The Gophers scored three power-play goals, won 36 of 55 draws and outlasted a tough Minnesota State Mankato team tonight for a 3-2 victory.
Game 2 of the home-and-home comes Saturday night in Mankato.
Zach Budish, reunited with last year’s linemates Kyle Rau and Nick Bjugstad because he had struggled the past two weeks, scored the game-winning goal early in the third period. Nate “Quote Machine” Schmidt scored a goal and assist, Travis Boyd scored one goal, Rau assisted on two and Adam Wilcox made 23 saves. Sounds like he will play in Mankato.
Lucia fiddled with all the lines tonight. Sam Warning is hurt, so Nate Condon and Christian Isackson moved to the second line, defenseman Ben Marshall, who has been one of the best blue-liners this year, moved to the third and defenseman Justin Holl played fourth line wing.
Brady Skjei returned and was a bit rusty. Freshman Mike Reilly had another good game, while Mark Alt, who has struggled the past few weeks, was up and down. Lucia feels it’s getting used to playing with Reilly, but he said there needs to be a “give and take” because the Gophers obviously will keep playing Reilly and Skjei.
Lucia did move Marshall back to D tonight in crunch time.
The Gophers had a lot of good looks 5-on-5 tonight, and they were cooking pretty good on the power play. They were 3 for 6 (Mavericks have been scored on 11 times on 34 chances this year) and took nine power-play shots.
By the way, freshman Connor Reilly, out for the season with a knee injury, just had reconstructive surgery and attended the game tonight.
You can read the gamer for the rest of the story, but potentially bad news if you’re a Wild fan tonight. The Aeros lost 4-3 in Oklahoma City and suffered two significant injuries late in the game.
Jonas Brodin took what reportedly was a head shot from Taylor Hall, the Edmonton Oilers 2011 No. 1 pick, who was making his AHL debut. Hall said it was shoulder to shoulder and after the game told reporters he had heard Brodin broke his collarbone. Moments later, Mikael Granlund, fresh off being named AHL Rookie of the Month, took a hard hit in the corner and injured his leg.
Aeros GM Jim Mill said he should have more information Saturday, but right now, there is no update as to the injuries or the severity. So, if you’re a Wild fan, … think good thoughts and hope. But nothing is confirmed.
Fittingly if you’re a Wild fan, despite today’s inevitable news to axe the Winter Classic, it sounds like there is going to be potential bigtime movement in CBA talks in the coming days.
Par for the course with the Wild would be the lockout soon ending and two first-round picks being hurt.
The two No. 2’s from the NHL and the NHLPA are meeting in a secret location Saturday to stay away from the media to negotiate and I’ve confirmed a TSN report that the NHL informed the union Tuesday that it is willing to absorb the costs of that “Make Whole” proposition (where they pay players back for the 12.3 percent cut in share). The union hasn’t gotten details as to how yet, but that’s coming Saturday and this could be a huge concession that gets the ball rolling here toward movement.
In other words, the league had said it would pay back every player every penny they lose when it goes down to 50-50 split in revenue, but it would eventually be charged to the player share. Now it’s saying the owners would absorb that.
Way too soon to get excited yet, but this is very big news and even if they do resolve this, there are still several contractual demands the league is looking for that the union will want to tackle. I will also post an interesting CBA blog in the next couple days with proposal details that I haven’t seen reported yet.
Here are the videos of the Granlund/Brodin injuries:
Talk to you from Mankato, or when I get Granlund/Brodin updates Saturday.
More from Star Tribune
More From Russo's Rants
In the Friday morning skate, Nino Niederreiter was back with Erik Haula and Jason Pominville and Zach Parise was back with Eric Staal and Charlie Coyle.
Eric Staal scored the game-winner and Devan Dubnyk made 17 of his 35 saves in the third period as the Wild held on to beat Toronto, 3-2.
Since coming to the Wild two years ago, Devan Dubnyk is 69-41-11 with a 2.05 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and 14 shutouts in 125 games.
The Wild, which beat Edmonton in overtime on Sunday, looks to end the road trip on a winning note Wednesday against the Maple Leafs.
With an overtime win in Edmonton, the Wild improved to 1-1-2 on a five-game trip that ends Wednesday in Toronto.