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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Brodin injured during Wild's 2-0 shutout over Nashville

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: October 22, 2013 - 11:16 PM

Tonight looked a lot like the game the Wild played in Nashville earlier this month, only there wasn’t that 5-on-3, followed by 5-on-4 to unravel things, coupled with a Niklas Backstrom knee injury and penalty-shot goal on the first puck Josh Harding saw.

But just like that game in Nashville, the Predators couldn’t get anything done at even-strength against the stingy Wild. This time, the Wild didn’t run out of gas in the third, and for a change, the Wild managed more than one goal.

Justin Fontaine, promoted to the top line with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu two shifts before, scored the eventual winning goal late in the second period and Jason Pominville scored an empty-netter as the Wild snapped a three-game losing streak to beat the Predators 2-0 tonight. Parise had two assists and Josh Harding made 16 saves for his eighth career shutout.

Before we continue, the potentially bad news of the night. Defenseman Jonas Brodin, whom I jinxed with this Scotty Bowman-centric story in Monday’s paper, was injured 2:54 into tonight’s game when he took a puck directly to the face off Gabriel Bourque’s dump-in.

Brodin was taken to local hospital for x-rays, and he has been released. Coach Mike Yeo didn’t have an update on Brodin’s condition, but hope for a root canal, not a jaw/chin injury. GM Chuck Fletcher just emailed me that an update will be provided Wednesday.

The Wild did an impressive job playing virtually the entire game tonight with five defensemen (four for five minutes in the third when Nate Prosser fought Eric Nystrom), and obviously Matt Dumba and injured Keith Ballard are waiting in the wings. But Brodin is immensely important to the Wild, and particularly, the puck possession type game Yeo wants the Wild playing. He was off to an outstanding start this season with three goals and three assists in 25 minutes, 42 seconds a game. So the Wild can’t afford to lose him for an extended period.

Good evening from the X. Rachel Blount is writing the game story, so I figured I’d blog. Good win for the Wild tonight. Minnesota controlled the game and the puck all night against a tired-looking Preds team.

Harding is 4-2-1 with a league-leading 0.96 goals against average and a .953 save percentage that ranks second (minimum 4 games). Harding has allowed one 5-on-5 goal in eight games and the Wild has allowed five all year, which ranks first. It has allowed 21.2 shots per game, which ranks first. In Harding’s six starts, he has had to face an average of 20.7 shots per game.

It’s all about puck possession. This isn’t the Wild of yesteryear where it trapped up the neutral zone and sat back all game. The Wild again had the puck all night tonight and outshot Nashville 29-16.

This team does so many things well, yet it has to work so hard to score goals. By those defensive numbers, this team should be a lot higher in the standings than its 4-3-3 record.

Tonight, the Wild badly outplayed the Preds, but Minnesota wasn’t getting a lot of second chances as the Preds’ defensemen collapsed down low and Pekka Rinne did a good job smothering pucks.

The one puck he couldn’t smother – a Clayton Stoner shot – and Fontaine pounced for his second career goal and eventual first career winning goal. Stoner had a strong game tonight as his responsibilities picked up with Brodin hurt. He had three hits and three blocks shots.

Jared Spurgeon took Brodin’s spot alongside Ryan Suter and was solid. He also may have saved the game by sweeping Matt Cullen’s shot from the goal line in the waning seconds and before Pominville’s empty-netter. I liked Prosser, too, and Marco Scandella brushed off a Shea Weber shot to the leg late in the first.

Not easy to play 57 minutes with five D, but the Wild did an impressive job. Both Stoner and Spurgeon credited the forwards for helping hold the fort down, and Harding said this was one of the soundest Wild defensive efforts of the season.

The fourth line of Zenon Konopka, Stephane Veilleux and Torrey Mitchell provided good, energetic minutes tonight. They were in the offensive zone all night. Konopka set a tone early by fighting Rich Clune and as Stoner said, “letting him know that coming back to our building, it’s not going to be an easy night.” Konopka and Prosser were chirping Clune late in warmups and Konopka fought him the first shift they were on the ice together.

Mitchell also moved up and played with Matt Cooke and Kyle Brodziak when the minutes mattered late in the third.

Yeo said the Wild coaches talked about moving Fontaine up with Koivu and Parise during Monday’s practice and they decided to try it in the second period tonight to get a lefty-righty thing going. He said it had nothing to do with the play of Nino Niederreiter, whom I thought played well tonight. But Fontaine looked real good with Koivu and Parise, too.

Yeo wasn’t overly enamored with the Wild’s third period, particularly turnovers at the offensive blue line that led to some odd-man rushes. But after a 1-2-1 road trip, this is a good win.

Now the Wild must build on it with Carolina coming to town Thursday. The Wild also killed two penalties tonight, including one in the third. Maybe a good building block for a horribly leaky PK this year.

In Harding's last nine home starts, he has three shutouts. Ryan Suter skated in his 600th game tonight -- 542 with Nashville. Fontaine and Matt Cooke lead the team with plus-5's. Parise leads the team with seven points. Cullen said it was real classy of the Wild to pay tribute to him tonight.

That’s it for me. I’ll have a Brodin update for you when the Wild provides one Wednesday.

Also, if you want to come to the chalk talk with Wes Walz and I before Thursday’s game, go to www.wild.com/chalktalk. Comes with a game ticket.


Atlanta 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Houston 6
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Miami 1
Baltimore 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Chicago Cubs 6 FINAL
San Francisco 8
Los Angeles 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
San Diego 4 FINAL
Seattle 9
Cleveland 9 FINAL
Cincinnati 3
Milwaukee 2 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Texas 4 FINAL
Kansas City 5
Colorado 3 FINAL
Arizona 4
Washington 5
Boston 8 FINAL
Minnesota 9
Toronto 0 FINAL
Baltimore 5
Oklahoma City 105 FINAL
Chicago 108
Dallas 75 FINAL
Portland 94
Calgary 4 FINAL(SO)
Boston 3
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Philadelphia 3
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Washington 1
Toronto 2 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Dallas 4 FINAL(SO)
Florida 3
NY Islanders 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Vancouver 2 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 3
Montreal 3 FINAL(SO)
Los Angeles 4
Morgan State 76 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 89
Niagara 54 FINAL
Siena 71
Holy Cross 83 FINAL
Bucknell 90
Western Ky 88 FINAL
Charlotte 84
Navy 62 FINAL
Colgate 72
Temple 70 FINAL
East Carolina 56
Fla Atlantic 62
Boston Univ 64 FINAL
Lafayette 89
American Univ 68 FINAL
Lehigh 62
Wisconsin 76 FINAL
Minnesota 63
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Saint Peters 63
Arkansas 78 FINAL
South Carolina 74
Morehead State 76 FINAL
UT Martin 65
USC Upstate 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 62
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
North Florida 71
Southern Ill 55 FINAL
Missouri State 48
Texas State 64 FINAL
Appalachian St 67
SC State 62 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 72
Delaware State 104 FINAL
Coppin State 92
Middle Tennessee 54 FINAL
FIU 59
Texas-Arlington 64 FINAL
Ga Southern 76
Norfolk State 80 FINAL
Hampton 69
NC Central 69
Savannah State 57 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Southern Miss 61 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 72
Marshall 50 FINAL
Old Dominion 67
Rice 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 74
South Alabama 81 FINAL
Arkansas State 76
Alabama State 78 FINAL
Grambling St 46
Alabama A&M 54 FINAL
Jackson State 72
Sam Houston St 67 FINAL
Lamar 61
Georgia State 58 FINAL
ULM 50
Central Arkansas 70 FINAL
Nicholls 77
Portland State 51 FINAL
Northern Ariz 58
Southern U 77 FINAL
Prairie View 73
Alcorn State 73 FINAL
Texas Southern 94
Houston Baptist 72 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 85
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Louisiana 75
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
New Orleans 85
California 60 FINAL
Arizona 99
Memphis 54 FINAL
Connecticut 53
VA Commonwealth 55 FINAL
Davidson 82
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Sacramento St 65 FINAL
Southern Utah 69
Northwestern St 66 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 92
North Texas 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 83
Colorado 64 FINAL
Washington 47
Idaho 63 FINAL
Weber State 74
Abilene Christian 52 FINAL
Incarnate Word 64
Eastern Wash 85 FINAL
Idaho State 81
Marist 80 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Eastern Ill 64 FINAL
Belmont 97
Bradley 52 FINAL
Drake 50
Cal State Fullerton 62 FINAL
UC Irvine 68
CS-Northridge 58 FINAL
Long Beach State 69
UC Riverside 59 FINAL
UC Davis 61
Stanford 62 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Utah 67 FINAL
Washington St 59
Monmouth 68 FINAL
Canisius 56
Wake Forest 85 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 79
Saint Louis 65 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 58
Saint Peters 62 FINAL
Rider 54
UNC-Asheville 51 FINAL
Liberty 59
UNC Greensboro 44 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 78
Michigan State 69 FINAL
Michigan 49
Arkansas 72 FINAL
Ole Miss 61
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Niagara 57
Massachusetts 63 FINAL
Richmond 67
Virginia 52 FINAL
Miami-Florida 62
Jacksonville St 45 FINAL
Belmont 55
Morgan State 65 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Campbell 65 FINAL
Winthrop 52
Furman 65 FINAL
Samford 54
Oregon 64 FINAL
Washington St 66
Indiana 52 FINAL
(23) Rutgers 63
Pepperdine 67 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 68
Auburn 47 FINAL
(18) Texas A&M 57
Morehead St 66 FINAL
Tennessee St 81
George Mason 43 FINAL
Saint Josephs 71
Western Carolina 53 FINAL
East Tenn St 73
Arizona 62 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Texas State 55 FINAL
Appalachian St 61
TX-Arlington 66 FINAL
Georgia Southern 41
SC State 57 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 56
Delaware State 51 FINAL
Coppin State 80
Portland 58 FINAL
Santa Clara 66
Norfolk State 49 FINAL
Hampton 64
Florida Atlantic 56 FINAL
UAB 59
NC Central 46
Savannah State 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 51
Virginia Tech 51 FINAL
Pittsburgh 45
Central Arkansas 43 FINAL
Nicholls 53
Houston Baptist 48 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 73
Gardner-Webb 70 FINAL
Radford 56
Georgia 75 FINAL
Missouri 64
Old Dominion 67 FINAL
Marshall 55
Ark-Little Rock 68 FINAL
Louisiana 66
South Alabama 60 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
Georgia State 66 FINAL
ULM 61
Sam Houston St 73 FINAL
Lamar 92
SE Louisiana 75 FINAL
New Orleans 84
Northwestern St 45 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 56
Alabama A&M 58 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Alabama State 68 FINAL
Grambling 62
Southern U 78 FINAL
Prairie View 50
Alcorn State 55 FINAL
Texas Southern 73
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Wofford 54 FINAL
Mercer 75
Abilene Christian 72 FINAL
Incarnate Word 62
La Salle 60 FINAL
Rhode Island 65
Illinois 71 FINAL
Nebraska 86
TX-San Antonio 60 FINAL
Rice 49
Valparaiso 55 FINAL
Oakland 70
Missouri State 65 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Georgia Tech 64 FINAL
(15) North Carolina 84
Charlotte 72 FINAL
Western Ky 80
Texas-El Paso 69 FINAL
North Texas 61
Wichita State 77 FINAL
Evansville 63
Loyola-Chicago 64 FINAL
Northern Iowa 69
Bradley 70 FINAL
Drake 86
Presbyterian 62 FINAL
High Point 75
Vanderbilt 61 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 67
Colorado 75 FINAL
USC 63
San Francisco 74 FINAL
Pacific 64
Idaho State 58 FINAL
Eastern Washington 62
Weber State 42 FINAL
Idaho 71
Purdue 78 FINAL
Minnesota 82
Cal-Irvine 54 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 66
Long Beach St 60 FINAL
CS-Northridge 77
Hawaii 60 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 36
UC Davis 56 FINAL
UC-Riverside 61
Northern Ariz 79 FINAL
Portland State 62
Southern Utah 73 FINAL
Sacramento St 107
Utah 64 FINAL
Washington 75
St Marys-CA 64
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