The Minnesota Wild came back in the 3rd period with a pair of goals and beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2, snapping L.A.’s 6 game win streak. The Minnesota victory ups their lead in the Western Conference Wild Card race to 5 points over the Phoenix Coyotes. The Dallas Stars, 6 points back of Minnesota have 8 games to go, Phoenix has 7 games, while the Minnesota Wild have just 6 contests left in the regular season. The Wild for the second game in the row mounted a 3rd period comeback to win and take 2 very important points in the Western Conference standings.
Matt Moulson tied the game at 2 each with a great individual effort at the 3:54 mark of the 3rd. After being tied up in the corner he broke free, regained control of the puck, and scored on the Kings Jonathon Quick, who also happens to be Moulson’s brother-in-law. I call it “As The Wild Turns”. Can’t make this stuff up folks. Then just 62 seconds later the Minnesota Wild took the lead for good on a snipe by Captain Mikko Koivu. Captain Clutch did it again taking a beauty of a feed from Charlie Coyle and beating Quick up high for the game winner. All in all it was another gutsy, desperate, physical game for the Minnesota Wild. This was just the 2nd time all season that the Kings have lost a game they led after the 2nd period. L.A. is now 25-2-0 when leading after two periods. This was the final game of the regular season against Pacific Division teams for Minnesota, they finish 12-4-5 against those squads.
Ilya Bryzgalov gets the win for the Wild, remaining undefeated since coming to Minnesota, moving his record with Minnesota to 4-0-2. He now has a 2.16 goals against average of and a save % at.909 with the Wild. The guy who was a “rental” and a “backup” has played himself not only into the starting net minder role, but has also become a leader on the team. Bryzgalov’s calm demeanor and wealth of experience has added more to the Minnesota Wild than just a body in net. Bryzgalov had to be not only great tonight, he had to do it without a legitimate backup. Darcy Kuemper suffered some sort of an injury during the morning skate and left the ice early. The team says they think he will only be out a few days. A FEW DAYS?!?! There’s only 13 days and 6 games left in the regular season. That “few days” for Kuemper could easily become a season ending stretch. With Kuemper out and a backup from the Iowa Wild not able to make it to L.A. by game time, that meant another PTO and emergency backup role for Rob Laurie. He’s a 43 yr old goaltender who played College hockey at Western Michigan University, then went on to a 10 year pro career with 13 teams in the AHL, ECHL, WPHL, UHL, and CHL. Laurie currently works for HockeyMonkey.com. He’s become a regular at this emergency backup role having now donned the pads and sweaters for the Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks and now the Minnesota Wild. Talk about livin’ the dream! He participated in warmups and then had the best seat in the house for the Wild victory Monday night. Brygalov didn’t need any hel as he turned away 18 of 20 shots the Kings managed to get through the Minnesota Wild defense.
Once again the Wild fell behind early as the Kings opened the scoring with an Alec Martinez goal 6:30 into the opening period. He took a pass from Anze Kopitar, who took the puck from Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon, skated in past Zach Parise and beat Bryzgalov up high for the score. That would be the only goal of the first period. Parise would tie the game at one just 3:37 into the second period on the Wild’s first power play of the game. Mikko Koivu slid a pass to Mikael Granlund who made a brilliant no look feed to Parise on the right side of the net and bam, before the Kings Quick could move the puck was in the back of the net and the game tied. That was Zach’s 28th goal of the season, giving him the team lead in goals, one better than Jason Pominville with 27. Parise would add an assist on Mikko Koivu’s game winner as well. Parise now has 51 points on 28 goals and 23 assists. Koivu now has 10 goals and 39 assists for 49 total points. Jason Pominville‘s assist on Moulson’s goal in the second gives him 26 helpers on the season, to go with his 27 goals, totaling a team leading 53 points. The Kings weren’t done scoring in the second period as Marian Gaborik, the ex-Wild, made a nice pass to Justin Williams putting the L.A. Kings up 2-1 heading to the final frame. Then the Wild took over and won consecutive games for the first time since February 28 and March 3.
Monday night was a milestone game for Jonathon Blum as the defenseman skated in his 100th NHL contest. The Minnesota victory was also a milestone for Minnesota Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo. This was his 100th win as a head coach in the NHL. He’s also #2 all time in Minnesota Wild coaching victories as well. Yes, I know that’s a rather short list. The Wild didn’t “Escape From L.A.” unscathed. Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund were both the victims of head shots by Kings players Jake Muzzin and Jarret Stoll. The Muzzin hit for one will surely be looked at by the NHL office of player safety led by Brendan Shanahan. That hit was a direct shot to the head by Muzzin on a defenseless player. Muzzin sure looked like his intent was to seriously injure his target, Nino Niederreiter. We’ll just have to wait and see what Tuesday brings on that front. Overall though it was another fine performance by a Wild team that is finally playing some desperate hockey as they battle the Coyotes and Stars for the top Wild Card spot in the West and look to punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs 2014 edition. Next up on the hit parade is a little game with the Chicago Blackhawks. That’s a team the Wild have already beaten 3 times this season. That said it won’t be an easy task to skate into the United Center and leave with two points. I’ll be back Thursday morning with a preview of Minnesota Wild vs Chicago Blackhawks. Until then, enjoy this Wild win, hope for losses by the Coyotes and Stars, and pray that Nino and Granny and Kuemper aren’t hurt too badly. Until we meet again this is Scott Drain freaking out the pets and neighbors with late night/early morning screams of, “LET’S GO WILD, LET’S GO WILD!!!”