As you can imagine – and know – much-needed ‘W’ Tuesday night for the Wild.
3-2 victors over the San Jose Sharks, are in a skid triggered by the loss to the Wild on March 5. Since then, the Wild hasn’t played well either yet figured out a way to snap a five-game losing streak and win for a third time in 11 games this month.
Magic number for the Wild to make the playoffs a fifth consecutive season is a measly two points now – that’s a combination Wild points or lost points by the 9th-place Los Angeles Kings.
So, a Wild win over Philadelphia, regulation loss by the Kings or even overtime/shootout losses by the Wild and Kings would get it done Thursday.
Career-high 37th win for Devan Dubnyk, who matched Niklas Backstrom’s franchise record.
First season series sweep by the Wild over the Sharks in franchise history (3-0).
Couple housekeeping items before I continue:
1. I spent some time tonight watching the game with Josh Harding, and I’ll write my upcoming Sunday column on the former Wild goalie. Was good to see him.
2. Kevin Falness and I are co-hosting for Paul Allen on KFAN from 9-12 Wednesday. Huge guest list includes Martin Hanzal, who scored his first goal with the Wild tonight, Harding, former NHL coach and GM/President Doug MacLean (always a fun guest), ESPN and TSN analyst Pierre LeBrun and Gophers forward Vinnu Lettieri.
We’re doing the show from the radio studio at the arena, so I may duck out a few times after 11 to check in on practice.
Speaking of which, real quick blog to finish here because I have to be back at the rink in eight hours.
Bruce Boudreau comically opened his presser tonight by saying, “I’ll stay here for the whole one.”
As you probably know, he huffed and puffed away from the Wild backdrop after two questions following Sunday’s loss to Winnipeg. It was actually a question about the Wild’s “resiliency” that set him off, so naturally, I took the opportunity to open the presser tonight by asking about the Wild’s “resiliency.”
“It would’ve been easy to go ‘Uh-oh, here we go again,’ with the one behind the net at the end of the second, but I thought in the third we checked and checked and checked and we finally succeeded,” Boudreau said.
Boudreau was referring to Dubnyk’s puck-handling mistake on a dump-in behind the net that resulted in Patrick Marleau’s goal with a minute left in the second – and 15 seconds after Charlie Coyle scored to make it 3-1.
That capped a crazy sequence in which the two teams combined for four goals in 63 seconds – the fastest four goals by two teams in Wild history.
Still, despite a solid effort and needed win, the always honest Boudreau wasn’t celebrating. After such a poor month, he wants to see the team follow it up against the Flyers, saying, “You know what? Anybody can do anything once. So let’s see how we do Thursday.”
I’m going to toss a bunch of quotes up here now, and then hit the road.
Hanzal’s goal was originally credited to Jason Pominville and came 33 seconds after David Schlemko tied it.
Hanzal said, “To be honest, I didn’t even know it went off my stick, so it was just one of these goals.”
He played on a solid forechecking line tonight with Pominville and Nino Niederreiter, so I’d think Boudreau sticks with that for a bit.
On the line, Hanzal said, “I thought we played well. Whenever we got the puck deep and start working in their zone, we were playing really well. We just have to keep going.”
On the five-shot third period the Wild allowed, Hanzal said, “We were playing smart, disciplined, and it paid off. It was a huge victory for us right now. The way we were playing the last few games, sometimes it was even unlucky games we lost, but this was a really a huge win for us. It’s going to build the confidence of the team.”
Dubnyk, on his 37th win after five games with no wins and seven starts with no wins, said, “It’s been waiting for awhile. It felt like a long month. That was important. We’ve played some good hockey and not been rewarded. I’ve got to make things interesting at the end of the second period, of course, but it doesn’t matter after you hang on. I think this is what we needed against a really good hockey team on the other end. We can stop talking about the other stuff now. This is what we’re about.”
Coyle had another strong game with his second goal in two games, and Boudreau said, “It's been good ever since he's been on the left wing. A thing that happens with Charlie is that when he has puck he cuts to the middle on his forehand now instead of on his backhand and I think that's helping him out and I think that's helping Zach out a little bit too. I thought they both played really well tonight.”
Zach Parise, who had two assists and was solid as a rock with Coyle and Eric Staal, said, “We had a great start to the game and I think it was just good for us to get feeling good. I think we picked up where we left off against Winnipeg, did a good job forechecking and getting the puck back. And then, like we’re going to have to continue to do when you get the lead, you gotta lock it down and we did a good job of that in the third.”
Parise, on how much the team needed this win, said, “It was really important. I think the last three games, we played pretty well and didn’t get the results we wanted. I thought, outside of that first period in Winnipeg, we’ve been playing pretty good hockey, just not ending up in the win column, so it was nice to end up on that side tonight. I think we were going in the right direction, just [had] nothing to show for it.”
Coyle on winning, said, “It feels good. We are back in the win column. That's what we want. We played a pretty good game against these guys a week or two ago and that was probably our last really good game. We were kind of thinking back to that. We had that confidence against this team. We just came out the right way. It was nice to get that first one and feel good and get some momentum right away. Yeah. It was a good win for us.”
On his game turning, Coyle said, “It's nice to contribute. I just have to keep playing my game. That's it. If they go in, they go in. I just have to keep playing the way I know how -- play physical, move my feet, be a big body out there.”
That’s it for me. Please tune into KFAN in the morning, and next Russo-Souhan Show is live at Hell’s Kitchen in Minneapolis at 6 p.m. Wednesday, as well.