The Wild won its fourth in a row tonight here in Philly after a tremendous response to Claude Giroux’s tying power-play goal with 3:30 left.
Jason Zucker, who had no goals in the previous 10 games and no points in the previous eight, buried Ryan Suter’s goalmouth pass for the winner with 45.4 seconds left en route to a 3-2 Wild win, the team’s fourth in a row as it starts a three-game road trip that continues to Tampa Bay and Florida.
Evening, and I am going to be very quick. You can please read the gamer and notebook for the details, but I have a wakeup call in less than three hours.
Darcy Kuemper, who was so good tonight, was rewarded with his ninth win after making a season-high 37 saves behind a team that was throwing pucks away left and right in the first 40 minutes and was outshot 14-6 through one period and 27-13 through two.
On the winner, Thomas Vanek slipped a pass through Wayne Simmonds legs to Suter. He inched in and took a shot that deflected wide, but Charlie Coyle won the race to the puck to get it back to Suter, who then made a great pass to Zucker for the big goal.
Mikko Koivu didn’t play the last 18:50 because he’s sick, coach Mike Yeo said. Yeo doesn’t think it’s mumps symptoms and I saw Koivu after, and although he was unavailable to interview, he definitely didn’t have the classic swollen glands the others had. So the Wild hopes it stays that way.
Koivu was definitely noticeably off his game tonight. Just little energy and the final straw was his blue-line turnover at the end of the early third-period power play tonight. He didn’t play again. But at 1:42, Marco Scandella put the Wild up 2-1 one game after scoring the OT winner vs. Winnipeg.
The Wild missed Koivu in the circle late, especially on that late Philly power play that Giroux scored on.
Nino Niederreiter, who also scored a goal (power-play goal to snap the Wild’s 0 for 32 road PP string), did so many good plays on the shift it was ridiculous. The sequence started with him getting the puck into the zone, then he outworked two Flyers on the forecheck to gather Jared Spurgeon’s rebound.
Finally, after Mikael Granlund outworked Scott Laughton in traffic to keep a puck in, Niederreiter found it and whistled it across for Scandella. He had all the time in the world to skate to the top of the circle and unload.
Scandella made amends for a couple mistakes he made before Philly’s tying goal in the second period to make it 1-1. Not normally on the power play, he seemed unaware that Giroux was coming out of the box. Giroux took it right from him. Then in the D zone, Scandella put Matt Dumba in a bad position with a bad pass, and Dumba turned it over before Mark Streit’s goal.
Check out the game for the strange sequence involving Spurgeon that led to Giroux’s tying goal with 3:30 left.
Yeo looked smart after this one. With many folks critiquing his changing of the lines after a three-game winning streak, that newly created Vanek-Coyle-Zucker line created the winner. Coyle, at center, was real good tonight. Yeo loved Coyle’s game at both ends of the ice. He was plus-2, had six hits, had two shots, drew a penalty and assisted on Zucker’s winner.
Zucker also was good again and his hustle led to a beat-out icing and drawn penalty late in the second. Vanek had glaring turnovers (so did every teammate), but he made play and had the “third assist” on the winner.
The Wild was beyond sloppy the first two periods, but Kuemper kept the Wild in it. Finally Yeo went in between the second and third and told his team to forget the first two periods and go out and win a 1-1 game on the road there for the taking. Make a play or two, he told them, after not moving their feet or trying to make plays in the second, just “throwing it right back to them.”
“We were defending hard, we were blocking shots, guys were willing to pay the price, but I really felt like we were just playing not to lose that hockey game,’ Yeo said. “I liked the way our guys came out in the third period. We really got after it.”
The Wild had 16 shots in that period.
Humorously this morning, Yeo said the Wild needs to start scoring three goals a game on the road.
“And it took all of them and it took almost the whole game to get it,” Yeo said afterward.
Kuemper was awesome and he said he knew he had to be good tonight because the Flyers were going to be hungry.
Yeo said, “He was good and I’m going to make sure he’s ready to be good for the next one, too.”
That's it for me. Josh Harding is backing up for Iowa in Rockford on Friday, by the way.
Talk to you after practice in Tampa on Friday.