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Postgame: Thoughts after another shootout win for the Wild

  • Blog Post by: Michael Russo
  • December 18, 2013 - 8:48 AM

Another game, another come-from-behind shootout win for the Wild as it rallied in the third to snap the Vancouver Canucks’ seven-game winning streak by a 3-2 score.

Jason Pominville scored the lone shootout goal, Josh Harding wasn’t beaten by any of Vancouver’s three shooters (John Tortorella, my favorite, almost-endearing coaching curmudgeon, went on a classic shootout rant after the game about how the Canucks stink in shootouts) and Charlie Coyle scored the tying goal 8:47 into the third to force a frantic overtime.

Honestly, the Wild is 5-4 in shootouts and 0-1 in overtime this season. The previous nine overtimes, I could have popped the tape in my VCR (if I still had one; do they still make VCR’s?) and used the footage in lieu of melatonin.

The previous overtimes this season for the most part have been sleep-inducing. This one, “we had awesome looks,” said Pominville. But the Wild couldn’t seal the deal there, partly because of Roberto Luongo, partly because of missed nets.

Harding was again outstanding when the Wild needed him most. He made 29 saves. Luongo made 30 and was good, although he was angry with himself on the Coyle five-hole equalizer.

Wild looked flat at times in the first two periods, particularly the top line of Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Coyle, who had a lot of offensive-zone time, but when it came time to make a play, it just couldn’t execute.

Parise and Koivu said the team as a whole was flat the first two periods. Vancouver struck first for the eighth consecutive game, but Parise tied the score with his 15th goal (tied Pominville for team lead) and eighth power-play goal, which is tied for second in the NHL. Koivu set him up with a beauty after finding the loose puck of Ryan Suter’s blocked shot.

Suter picked up an assist for a fourth straight game after going pointless for eight in a row.

But Suter, who has had some tough games lately, was gassed after a long shift in the offensive zone that didn’t end up with a goal from the second line. Back in the D-zone, Suter didn’t tie up David Booth or the puck on a rebound, and Booth scored the go-ahead goal.

As I mentioned after the Colorado game, Suter is banged up. He’s wrapped like a mummy after every game. I just think he’s playing too much. He logged 32:34 tonight, topping 30 minutes for the third straight game, 12th time in 21 games and 17th time this year.

Marco Scandella, a team-best plus-10, has been fantastic. So has Jared Spurgeon. Yeo said he’s even pleased with the whole D-corps. So I really think, as Yeo likes to say, Scandella should “bite off” more ice time and Suter should be eased back a bit.

It’s a long season. This guy has 46 games left PLUS a trip to Russia to play in the Olympics. Suter is too valuable an asset for this team to flame out this early.

Here’s Yeo on Suter’s ice time, and he doesn’t does make a good point about how Suter was tremendous in the third period: “For sure, we’ve got to keep an eye on that. I would say yes, but look at his third period, look at his overtime. He accelerates past people, he gets the puck and goes up the ice. He played an awful lot tonight, but that said, when the game’s on the line, he looked great. We have to keep an eye on it.”

He said they’d maybe back him off a little in the first or second, but “when the game’s on the line, and he’s looking like that, it’s hard not to put him out.”

Parise was honest on a lot of subjects after the game:

-- “We’re so comfortable playing here. For whatever reason, we play for the most part pretty solid here. We need to get our swagger back that we had. Right now we’re a little hesitant. We’ve got to get a little more aggressive.”

-- On often giving up the first goal: “We can’t rely on chasing. Mentally, it’s hard always to be doing that, but when you get later in the year, teams are good of putting the clamp down when they have a one-goal lead. We can’t make a habit out of it.”

Wild is 12-2-5 in one-goal games. Nine of its past 11 wins are by the one-goal variety.

Canucks were good in the first two periods limiting the Wild’s time and space. The Wild could barely penetrate the middle of the offensive zone. Then Coyle scored and the Wild pressured the rest of the way, outshooting Vancouver 16-8 in the final 25 minutes.

Once the Wild started shooting pucks, it broke the Canucks down. But the Wild has scored five goals in the past 250 minutes, 6 seconds of hockey (four-plus games) and 20 goals in the past 13 games (1.53 per game).

I liked Brett Bulmer’s game again in the first two periods. He knows the system and is confident. Yeo didn’t play him late, putting Dany Heatley on the line with Matt Cooke and Kyle Brodziak in the second half of the third. Probably a rookie trust issue late in a game, so a lot of coaches would limit him there.

Did I mention Scandella has been awesome?

What else?

Was Pominville’s 21st career shootout goal.

Wild’s now 14-3-2 at home but hit the road for four now (three in a row before NHL’s Dec. 24-26 holiday hiatus), where it’s 6-8-3. Wild starts in Pittsburgh, where it’s won six in a row I believe. It’ll be former Pens assistant and Cup winner Mike Yeo’s first regular-season game coached there and former Pen Matt Cooke’s first game back.

Wild has won five of its last six shootouts.

Mikko Koivu had two assists and now leads the team with 20. It was his 98th career multi-point game.

Josh Harding is now 18-5-3 (tied for second in the NHL in wins) and leads the league with a 1.51 goals-against average. He is 14-1 at home with a 1.31 goals-against average and .944 save percentage.

That’s it for moi. Wild has mostly a day off Wednesday before it flies to Pittsburgh. Kent Youngblood will be at the rink and will blog if there’s anything up. I’ll next come to you Thursday from Pittsburgh.

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