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 back on winning track

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wild game coverage Updated: December 29, 2011 - 11:46 PM

Greetings for one last time this evening.

Youngblood here, filling in for Russo both tonight and tomorrow. And I have to say, I'm a bit drained after trying -- somewhat successfully, I hope -- to capture what was a very emotional game tonight at Xcel Energy Center.

An eight-game winless streak is over. And what a way for it to go. This was the sixth and final time these two teams were set to face each other this season, and neither left anything on the table.

As I write this, a few snapshots come to mind: Brad Staubitz depositing Theo Peckham in the Oilers bench. Kassian beating up on Darcy Hordichuk not once, but twice. Goaltender Niklas Backstrom defending his crease not once, but twice. Nate Prosser defending his goalie as the final horn sounded.

This game had a little bit of everything. But the bottom line is the Wild has now put together two very good games back-to-back. And while Thursday was the official streak-breaker, the team showed signs of coming out of its funk Wednesday in Nashville.

Of course, after the game, coach Mike Yeo was already out in front of this. He was already talking about the team not losing its edge just because the winless streak was over.

"We really try to focus on the way we're playing," he said. "And making sure we're doing the right things with the right attitude. This is two good games we have played in a row. Now let's string together another one. Let's have a good practice (Friday) and get ready for our next game."

Some notes:

--Dany Heatley scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season and his second in two games. It's the third time he's scored in back-to-back games this season. Heatley has a four-game point streak.

--Mikko Koivu played nearly 23 minutes tonight. He scored the Wild's first goal after a slow start. And he was on the ice helping kill a penalty as the game expired. This guy is something. Koivu has a nine-game point streak and he leads the Wild with 32 total points.

--Matt Kassian played just 2:12 and skated just six shifts. But did he ever have an impact.

--The two teams combined for 57 penalty minutes this evening.

 

That's about all for now. I'll get back to you after practice tomorrow.

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