Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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A big home victory before a difficult road trip

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wild game coverage Updated: January 23, 2014 - 11:14 PM

Greetings from the press box at Xcel Energy Center, about 1½ hours after the Wild finished off its 2-1 victory over Chicago.

This is the second of my two days filling in for Mike Russo, who is away seeing to a family matter. Let’s all wish him well, and I thank you all for being so patient with my attempts to fill his very large shoes.

I thought the Wild played a very, very good game tonight. Except for Jason Pominville’s goal, which came at the end of a wonder series of passes, this wasn’t a flashy game. But that’s how the Wild has to play to beat a team as talented as Chicago, something the Wild has now done three times in four games.

Here are some final thoughts on the game, in no particular order:

--This was the seventh straight game without a power play goal for the Wild. Somehow, the team has been winning more than losing during this stretch, but this has to change. The Wild had a 1-0 lead and 2 minutes’ worth of a 5-on-3 to double that lead in the first period, but didn’t really even get a good scoring chance. On the other hand, the Wild did manage to stay out of the penalty box except for Matt Cooke’s tripping penalty late in the first period. But the Wild needs to figure this out. Zach Parise’s return to action should help.

--Parise wasn’t a huge factor in this game, but he looked pretty good for a guy who had missed 14 games. And he said he felt good, too. “Actually, really good,” he said. “No hesitations, I felt like I had good energy, and good jump. So it was a good first one, I thought.”

--The line of Kyle Brodziak, Cooke and Justin Fontaine was not only very good against Jonathan Toew’s line tonight, but they scored a goal of their own. “That was a huge matchup for us tonight,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “You’re talking about a great player in Toews. If (Brodziak’s) line is able to go out and do that, that’s huge.”

--Tonight was Jason Zucker’s first real experience skating on the Wild’s fourth line. He skated with Erik Haula and Torrey Mitchell tonight. Zucker looked good on the team’s only penalty kill, and he also had a team-high three shots on goal. “I liked our fourth line a lot tonight,” Yeo said. “Zuck did a really good job. We asked him to bring what he usually brings, but bring more in some other areas. He really stepped it up.’’

That’s about it for now. Have a great Friday and a great weekend.

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