Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Wild going home happy

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under On the road, Wild game coverage Updated: November 15, 2011 - 11:11 PM
Greetings.
 
Interesting game, right? After the first period I thought there was no way the Wild would find a way. The team looked tired, flat, ready to go home.
 
But, somehow, the players did find a way.
 
We were waiting outside the dressing room after the game, waiting to talk to players and to coach Mike Yeo. And then we heard a very loud and happy cheer emanate from behind those closed doors.
 
The players deserved to feel good. The Wild took two out of three on the road, are coming home in first place to play six straight at Xcel Energy Center. Yeo has been pretty blunt about his team this season, with his post-game comments after the Wild's loss in L.A. a prime example.
 
Tonight, even though his team didn't play great for 60 minutes, even though it fell behind early 2-0 after a horrible start. Even though it was outshot nearly two-to-one, Yeo seemed as proud of his team as he has been all season.
 
"We expected it wasn't going to be perfect tonight," he said. "It had been a long trip for us. The travel we've had along the way, changing time zones like we have, not skating (Monday), a lot of things indicated we might start like we did...
"But, for me, I'm impressed with the character of the guys."
 
Yeo used the word character a few times tonight. He might be right. Successful teams find a way to win on the road when the players aren't at their best. Tuesday that's just what the Wild did. With  Marek Zidlicky hurt, with the defenseman playing mega minutes, with the forwards tired after playing extra shifts while Cal Clutterbuck and Pierre-Marc Bouchard sat out 10-minute misconduct in the first period.
 
"The successful teams find a way," Yeo said. "You don't allow excuses or self-pity, or just accept anything less than your best."
 
Here are some impressions from tonight's game:
 
--Backstrom played very, very well. And he got some help, including Jared Spurgeon's' diving deflection of Rick Nash's goal mouth attempt midway through the third period.
--The young defenseman continue to step up. Spurgeon and Justin Falk each played  more than 23 minutes and were very good in the third period.
--Matt Cullen got his team-leading  eighth goal, sparking the team's comeback. He has been wonderful this season.
--The line of Kyle Brodziak, Nick Johnson and Darroll Powe was very good tonight, turning in one good shift after another. The same can't be said of the Wild's top line produced five shots on goal, four by Setoguchi, none by Dany Heatley.
The big question now is the extent of Marek Zidlicky's injury. Yeo said he got his bell rung. That could mean concussion. I don't think Mike Lundin is ready to come back and neither is Greg  Zanon. That means the Wild might have to call down to Houston. We'll know more about that tomorrow.
 
That's about all for now. I'll be at practice tomorrow, and Russo will join the team in time for Thursday's morning skate. Have a good night.
 
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