Minnesota Wild Extend Point Streak to 10 Games, Beat the Carolina Hurricanes 6-3


109. Final. 6. 98. 3

The Minnesota Wild tied a franchise best 10-game point streak with a 6-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes at the Xcel Energy Center last night. Thomas Vanek’s 3 points (2G-1A) turned Valentine’s day in to VANEKtine’s day, and 3 Golden Gopher Hockey alumni scored for the Minnesota Wild.

Good Morning, Minnesota Wild fans. Powered by a surging second line, The Wild is now 10-1-2 in its last 13 games and riding a 2-game win streak. The Wild’s playoff odds are up to 50.7%, pending the result of the Vancouver – Calgary game that’s taking place as I type. Things are looking up for the Wild, who overcame a hairy second period to win in regulation. Don’t forget to check out the results of last night’s 3-1 Iowa Wild loss to the Texas Stars.  I also sincerely hope you guys had a great Valentine’s day with the person you care most about.

First Period:

It didn’t take long for the Wild to get on the board.

Justin Fontaine

, playing on the second line with Vanek and

Mikael Granlund

, forced a gap in the Hurricanes defenders, worked the puck along the boards, and forced goaltender

Anton Khudobin

to play the puck across his body and right on to the stick of Granlund. Granlund teed up for a fake shot that Khudobin bit on before Granlund passed the puck over to Vanek, who put home a quick wrister in to a wide-open net.

1-0 Wild at 01:15 of the first period.

This is a great play all around by the Wild’s new look second line. Fontaine has great hockey sense and worked tenaciously to get the puck in to the zone, and Granlund used his superior vision to set up Vanek.

Marco Scandella gave the Hurricanes the games first power play opportunity by getting a little bit too much of Jordan Staal and sitting for interference. The Wild’s penalty kill remained perfect since the all-star break, holding Carolina to one shot on goal. After the power play, Erik Haula had a great chance sailed up and over the Carolina net. I’d say that kid is snakebit, but… we’ll get to it.

Vanek put the Wild up by a pair thanks to another great play by Fontaine. After Granlund won an offensive zone draw, Ryan Suter chipped the puck behind the Carolina net where Fontaine picked it up. Fontaine faked a wraparound bid and lined a cross-crease pass for Vanek who fired a quick shot that bounced off of Khudobin’s toe before finding twine to make it 2-0 Wild at 08:17 of the first period.

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The third line of Jordan Schroeder, Charlie Coyle, and Nino Niederreiter played pretty well tonight, but there’s one thing I noticed. Coyle and Niederreiter both try to be the net-front guy, leaving only the defencemen and Schroeder to fire shots. It just doesn’t work.

Speaking of Schroeder, he earned his 2nd goal as a member of the Wild thanks to a beautiful headman pass from Scandella. Schroeder forced his way through the blue line and skated a quick circle around Minnesotan Justin Faulk before ripping a huge shot over the right shoulder of Khudobin to make it 3-0 Wild at 15:31 of the first period.

About a Minute later, the Wild got its chance on the power play. Vanek came painfully close to completing his hat trick in the first 18 minutes, but hit the crossbar from 8 feet away. Then, Coyle got stonewalled by Khudobin to keep the lead at 3.

Final minute goals are pesky, aren’t they? Carolina put themselves on the board at the end of the first when Andrej Nestrasil potted home a Jay McClement rebound that bounced fortuitously off the leg of Devan Dubnyk to make it 3-1 Wild at 19:49 of the first period.

Shots after one period: Carolina Hurricanes 7, Minnesota Wild 13

I’d like to point out that FSN reporter Kevin Gorg may have jinxed Vanek away from his hat trick: Have a look at the vine from his first intermission interview.

Second Period: 

After icing the puck twice in a row to open the middle frame, the Wild responded to Nestrasil’s goal thanks to Nate Prosser and Carolina’s Faulk.

Prosser trailed late down the right-wing wall as Vanek and Granlund set up shop along the half wall. Having no good spot to shoot, Vanek sent a great saucer pass to Prosser who put the puck right on to the leg pad of Khudobin. The puck took a lucky bounce off the long netminder’s pads and deflected off of Faulk’s stick to make it 4-1 Wild at 02:16 of the second period. Lucky bounce or not, a goal is a goal.

From there, it was all Carolina. First, Andrej Sekera cross-checked Captain Mikko Koivu in to the boards. Sekera earned a cross-checking penalty but Koivu also went to the box for embellishment. You know, because he put his own face right in to the boards.

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  • In the final minute of the 4-on-4, Jeff Skinner put Carolina back in to the game. Jonas Brodin coughed up the puck after a hit by Skinner who then raced around behind the net and took a feed from Jordan Staal that he buried through Dubnyk’s 5-hole to make it 4-2 Wild at 05:02 of the second period. 

    A minute later, sloppy defensive play by the Wild allowed the Hurricanes to pull within a goal. The Wild allowed Carolina to cycle through the offensive zone for nearly a minute before Elias Lindholm redirected a Faulk blast from the point. past Dubnyk to make it 4-3 Wild at 06:32 of the second period.

    Niederreiter, after I sang his praises on the Canadian road trip, has had a tough run the last two games. He took a double minor for high sticking Ron Hainsey right in the nose. Luckily, the Wild killed all 4 minutes of power play time. During the PK, a Brodin clearing attempt nailed linesman Steve Miller squarely in the hand. I imagine that didn’t tickle.

    Despite letting in 2 goals, Dubnyk was pretty dang sharp through the second, considering the Wild was horribly out chanced all period. The ice around Khudobin still looked freshly tended by the time the horn sounded.

    Shots through two periods: Carolina Hurricanes 20, Minnesota Wild 17

    Third Period:

    Zach Parise had an early breakaway where he registered two shots on goal, but neither made it past Khudobin.

    Remember how I said Erik Haula was snakebit? Well, he proved me wrong and scored early in the 3rd period. Haula joined Stephane Veilleux and Kyle Brodziak in a 3-on-2 against Faulk and Sekera. As Haula crashed the net, Brodziak fired a pass off to him that hit Faulk’s stick before caroming off of Haula’s skate high in to the air and in to the net to make it 5-3 Wild at 03:15 of the third period. The goal was reviewed for all of 4 seconds before being confirmed by the video crew. It hit the outside of Haula’s skate as he was putting on the brakes, so there was no way he kicked it.

    The Wild earned a power play in the 7th minute that never really went anywhere. Carolina is extremely efficient in the defensive zone.

    Dubnyk made an awesome save on Sekera from flat on his back to the delight of the home crowd. Have a look at his save of the year candidate here:

    Khudobin went off to the bench with 3:01 left and the Wild withstood tremendous zone pressure until Parise put home an empty-netter to seal the game and make it 6-3 Wild at 18:11 of the third period. Game over, Wild win and extend its point streak to 10 games.

    Final Shots on Goal: Carolina Hurricanes 27, Minnesota Wild 24

    Trembley’s take:

    I don’t think this game would’ve had the same outcome if not for Dubnyk in net and Khudobin in the other. The Wild was out attempted by nearly 20 and still found a way to win. Remember when we wanted to trade for Khudobin? How silly. Granted, Dobby is 4-1-1 in his last 6 games.

    What a great game by Justin Fontaine. No matter where they put him, he’s a threat. His 2 assists tonight lead me to believe he’ll stay on the second line for a bit. He’s got great hockey sense and always seems to find a hole in the defense.

    I’m really liking Schroeder. The more I watch him play, the more excited I am about his potential. I can’t help but feel like Vancouver slowed his development down with the constant shuffling he endured. He’s speedy and tenacious, which doesn’t quite fit the mold in Vancouver, but serves our purposes well.

    Niederreiter needs to find his game. He had a really tough night tonight. The kid is gonna be a star, but he’s gotta find his game first. The same goes for Mathew Dumba, who was one of only 2 Wild players to register a -1. He’s been  rough the last few games.

    It would’ve been really cool to see Vanek register a hat trick; however, seeing the Wild share the love a bit and get scoring from all its lines was cool too.

    Talk to you Monday, when the Wild take on the Vancouver Canucks on the road. Thanks for reading!