Above song is Lester McLean performing on TSN's TradeCentre
Funny start to the postgame presser tonight. Coach Mike Yeo walked in and apologized for keeping us waiting: “I was watching hockey,” he said, laughing.
Turns out the Jets-Blues game was a wild one, with Winnipeg rallying from a 4-1 third-period deficit to tie the score at 4-4. But with 63 seconds left, Barret Jackman literally scored on a dump-in past Ondrej Pavelec.
Back-breaking regulation loss.
Yeo and media relations coordinator Carly Peters were giving us play-by-play of what happened when all of a sudden Yeo looked at the camera and said, “This is the weirdest start to a press conference” he could remember.
So, onto your game, Mike.
Wild won big tonight 6-2, a game that it controlled from the opening puck drop. As Yeo said, there were some “uncomfortable moments” like the Devils unleashing about eight shots in a two-minute spurt and some odd-man rushes, but Devan Dubnyk was rock-solid with 30 saves and was especially strong in the second half of the first to allow the Wild to take a 1-0 lead.
That lead was provided by Sean Bergenheim, who was buzzing from his first shift. He was robbed by Cory Schneider, but he eventually scored with 63 seconds left on a heckuva shot from the slot set up by Kyle Brodziak.
“I didn’t look at it as a response to anything,” he said. “I want to play better every day. This was a better day. There is still stuff that can be improved and I’ll keep on working on those things.”
Yeo said he was happy for Bergengheim and he said of the fourth-line spot, “You can look at it as a punishment if you want, but it wasn’t. We felt that we were surrounding him with a couple players that would help him play the type of game that he needs to play and he responded really well.”
Jared Spurgeon was great with a goal (the winner) and assist, and he was plus-3. Thomas Vanek scored twice, Zach Parise had two assists, Chris Stewart was outstanding with a goal and assist and Jason Pominville scored as well.
Fourteen Wild players had at least a point, only Jonas Brodin didn’t have a shot.
Seventy combined shot in this fun, entertaining game.
The Devils, Yeo said, is a tough team to play against. They entered 7-2-1 in their past 10, and they are a structured team that can create turnovers and counter. But the Wild did a terrific job flying through the neutral zone tonight. Jacques Lemaire had to be sick, maybe from a Wild and Devils perspective (kidding).
But Dubnyk made some big stops early, gave the Wild a chance to settle down and take the lead and then all four lines churned from there.
Yeo felt this was Stewart’s best game so far (it was) and felt Nino Niederreiter was the most comfortable he looked on that line. He said they were dangerous all night. All four lines were, in fact.
He also said after the game Jordan Schroeder will have to stay patient. The Wild’s winning. This is the lineup for now.
“I don’t think it’ll be a challenge,” Yeo said. “It’s probably not hard for him to remember two months ago when he was playing in the minors, so he’s in the NHL right now and we told him he’s not going anywhere and we told him he’s part of the group and we’re going to make sure we include him. He’s not a forgotten player for us. We know that he’s there and we know what he’s capable of and we’ll make sure he stays sharp.”
Parise was funny after the game because Vanek may have snatched his first goal against his old team off the goal line for Vanek’s second.
“Yeah,” Parise said, laughing, when I asked if Vanek owes him a goal. “I celebrated like it was mine. They announce it as his, you kind of feel like an idiot now.”
Consider this Vanek’s payback for Parise telling me in Calgary that his sarcastic nickname for Vanek is “Selke.”
Wild didn’t take a penalty for the sixth time in history and fourth time at home.
The Wild’s now three up on Winnipeg in the first wildcard spot, three from Chicago for third in the Central and still four up on ninth because Calgary, Vancouver and L.A. keep gobbling up points. The Jets are a point from falling out.
Stewart’s 62nd multi-point game and first with Minnesota. Spurgeon’s 12th multi-point game. Mikko Koivu snapped a season-high seven-game point drought and won 13 of 17 faceoffs. He is third in the NHL with 831 faceoff wins and 12th with a .554 faceoff winning percentage.
In Dubnyk’s 200th career start, he earned his 19th win in a Wild sweater. He is 19-4-1 here with a 1.67 goals-against average and .937 save percentage. He has allowed two or fewer goals in 19 games. He ranks first in the NHL in wins, tied for first with five shutouts, second in goals-against average and third in save percentage since Jan. 15. Tonight was his 25th in a row here and 26th in a row overall, the most in the NHL since 2011-12.
Good win. Day off Wednesday. I have no clue what I’m writing for Thursday’s paper, whether it be leftover notes, a Jonas Brodin feature or believe it or not another Matt Dumba story. I know I wrote about him for Tuesday’s paper, but I gathered so many more colorful things today, I may write another. We’ll see.
Rachel is covering Thursday’s practice, so she’ll be with you then. I will talk to you next on here Friday.
On Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., I am doing another Podcast with Jim Souhan at the Local in Minneapolis. Come down and join or listen live or after the fact on souhanunfiltered.com.