Bruce Boudreau wanted a 2-1 victory. That’s what he got in his return to Anaheim on Sunday night when the Wild rallied from a 1-0 first-period deficit with two second-period goals 1:42 apart by defensemen Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon. The Dumba goal came on a 5-on-3, the ninth time in 11 games the Wild’s power play has scored.
The Wild’s now 10-5-1 when its opponent scores first. That’s the sixth-most wins in the NHL but the second-best win percentage (.625).
Last season, the Wild was 5-25-6 in such a scenario with a league-worst .139 win percentage.
The Wild pushed its road point streak to 10 games (8-0-2), second-longest in franchise history. The Wild hasn’t lost on the road in regulation since Nov. 29 when it coughed up a 2-0 lead in Vancouver.
The Wild has points in 20 of 22 games (16-2-4) since Nov. 21, is 9-1-4 in its past 14 on the road and has a conference-best .705 points percentage.
By the way, please give my game notebook a read. Some good color in there on Boudreau getting to coach the All-Star Game and how all NHL teams will have to go with just home and road sweaters next season. No third jerseys.
The Wild kept pace with the Blackhawks, who beat Nashville tonight. The Wild has 55 points in 39 games. It’s two points behind Chicago for the Central Division lead with four – soon to be five – games in hand. The Wild next plays at home Thursday against Montreal before hitting the road for back-to-back games in Dallas and Chicago.
Devan Dubnyk, who had given up four goals in his past three starts, made 23 stops and was solid late. He also got help from some big blocked shots by Zach Parise, Charlie Coyle and Mikko Koivu in the final minute.
“It was nice not to give up four,” Dubnyk said.
The Wild had actually given up four in five of the previous six games.
Boudreau said the Wild had to get back to playing tight defensively, but he noted the Wild easily could have scored four or five goals, proof if you defend well, you get chances without cheating for offense.
The Wild had two goals disallowed, one because Nino Niederreiter kicked it, the other because of arguably a quick whistle on a Coyle wraparound.
But the Wild outattempted Anaheim 68-52. Eric Staal had eight shots on goal and 10 attempted. Jason Pominville, who was solid for a second game in a row this time reunited with Niederreiter and Erik Haula, had 10 shot attempts and an assist. Niederreiter had seven shot attempts. Ryan Suter rebounded from a tough game in L.A. He nearly logged 30 minutes, had eight shot attempts and was plus-1.
As for Boudreau’s return, he got all his prep work done at the hotel with his staff because there was no morning skate. He said it’s a good thing he did because every two minutes before the game, somebody else walked into his office to say hi.
In a pretty petty decision, the Ducks did nothing to acknowledge the coach that won four straight division titles here. All they had to do was a “Welcome Back” for the fans and for Boudreau, but nope.
Yet, the Ducks do that for players and all the reporters up here say they did it for Randy Carlyle after he came back after being fired the first time (yes, he won a Cup). Still, would have been a classy thing to do, you know, the way the Wild did that for Mike Yeo last month.
Players say Boudreau didn’t say much about wanting to win this thing badly.
“He's candid and he's emotional. He's a human being,” Dubnyk said. “You can tell this game meant a lot to him, and it meant a lot to us as well. So it was nice to get this one for him.”
Dubnyk said, “He was business as usual, and we knew it was important for him.”
Added Pominville, “It’s nice to get the win for him. He didn’t really say much about it. I think everyone knew.”
Added Suter, “He didn’t have to say it. Whenever you go back to your old city, you want to make sure everyone shows up and come out with the win. It was fun to come out and get playing the right way.”
I held a lot back for a follow because Monday’s a day off. I’m also not covering practice Tuesday, so I’ll be back with you on Wednesday (or on Twitter or KFAN). If you missed the past couple days worth of articles, please go to startribune.com/wild. Couple good ones today with Ray Ferraro lauding the Wild's prospects and also the advance on Boudreau's return to Anaheim.
Please come on down to the Russo-Souhan Show at Hell’s Kitchen at 6 p.m. Wednesday. It’ll be an awesome show.
Solid 2-0-1 California trip to the Wild and response to its winning streak-cracking loss to Columbus.
Now, back to the cold.