Good 4-3 comeback win over the Jets tonight for the first Wild victory of the Bruce Boudreau era.
The Wild improved to 14-0-2 (one was a tie) all-time in home openers by scoring three goals in the second period after falling behind 2-0 thanks to two goals in the final 71 seconds of the first.
Chris Stewart got a Gordie Howe hat trick, a natural one at that, to spark the team (goal, assist on Matt Dumba’s power-play goal 58 seconds later and fighting Chris Thorburn). It was the fourth of his career and first since 2010.
Eric Staal also scored his first goal with the Wild and it would have been his 48th career winning goal if Mark Scheifele didn’t score with 18.7 seconds left. But it made for a better story because Jonas Brodin’s insurance marker 5 ½ minutes earlier became the winner, and it was Brodin who turned the puck over for Winnipeg’s first goal. Ryan Suter turned it over with 14 seconds left, and that resulted in Blake Wheeler deflecting Dustin Byfuglien’s shot with 2.6 seconds left for a stunning 2-0 lead.
Boudreau gave the team a tongue lashing between the first and second, and the Wild responded.
Please read the gamer and notebook on startribune.com/wild, and my Mike Yeo Sunday Insider. Here are the postgame quotes, but in a bit of news, Joel Eriksson Ek went to the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa on Friday for his P-1, and now the Wild’s waiting for his background check to be done by the U.S. government.
Once approval, the Wild will have to figure out when he can debut. He’s been skating and working out, but he hasn’t practiced in a week, so I think his debut will need to wait a bit.
On Boudreau’s first intermission speed: “I think he had enough, and for good reason. Not that we had a bad first period at all – I thought we had a good first period, but you just can’t go to sleep like that in the last minute. That’s when you need to really buckle down.”
What was said after 1: “We had to take a stand, and enough was enough. We knew we were going to get to our game, and we did.”
On the end of the first: “Two little mistakes. We got past that, got our heads around that and we saw in the last two periods that it wasn’t on our mind. We knew if we played our game these next two periods, we had a good chance of winning the game. Hard work by everyone.”
On Chris Stewart igniting the team: “It’s awesome. I have high praise for Stew and what he does. Tonight he showed why he’s so valuable. He contributed lots and really got this ball rolling.”
On the Gordie Howe hat trick: “I was calling him Gordie in between second and third.”
On Jonas Brodin making amends for his mistake: “It’s one play. You learn and move on to the next one. It’s what’s ahead of you. You can’t control anything, that’s behind you. Brods did a great job of that and got rewarded in the end.”
On what was said between periods: “I don't think there was much that needed to be said. Coach said a couple things. But I think at the end of the day, it's one of those rules in hockey, you never give up a goal with two minutes left in a period and we gave up two. I thought we had a decent first period until that. So it was a little sour feeling coming in after the first. We came out in the second and I thought we responded really well.”
On coming back: “It's early in the year, two games, but I think you're going to have to have that ability when you're down a couple goals to be able to climb yourself out of a hole and throw together a win.”
On Stewart’s worth: “We saw it a couple years ago when we traded for him, we saw that he really brings that element to the team. He played really well for us that year and he's the type of guy we really need in the lineup to bring that physical presence. And he does have that ability to make plays and score goals and get to the front of the net. He had a great game.”
On playing his first regular season game here since the injury: “It's a great building to play in. It really is. It's a lot of fun. You always get that excitement with the first game of the year in your own building. It's a great place to play and we were excited to move on from that first game and kind of start over, hit the reset a little bit, start over and get back here and we were fortunately able to move past that first period and get a win for the fans. I thought it was a great atmosphere.”
Coach asked for a response- “I thought we had a pretty good first there, minus the last couple minutes there when we gave up a couple goals. But we definitely got a chance to respond and we stepped it up in the second and third and got the two points.”
When was your last Gordie Howe hat trick- “I’m not too sure. I know I’ve probably got a couple under my belt. Got the hard part out of the way first and that was the easy part.”
Did you say to yourself you’d fight after the goal and assist- “No, but we went up 3-2 there and I kind of had an idea it was going to be coming.”
Spark you brought- “For sure. That’s one of the main reasons I was brought in here and I’m just doing my job.”
On his penalty: “Got a little nervous. You’re just hoping they don’t score.”
First goal- “It was a lot of fun. It was a great play by Charlie and I went to the net hard. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot there in the first and didn’t put ourselves in a great spot. But I liked our response, obviously, in the second and definitely felt the momentum in the building shift, and we were on the attack a lot in the second period. Could have been up by a couple more, but good job by the guys staying with it and getting the joy and the win.”
What has said during first intermission- “Mistakes were made, it was obvious. But there was choice words by Bruce, I guess you could say, but they were the right things said. I think if everybody knew that if we got to our game and got on our toes a little bit more that we would feel the momentum shift, and it did. We were rewarded with some big goals and got the building energized, and it was fun to be a part of.”
Importance of first goal in the second- “Yeah, it was big. He’s shaking his head like it didn’t go in, so we didn’t celebrate as much as we wanted to. But it was a big play by him, a good breakup by Spurge and we got the odd-man break there. Made a good play getting it to the net and I think he was trying to get it over to me on the second play and just snuck by. Obviously a big one to kind of get the momentum started and we continued to kind of pour it on from there.”
Atmosphere in building- “Yeah, for sure. It’s only the beginning, but no question. Every home opener is always a buildup. It’s been a long summer to get to this point of the start of the season. You want to play well in your first home game and do the right things. It was a tough first period, but I liked our effort in the second and it’s steps going forward. But for me, personally, a lot of fun to be a part of the win tonight and hopefully keep it going.”
Booed off first, surprised- “No, we were doing two quick ones and that’s the way it can go sometimes. It was good that we stuck with it. I think everybody was just as upset as the people in the crowd with what happened there at the end of the first, and our response is what mattered. It was big in the second period.”
On what was said: “What I said will stay in the room. But in no uncertain terms it was that we can be better than what we were playing. We looked when we came off at the end of the first period, the thing that got me more upset, was we looked defeated. And we had to change that. And they did I thought in the last two periods we allowed 8 shots or something and they played really hard and they got rewarded.”
On Stewart fighting: “I was really happy with him. When we got the lead ... they were trying to bully us and Stewie stood up to their tough guy and did a great job. I thought that's what we need.”
More on Stewart: “Not too often you get the Gordie Howe Hat Trick and he got it tonight.”
On being booed: “I've been booed before. They expect some good things here and they pay their money. They cheered very loud when we scored goals.”
On Eric Staal: ‘I thought he had a great game. Like after the first period I could say that for a lot of guys. And Eric was one of them. I don't know if I've seen that much emotion on his face after scoring a goal in a long time.”
On Staal/Parise: “They both are north-south players. They want to go. And they've had enough chances to each have two or three goals after two games. That's a good sign because if we keep getting chance eventually they're going to go in.”
Brodin redeeming himself: “Yes, it worked out well for him.”
Signs of good: “I hope so. Even for the first 18 minutes, we were playing ok, but we weren’t playing with passion. You’ve got to play this game with passion. I don’t know what the final hits were, but we had five after the first period, which tells me we’re just not getting involved in the game. Sometimes it takes awhile. Hopefully we’re involved now and we’re ready to go. Last year, it took 10 games, and it’s a long month if it takes 10 games.”
System: “They’re getting it. Hockey’s not brain surgery.”
First win: “Overall, when things are going good, it’s pretty loud and boisterous and fun to be here, and there’s a lot of people here. They love their hockey, and we want to be able exciting hockey, but we want to be able to win, too. And winning at home is vital.”