canucks in Vancouver Monday night. That’ll be a tough game but the boys from St. Paul are up to any challenge this season. They are playing lights out hockey right now. They are relatively injury free, the defense is flying, the offense is scoring the sun is shining and Irish Eyes are smiling. There is not a single team in the conference the Wild are afraid of right now and they won’t back down from anyone. Happy St. Patrick’s day whether you celebrate today tomorrow or today through tomorrow. This is Scott Drain YELLING, “LET’S GO WILD!!!”