Postgame: NHL-leading Wild's 'stick-to-it-ness' continues
- Blog Post by: Michael Russo
- December 4, 2011 - 11:41 PM
Evening from the Honda Center, where, thankfully, I wasn't strung from the rafters for today's critical Anaheim Ducks Sunday Insider. I know Paul Allen's happy about that because now I can grace him with my presence, I mean voice, live at 10:20 a.m. CT on Monday morning on KFAN from LAX on my way to No. Cal.
Board of Governors begin a 2-day meeting (golf outing) in Pebble Beach on Monday, where realignment will be a big topic. I wrote a column about six weeks ago, which you can look in the archives, but here's the story in Monday's paper.
Wild wins again, this time dominating the first two periods yet needing to once again rally for the 'W' -- its 14th in 18 games and fourth in a row on the road to once again overtake idle Pitt for tops in the LNH (as they say in Quebec).
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Wild became the first team since the Buffalo Sabres in March 2006 to win three consecutive road games when trailing by at least two goals. The Ducks, who have lost 18 of 21 and two in a row under new coach Bruce Boudreau, have blown two goal leads in three of their last five.
Tonight was the Wild's first win this season when allowing more than two goals (1-6-3). It was the Wild's league-leading 11th time it won when surrendering the first goal.
Read the gamer for details, but Dany Heatley sparked the rally, Casey Wellman had his first career 2-point night (1 goal for second straight game, 1 assist), Pierre-Marc Bouchard was brilliant with a goal and an assist, Cal Clutterbuck set up Nick Johnson's winner, then scored his league-leading fourth shorthanded goal into an empty net, Matt Cullen had his sixth career 3-assist night and first since Dec. 8, 2007, and Josh Harding made 24 saves.
How about this, but Cullen, Heatley, Clutterbuck, Kyle Brodziak and Devin Setoguchi all share the Wild's goal-scoring lead with eight.
Like I said, please read the gamer on www.startribune.com/wild or in the paper for the details of the comeback.
But couple odds and ends:
1. Lots of questions about Mr. Heatley's white turtleneck tonight. "First of all, it's a mock turtleneck Roose," said Heatley, "and second of all I like the comfort." He was trying one that was green, he didn't like it, and equipment dude Tricky Rick Bronwell found the right brand in white. Heatley used to wear turtlenecks with Ilya Kovalchuk when the two lit lamps for the Atlanta Thrashers.
2. The other morning before the Devils game, I asked coach Mike Yeo about the power play, and he talked about the lousy 5-on-3 the Wild had in Edmonton that very well could have killed them. It was stationary, not aggressive. After the game, assistant coach Darryl Sydor got together with guys like Heatley and Mikko Koivu to diagram a new alignment with a tweak in personnel.
Cullen replaced Jared Spurgeon, and he went down low with Setoguchi and Bouchard. Koivu and Heatley were at top.
Tonight, the Wild, down 2-zip, got a big 5-on-3 late in the first. Heatley scored with 3 seconds left when he flashed the slapper through a perfect Setoguchi screen. Beauty of a blazer.
“The key to a 5-on-3 is to have a threat up there, and Seto’s got to trust me there,” Heatley said in Heatleyesque way. “I just have to pick a side and not hit him.”
3. Nick Johnson. Career-high five-game point streak. Winning goal. Off his right skate when he was dragging Luca Sbisa. Remember, in late October, Johnson had a goal disallowed when a puck caromed in off his skate.
“I knew this one was good,” said Johnson. "The first one you could see where I kind of moved my skate. This one I really was stopping."
What else? Hmmmm. Wild keep winning, but I mentioned that. They keep sticking with it. The team motto is stick-to-it-ness.
"The amazing thing is when you can stick with it and things actually start to happen for you," Clutterbuck said. "That’s what encourages you and gives you the confidence to sit in those 2-0, 2-1 games and just be like, 'let's just keep with it and we’ll get it.'"
"We’re walking the talk," Cullen said. "We continue to preach, stay with it, stay confident, stay with the gameplan, and it will come, and it has come."
That's it for me. Tune in to the radio in the morning, and I'll be on KFAN. Otherwise, talk to you with any practice updates from San Jose. Niklas Backstrom is close, but if it were me, I'd start Josh Harding in San Jose (Wild needs to change it up in that arena) and start Backstrom in LA (Wild could change it up from the game last month where Harding lost there).
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