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's pots five goals in front-end victory of home-and-home with Colorado

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: March 14, 2013 - 11:49 PM
Highly entertaining game here at the X tonight as Mikko Koivu scored twice, including an empty-netter, and Jonas Brodin scored his first NHL goal in the Wild’s 5-3 victory over Colorado.
 
Devin Setoguchi and Torrey Mitchell also scored goals, Ryan Suter registered his third career 3-assist game and 4th career 3-point game, and Matt Cullen and Zach Parise assisted on two goals each as the Wild bounced back from a Tuesday loss to Anaheim that it feels it deserved better.
 
The home-and-home with the Avs ends in Denver on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT. – the first of a three-game road trip that also goes to Vancouver and Detroit.
 
I wrote so much about the electrifying Koivu from Parise and Suter winning goal in my game story, please check that out on www.startribune.com/wild.
 
That goal put a stamp on a three-goal, 19-shot second period. The three goals tied a season high for goals in a period, the 19 shots were a season-high for a period. The Wild finished with 40 and a season-high five goals (five even-strength goals, too).
 
Great work ethic again tonight by the Wild against a Colorado team that is stacked up front but pretty questionable on the back end. But this was a different looking team than the Wild faced the first two times this year with Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly in the lineup.
 
Coach Mike Yeo was happy with all the lines and the veteran leadership. Cullen was absolutely buzzing and made former Wild D and his beard Greg Zanon look bad a few times. Cullen has 16 points in the past 20 games and set up Setoguchi’s seventh goal in 16 games.
 
With Jason Zucker hurt, Pierre-Marc Bouchard was the other man on the line and he had an assist. He made a concerted effort to be more physical and go to the dirty areas.
 
Yeo said this morning that he wanted Bouchard to “make a point” and be a factor.
 
“There was definitely some good stuff going on out there,” Yeo said. “I know Zuck is feeling better. Doesn’t make our decision any easier.”
 
I’ve got to think Yeo either lets Zucker rest up for one more game Saturday or takes Bouchard out again. The first line is great. The third line, Yeo was very happy with tonight. And the fourth line has just been so consistent. Mitchell scored tonight. Mike Rupp’s simple dump and forecheck forced Ryan Wilson into the turnover that led to the goal. Cullen set it up because he got double-shifted when 19 seconds before the goal, Zenon Konopka beat up Cody McLeod.
 
So if Yeo looks at the lineup the way I am, the lone choice could be pulling Bouchard out if he wants to play Zucker.
 
I do think Brett Clark makes his Wild debut. I think Justin Falk’s penalty right in front of the bench that led to P.A. Parenteau’s power-play goal in the waning seconds of the first will stick in the coaches’ memory banks.
 
Suter – again awesome. I’ll write about him in the next few days. He’s been just great since the Feb. 9 overtime winner he helped set up against his former Predators. He has 20 assists now, second in the NHL, in 26 games. Jared Spurgeon led the Wild with 20 last year in 70 games!!!
 
Brodin’s goal came off a nice wrister and set up from Suter. The 19-year-old continues to baffle defensively and his game will evolve offensively. Future star, undoubtedly. He scored with his parents in the crowd from Sweden. And who says Swedes and surly Finns don’t get along? Koivu was the man who went hunting down the linesman to get the milestone puck.
 
Koivu and Parise were real good again. Just worked their butts off.
 
Yeo on Koivu (six goals now): “He’s been playing so well, but the puck hasn’t been going in for him. Really happy that he got rewarded. Really impressed that he’s been able to stay with it. He’s been leading us unbelievably in this last little stretch,” but Yeo said the fact that Koivu hasn’t gotten off his game despite not getting goals is “leadership.”
 
Niklas Backstrom made 29 saves and continues to get beaten on the flukiest goals imaginable. He and Yeo can only laugh and Yeo joked that he only hopes that “puck luck” followed the Wild into the second half. Tonight was another example where the Wild could have popped in four or five more goals easily. Backstrom is now 9-3-1 in his past 13 games and is 22-5-3 all-time vs. Colorado.
 
Other tidbits:
 
--Wild is 10-3-1 at home, 6-1-1 in the past eight here. Outshot opponents in 11 of its 14 home games.
 
--Koivu's two-goal game was his first since Nov. 19, 2011. Team-high 7th multi-point game this year. He was plus-3. Parise was also plus-3 and had his 5th multi-point game. Koivu has 22 points, Parise 21.
 
Anyway, good game all around. On to Denver now for the Wild and myself. Kent Youngblood is covering practice on Friday and Chip Scoggins will also be columnizing for Saturday’s paper on the Wild.
 
I will talk to you before Saturday’s game from Denver.
 
 

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