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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Depleted Wild win again, Mike Yeo on Mikko Koivu: "We're getting this kill, ... "

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: December 9, 2011 - 9:43 AM

UPDATED: According to Elias as it continues to research the Hackett note, it appears he's at least the first goalie to start his NHL career with 100+shutout minutes since the 1979 WHA-NHL merger. Also updated with Terry Murray quote on bottom.

The Wild's starting to get national attention from all corners, and now this on Twitter from @colin_hanks:

The Minnesota Wild (replacement Northstars) are good. Really good. #hockeytweets

There's never any excuses with this team.

Devin Setoguchi and Cal Clutterbuck and Josh Harding are the latest hurt. Kyle Brodziak, in a dubious call by the officials, is ejected from tonight's game with 35 minutes to go. Niklas Backstrom is on the bench giving his strained groin a few more days to heal.

Guillaume Latendresse and Marek Zidlicky and Justin Falk are back in Minnesota.

And the Wild win yet again in completely convincing fashion, 4-2, over the L.A. Kings behind Matt Hackett's 42 saves for his first win in a start after his first in in his debut.

It was the Wild's team-record sixth consecutive road win, sixth win in a row overall and 16th in 20 games for the league-leading Wild, which has a three-point conference lead, six-point division lead and is 11 points from ninth.

Cue my pal, LA Kings coach Terry Murray: "Minnesota is the No. 1 team in the league right now. They're a good team with good balance. But they work hard, they're intense, and their attitude is right."

Hackett is 2-0 with a 1.01 goals against average and .974 save percentage. His shutout streak to begin his NHL career was 102 minutes, 36 seconds before Dustin Penner scored 3:59 into the third tonight. I don't even know if I should really put this because it's so unofficial and that's why I didn't even dare put it in the paper (but who reads the Internet, so here goes), but according to hockeygoalies.org (not sure how reputable), the longest streak without allowing a goal to start an NHL career was Detroit’s Dave Gatherum (100:21) from Oct. 11-16, 1953. 

Not sure to believe yet that Hackett really made NHL history, but I do believe there’s a good bet Hackett’s NHL career lasts longer. Gatherum played three games.

Like I said, the above is beyond UNofficial. The Elias Sports Bureau, the end-all, be-all for most stats in all sports, couldn't even figure it out, so I'm skeptical how accurate the above is.

I'm not skeptical how accurate this statement is, however: Matt Hackett is a darn good goalie.

Quick glove, great slide to slide, fast, acrobatic, poised, in control. Cool calm, collected. Pretty interesting, but the coaches knew yesterday that he was going to start, but they didn't tell him this morning -- probably so he could sleep. When they told him, he was "all smiles," said Mike Yeo.

Tonight, for a change, the Wild scored first and quickly when Mikko Koivu pounced on a loose puck and scored on a wraparound 24 seconds in for the fastest road goal in Wild history.

But Koivu played an even bigger role at 4:48 into the second when Brodziak was called for a, let's just say, questionable boarding call on Anze Kopitar. Shoulder to shoulder, puck there. Not a penalty, let alone a major and a game misconduct.

Sooooo, Brodziak, one of the Wild's most important forwards, is booted for more than half the game AND L.A. got a five-minute major (actually 3:38 after a 1:22 4-on-4 ended) out of it. AND, Kopitar conveniently heals for the major.

Brodziak hopes the league understands it was a puck battle in the corner (I'd be shocked if it doesn't) and let's him off with time served. 

"If you're lying on the ice for five minutes like that and play the next shift, you're obviously not that hurt," Brodziak said, sarcastically.

Everyone on the Wild bench knew it was a bad call, and Koivu, the Wild's captain, stood up according to Yeo and screamed, "'We're getting this kill,' and you know what? I believed him."

The Wild then didn't give up a shot on the major and rolled from there with lots of guys stepping up, like Darroll Powe for a goal and assist and career-best plus-3, Nick Johnson, who had his first career 2-assist game, and Cody Almond, who scored his second career NHL goal. Jeff Taffe had an assist and was plus-2. Marco Scandella's goal would become the winner, the first of his career, and it's the third goal for the rook.

The Wild swept a California road trip for the first time in its history, and is 11-2 since last month's 5-2 loss in this building. Just an incredible turnaround.

Here's Mike Yeo from Thursday morning: "It is a different place and time for us. I think we’ve come a long way in terms of how we prepare ourselves, how we see ourselves and what we expect from ourselves.
“The players right from that day have been unbelievable.”

As former Badger Dany Heatley, who did have an apple taken by that stinkin' Taffe (kidding, read the game notebook on startribune.com/wild for some funny quotes) on the Koivu goal, said after this one, that L.A. loss last month was a "big wake-up call."

Heatley had a lot of good stuff to say after this one about what's going on with this team right now, so I'll try to get that into my follow for Saturday's paper. Heatley, by the way, did get an assist back on the Scandella goal when he took a hit to make a play (body slammed by Dustin Brown, who played a part in all the good and bad for the Kings. Guy hits like a brick wall though. Twelve ones tonight.

Murray on Brodziak: "That's a very dangerous play. ... I've seen too many players blow their knees [on a play like that]. ... I was very concerned about that one. ... I watch games around the league and it's a concern that it happens as often as it does. I don't get it. I don't get the attitude, the mentality of players today. The lack of respect and the jeopardy they're putting their fellow [players] in with that kind of attitude. It makes no sense to me. That never happened before. In my generation, that never happened."

Don't agree with Murray. Think that's just the reaction of a very frustrated coach with a team not playing up to its capability.

OK, that's it for me. Early flight. Talk to you from beautiful Glendale, Arizona after Friday afternoon's practice.

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