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 wins seventh in a row

Posted by: Chris Miller under Wild news Updated: March 28, 2013 - 12:28 AM

Ryan Suter scored the tying goal with 54 seconds left in regulation, and Mikko Koivu got the game-winner at 2:43 of overtime as the Wild beat Phoenix at the X on Wednesday night for its seventh consecutive victory.

Game story is here.

It's the first seven-game win streak for the Wild since late in 2011. It tied Vancouver for first in the Northwest.

Niklas Backstrom had 24 saves. Matt Cullen and Torrey Mitchell also scored for the Wild, which is next at Dallas on Friday night.

Chris Miller here, subbing for Russo, who will join the team in the Big D on Friday. I think Russo was more excited about the Flames [probable] trade of Jarome Iginla to Boston [or Pittsburgh, not sure at this hour] than he was in tweeting comments about tonight's Wild tilt.

Coyotes had the better of play, I thought, through regulation. 

Phoenix coach Dave Tippett called it like it was, however: "We hung around, but we didn't do enough to win. We took a terrible penalty (Antoine Vermette cross-checked Jared Spurgeon) in overtime. There was not the desperation to block a shot late in the game, and not enough desperation to find a way to block a passing lane."

No one on the Wild side seemed to think it played well.  Coach Mike Yeo was pretty glum. But at least three players said "Good teams find a way to win," so at least my cliche-meter was going ding-ding-ding in the locker room.

Wasn't there long, however. Late start and early deadlines kept my cliche-gathering to a minimum.

Koivu made big plays late. He assisted on the tying goal, and had a great chance in overtime before he scored the winner.

Jared Spurgeon had a good stick tonight, and had two assists.

Probably not Suter's best game, but it was his first home goal as a Wild player. He deadpanned "Well, I have scored goals in this building before."

The Bouchard-Cullen-Setoguchi line had its moments, but Cullen and Setoguchi were on the ice for all three Coyotes goals, and that ain't good.  The defensive pair of Tom Gilbert and Justin Falk also struggled mightily. And that's being kind.

The fourth line was good.  Mitchell scored off a Mike Rupp rebound, and Zenon Konopka was active and won a fight right after Cullen's goal. They swarmed the Phoenix zone and came close to getting another goal. Yeo talked to the three after the morning skate, and said afterward he was happy with the way they "changed momentum" in games.

Phoenix goalie Jason LaBarbera had the best "can't use in a newspaper quote" of the night, equating the final two goals to, ahem, a kick below the belt.

Big question now is if Backstrom will be left at home when the Wild goes to Dallas, and not play again until Saturday night against Los Angeles at the X.  That would mean either Darcy Kuemper or Matt Hackett will start against the Stars. To recall Hackett from Houston, the Wild would likely send Jake Dowell back to the AHL. 

All speculation on my part, of course. I'm getting to be more like Russo every day. And I've only been on the beat one day.

Youngblood will bring some hockey knowledge to the beat at tomorrow's practice, which is optional for the players.

Good to do some honest work for a change. Now back to planning the NFL draft section ... and ... the Wild playoff preview section?

 

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