First-rate effort from Wild's first line in shootout victory at Chicago

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 2, 2012 - 8:48 AM

Devin Setoguchi, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley were the difference as the Wild edged the Blackhawks.

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CHICAGO - Josh Harding had a horrendous view of the Wild's first line Sunday night.

That's because Devin Setoguchi, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley barely spent any time in the defensive zone during a 5-4 shootout victory over the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.

"I thought they dominated tonight," Harding said. "They hemmed it down in their zone, got chances and just pestered them all night."

In addition to the shootout winner, Setoguchi scored a goal and had two assists for his eighth career three-point night. Heatley had a goal and an assist, and Koivu set up two goals, including Clayton Stoner's first in more than a year, and won 18 faceoffs.

Honestly, the trio was so good, it made one wonder what could have been if Setoguchi had not missed 12 games earlier this season because of a knee injury and Koivu had not missed 23 games in the second half because of a shoulder injury.

The Wild has won three in a row for the first time since winning seven in a row from Nov. 28 to Dec. 10.

"Every time you look back on a season, you think, 'What could have?'" Setoguchi said. "Obviously, it's disappointing. It's just the way hockey is. You can't control it, but it would have been nice if we spent a full year healthy."

Heatley said though the Wild can't look back and "just have to realize we know how to play together and we have to do it the next three games and into next year. We've had some good stretches and good runs together, and we'd like to keep it going for a full year."

With both teams playing the second half of back-to-back games and coach Mike Yeo taxing the Koivu line, as well as the Darroll Powe-Kyle Brodziak-Cal Clutterbuck line, to get away from matchups, it was a grueling game. Defenseman Tom Gilbert played nearly 32 minutes

After Brodziak gave the Wild a 4-2 second-period lead, Patrick Kane scored twice to force overtime, the last coming on a late third-period power play after Dave Bolland tripped mighty easily on a Koivu reach.

But the Wild prevailed in an intense game that started with an incredible war of words in the first period between Heatley and minor league fighter Brandon Bollig.

"He was chirping about [me] slashing Kane or something," Heatley said. "The guy's trying to earn a spot on the team. I think it did fire us up and get us going. I think after that there were two or three fights and a lot of scrums in front of the net. Guys hung in and battled for each other."

Stoner fought Bollig, and soon after, Heatley set up Setoguchi's game-opening goal. Patrick Sharp answered 34 seconds later, but then Heatley buried a tic-tac-toe on a power play between Setoguchi and Koivu.

Setoguchi, who has 19 goals, was tremendous, and Yeo raved about his game, saying, "That might be his best game he's played in a Minnesota Wild jersey. ... He's really elevated his game.

"It's been a trying season for him, but it's encouraging seeing the way he's going right now. Not only the way he's creating chances and using his speed, but there seems to be a real purpose in his battle level."

Yeo added, "I don't think we win that game without Mikko in the lineup."

And one wonders how many more the Wild would have won if his second half hadn't been destroyed by injury.

Etc.

• Defenseman Steve Kampfer injured a knee in Saturday's victory over Los Angeles and is week-to-week, Yeo said. That puts his ability to play for Houston during the AHL playoffs in question. Kampfer had three points and was minus-7 in 13 games.

• Center Cody Almond was recalled and played against the Blackhawks after Warren Peters sustained a pinched nerve Saturday. After being examined Sunday, Peters will meet the Wild in Nashville, Yeo said. Almond played a strong game and got into a fight.

• Defenseman Marco Scandella (upper body) returned to the lineup.

  • related content

  • Game recap: Wild 5, Chicago 4 (SO)

    Monday April 2, 2012

    1. Devin Setoguchi, Wild: Eighth career three-point game, plus the shootout winner.

  • Postgame: Wild's top line shines in Chicago

    Sunday April 1, 2012

    Devin Setoguchi, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley combines for seven points and Setoguchi gets the shootout winner vs. the Blackhawks

  • Minnesota's Devin Setoguchi (10) celebrates with Mikko Koivu (9) and Dany Heatley (15) after scoring during the first period against Chicago.

  • WILD 5, CHICAGO 4 (SO) • Up next: 7 p.m. Tuesday at Nashville • FSN (100.3-FM)

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