Minnesota Wild Roll Past Calgary Flames With Strong 3rd Period


4. 98. 2. 112. Final

The Minnesota Wild used a 3-goal 3rd period to best the Calgary Flames and sweep the season series with its old Northwest Division rivals. Thomas Vanek  grabbed his 20th of the season and Zach Parise earned his 30th.

 Good morning, Minnesota Wild fans. The Wild gave Calgary a taste of its own medicine, using a big 3rd period to pull off another win. Devan Dubnyk remained sharp and the Wild’s balanced scoring came through with goals coming from the top-3 lines. Mikko Koivu’s 12th goal of the season stood as the game-winner in the 3rd period.

First Period:

I think the Wild did well to control the rate of play and keep the game in its offensive end in the first few minutes. Once again, the Chris Stewart – Koivu – Nino Niederreiter line looked really good in the offensive zone, a trend that continued through the game.

Calgary grabbed the first few shots on goal, with the Wild answering pretty quickly; however, the  Flames would go on the score sheet first.

After Calgary gained the zone and held it for a bit, Matt Stajan and Joe Colborne center the puck and, despite the best efforts of Jordan Leopold to break the play, Josh Jooris snagged the loose puck and buried a wrister to Dubnyk’s stick side and made it 1-0 Flames at 05:52 of the first period. It’s the last time the Flames would hold the lead in this game.

A little later in the first, Justin Fontaine set a perfect pass to Mathew Dumba during a 2-on-1. Dumba didn’t quite get a shot away before getting hooked by Colborne, sending Minnesota to its first power play.

Now, the power play units took a different look tonight. Thomas Vanek took his place back on the top unit while Dumba joined the second unit in place of Jonas Brodin and Niederreiter took back his spot on the 2nd unit. The top unit failed to get much done, although Ryan Suter made a nifty move to deny Sean Monahan on a shorthanded break.

After the top unit failed to convert, the Second unit took to the ice and Dumba reminded everyone why he belongs on the top unit. Dumba collected a cross-ice pass from Mikael Granlund, skated down to the base of the left face-off circle and fired a wrister on net that Karri Ramo looked to stop, but the puck bounced off Ramo’s leg pad and sat in the crease. Dumba found the loose puck behind Ramo and buried it home to make it a 1-1 tie at 10:28 of the first period. Dumba’s 8th goal of the season puts him 3rd among all rookie defensemen in goals scored.

After allowing an early first period goal, Devan Dubnyk returned to his usual form, stonewalling Johnny Gaudreau shortly after the power play.

Mikael Granlund took a holding penalty in the 15th minute, sending Calgary to the power play. The Wild held the Flames to zero shots on goal.

To end the period, Zach Parise had a pretty good chance all alone in front of Ramo, but couldn’t get the puck past the Calgary netminder.

Shots after one period: Calgary Flames 6, Minnesota Wild 13

Second Period:

No scoring and no penalties in the second period, though there were some good chances by the Wild. Nearly all of them came from the bottom 9 forwards.

Calgary is extremely talented at pressing from its defensive blueline to force odd-man rushes and generate chances. The Wild did well to prevent that from happening, though I feel like it limited some of its offensive ability.

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Chris Stewart popped a clear scoring chance up and over the head of Ramo, much to the malign of fans. Niederreiter got smothered on a solo rush. The Wild dominated the majority of scoring chances.

Shots after two periods: Calgary Flames 15, Minnesota Wild 28

3rd Period:

No matter the score, you simply can’t discount the Calgary Flames from anything before the 3rd period. They’re extremely efficient at scoring in the final frame and lead the league in comeback victories.

Pretty early in the first, Justin Fontaine took a heavy, heavy hit from Colborne that caught him up high. Blindsided by the hit, Fontaine went straight down the tunnel, but did return. There was no penalty on the play, and I’m not sure there needed to be one. It was a high hit, but Fontaine is way smaller than Colborne.

Fontaine returned to play a little bit later and made the Flames pay by helping the Wild take the lead. Fontaine picked up a loose puck behind the net and skated it around behind the crease. He tried once for a wraparound attempt before backing off and firing a sharp angle shot on net. The shot actually bound off of Ramo’s leg pads and flipped in to the air. Thomas Vanek used a nifty little backhander to bat the loose puck out of the air and in to the net to make it 2-1 Wild at 03:36 of the third period.

A few minutes later, Mikko Koivu nabbed the eventual game winner after some nice defensive work. Jonas Brodin poked the puck off of Gaudreau’s stick in the defensive zone, kicked it free, and skated it out to center ice where Stewart picked it up. Stewart joined his line mates in a nice little end-to-end rush and centered the puck for Koivu. The pass was just a little ahead of Koivu, but the gifted centerman leaned forward and pushed the puck through Ramo’s 5-hole to make it 3-1 Wild at 06:53 of the third period.

Brodin took a hooking penalty in the 8th minute and Calgary went back to work on the power play. Nothing doing though, as the Wild again kept them out of the zone and made them chase the puck for nearly 2 straight minutes.

The Wild wasn’t done with its scoring party, as Zach Parise wanted to reach a team milestone. Parise forced T.J. Brodie to cough up the puck at the Wild’s blue line, turned on the jets, and cruised down the slot. With no defenders in sight, Parise changed speed, made a few nifty moves, and put a wrister on goal that beat Ramo blocker side, bounced off the goal post, and popped in to the net to make it 4-1 Wild at 11:46 of the third period. Parise’s 30th goal of the season makes him just the 4th Wild player to tally that many in a single season.

After Parise’s goal, Ramo was pulled in favor of Jonas Hiller. Tough to blame Ramo for all 4 goals, but that’s hockey I guess.

Markus Granlund, the younger brother of Mikael, closed the gap for Calgary with the deflection of a Mason Raymond point blast. The puck also bounced of Marco Scandella, so Dubnyk didn’t have a clean look at it. 4-2 Wild at 15:17 of the third period.

Hiller went to the bench for an extra skater with about 90 seconds left. Jason Pominville got two good cracks at the empty net, but couldn’t get anything home. With that, the final horn sounded. Game over, Minnesota Wild win in regulation.

Final Shots on goal: Calgary Flames 25, Minnesota Wild 36

Trembley’s Take:

Another strong win for the Wild, this time thanks to a balanced attack and good team play. Like I’ve said a bunch, the Wild just keep finding ways to win.

Thomas Vanek’s 20th goal on the season marks the 10th consecutive year he’s scored at least 20 goals. I think it’s safe to say he’s beyond red-hot right now. I’m actually okay with him on the top power play unit for now because of his point streak. Vanek is a streaky scorer in the middle of a hot streak and should bring some of that to the power play.

Parise joins Marian Gaborik, Brian Rolston, and Jason Pominville as members of the 30-goal club with the Wild. Congratulations, Mr. Parise.

With the Wild’s win and a regulation loss by Chicago, Minnesota moves to within 1 point of 3rd place in the Central Division. How great would that be?

Thanks for reading, I’ll talk to you tonight as the Wild take on the Los Angeles Kings at 7:00 p.m.

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