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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El Nino strikes in overtime; Wild makes roster moves

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: February 6, 2014 - 11:40 PM

Now you know why coach Mike Yeo says Nino Niederreiter has a “silly hard shot.”

Very impressive final two games before the Olympic break for the Swiss winger, who tonight in a 3-2 victory over Nashville scored his first career overtime winner.

He also assisted on Jonas Brodin’s goal and this came two nights after scoring the Wild’s first goal in a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay.

The Wild, now sixth in the West but still in the first wildcard position because that’s how it worked (see postgame blog against Tampa Bay if you’re confused), is seven points up on ninth-place Phoenix and six up on Vancouver, which sits in the second wildcard spot.

The Wild, which had lost six in a row at the turn of the New Year and looked like it was about to roll over and die with guys like Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Jared Spurgeon and Josh Harding sidelined, entered the Olympic break on an 11-4-2 run.

“We’re going the right direction. There’s still a lot of room to get better at though,” said Parise, who scored his 19th goal and 10th on the power play tonight.

The team is now off for 20 days. The five Olympians (maybe four if we learn Friday Koivu has to pull out) will leave for Sochi on Sunday. The non-Olympians will begin practicing again Feb. 19.

Erik Haula and Johan Gustafsson were reassigned after the game. Darcy Kuemper can’t go down because he’s above the 16 games in the team’s final 20 games before the break threshold. Plus, I don’t think he should have his health risked anyway because the Wild will undoubtedly need him after the break.

The one news that did come after the game is now we know why I started to hear yesterday that Jason Zucker wasn’t being reassigned to Iowa. Yeo said after the game that he will have a “minor procedure” and should be ready to rejoin the team after the break.

Read the game story for all the details. Niederreiter turned inside on and shot in between the legs of Swiss pal Roman Josi for the winner. Josi will be Niederreiter’s Olympic roommate, which should be … challenging now.

Very solid last two games for the Wild to enter the break on a winning note after consecutive road losses to end the last trip.

“Really good solid overall couple games for us,” Jason Pominville said.

Kuemper had the yips and looked a little rusty tonight. He said like a wide receiver in football, on Craig Smith’s first of two goals tonight, he was deciding what he was going to do with the puck before he swallowed it. Because of that, he said he dropped the puck.

But he said his teammates played a heck of a game in front of him (outshot Nashville 36-18) and that first goal didn’t faze them. He joked that the three hit pucks by Nashville just happened because he had the angle taken away.

“A little bit of puck luck goes a long way,” he said.

Impressive last five weeks for the Wild.

But Yeo said he wants the Wild to keep climbing and not worry about its cushion, saying, “we haven’t done anything yet. We’ve put ourselves in a good position, but there’s a lot of work to do here still.”

Yeo joked that six weeks ago, when his job was on the line, was a “piece of cake, slept like a baby.” For me personally, all I wanted was for our players to look at me and say he has confidence, we should have confidence. I believed in the group.”

Happy Olympic break everybody. I’ll be back Friday if there’s Koivu news. Remember, there’s an Olympic trade freeze Friday at 2 p.m. until Feb. 23, so there should be little news throughout the Olympic break.

Enjoy the Olympics.

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New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Milwaukee 59 3rd Qtr
Orlando 44
New York 49 3rd Qtr
Indiana 54
Denver 11 1st Qtr 2:41
Memphis 22
Chicago 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Montreal 0 2nd Prd 14:26
NY Rangers 0
Winnipeg 2 2nd Prd 13:21
Philadelphia 3
Boston 2 2nd Prd 10:30
NY Islanders 1
Arizona 0 2nd Prd
Toronto 1
Dallas 3 1st Prd :13
Ottawa 2
Detroit 1 2nd Prd
Tampa Bay 2
Columbus 0 2nd Prd
Florida 0
Nashville 0 1st Prd 15:00
St. Louis 0
Minnesota 8:00 PM
Calgary
Buffalo 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Anaheim 9:00 PM
San Jose
DePaul 72 FINAL
Providence 83
Michigan State 71 FINAL
Rutgers 51
Boston Univ 37 2nd Half
Army 32
Fla Atlantic 37 2nd Half 14:00
Charlotte 53
Youngstown St 38 2nd Half 15:00
Detroit 45
East Tenn St 37 2nd Half 12:10
Furman 37
Saint Louis 29 2nd Half 15:46
George Mason 41
USC Upstate 50 2nd Half 15:44
Jacksonville 38
High Point 33 2nd Half
Liberty 26
Central Conn St 42 2nd Half 8:41
Long Island 56
Western Ky 32 2nd Half 13:09
Louisiana Tech 47
Dayton 48 2nd Half 11:19
Massachusetts 52
Chattanooga 38 2nd Half 12:38
Mercer 44
Wofford 40 2nd Half 13:04
UNC Greensboro 32
Maryland 35 2nd Half 15:49
Ohio State 48
FIU 38 2nd Half 13:07
Old Dominion 43
Fair-Dickinson 37 2nd Half 13:38
Robert Morris 52
Mount St Marys 38 2nd Half 14:15
St Francis-NY 37
Bryant 46 2nd Half 11:52
St Francis-PA 55
Northern Ky 27 2nd Half
Stetson 37
Coll of Charleston 27 2nd Half 12:37
Towson 38
Western Carolina 55 2nd Half 15:26
Va Military 44
Sacred Heart 33 2nd Half
Wagner 30
Lipscomb 34 2nd Half 13:12
Fla Gulf Coast 48
Kennesaw St 32 2nd Half 15:40
North Florida 59
Appalachian St 16 2nd Half
Ga Southern 33
Holy Cross 18 1st Half 0:04
Loyola-Maryland 26
Eastern Ill 22 2nd Half
UT Martin 43
Jacksonville St 8 1st Half 12:40
Belmont 18
Connecticut 9 1st Half 11:24
Cincinnati 16
Rider 11 1st Half 11:52
Saint Peters 7
SIU Edwardsville 13 1st Half 11:06
SE Missouri St 13
Marshall 20 1st Half 12:03
Southern Miss 8
Tenn Tech 9 1st Half 11:41
Tennessee St 11
Middle Tennessee 11 1st Half 14:41
TX-San Antonio 12
Ill-Chicago 9 1st Half 12:17
Milwaukee 10
Weber State 10 1st Half 13:25
North Dakota 8
Denver 11 1st Half 12:06
North Dakota St 5
IUPU-Ft Wayne 11 1st Half 11:57
South Dakota 13
Louisiana 7 1st Half 14:33
South Alabama 8
Georgia State 7:15 PM
Texas-Arlington
Ark-Little Rock 7:30 PM
Arkansas State
ULM 7:30 PM
Troy
Portland 8:00 PM
Gonzaga
Kentucky 8:00 PM
Missouri
Eastern Ky 8:00 PM
Murray State
UAB 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Idaho State 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
UMKC 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Chicago State 8:05 PM
Utah Valley U
Colorado 8:30 PM
USC
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
Hawaii 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Pepperdine 9:00 PM
Pacific
Santa Clara 9:00 PM
San Diego
Utah 9:00 PM
UCLA
UC Santa Barbara 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Montana 9:05 PM
Portland State
Montana State 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Long Beach State 9:30 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Loyola Marymount 9:30 PM
St Marys-CA
San Francisco 10:00 PM
BYU
California 10:00 PM
Washington St
Louisiana 47 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Saint Josephs 51 FINAL
Saint Louis 52
Appalachian St 77 FINAL
Georgia Southern 74
Niagara 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 65
Old Dominion 80 FINAL
FIU 67
Southern Miss 65 FINAL
Marshall 67
Georgia State 45 FINAL
TX-Arlington 57
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
ULM 51 FINAL
Troy 90
Pittsburgh 45 FINAL
(17) Duke 62
(6) Tennessee 38 2nd Half 13:41
(10) Kentucky 41
(24) Oklahoma 44 2nd Half 13:32
(14) Texas 39
Nebraska Omaha 36 2nd Half 11:38
IUPU-Ft Wayne 45
UC-Riverside 48 2nd Half 11:23
CS-Northridge 40
Army 44 2nd Half 13:48
Boston U 21
New Orleans 26 2nd Half 11:46
Nicholls 43
Charlotte 32 2nd Half 18:51
Florida Atlantic 39
Towson 31 2nd Half 8:26
Delaware 51
Hofstra 39 2nd Half 16:28
Northeastern 27
New Hampshire 39 2nd Half 11:11
Maine 65
Albany 55 2nd Half 12:54
Vermont 33
Hartford 41 2nd Half 11:14
Stony Brook 46
UNC-Wilmington 43 2nd Half 8:05
William & Mary 54
Clemson 39 2nd Half 16:30
Wake Forest 36
Alabama 30 2nd Half 15:34
(1) South Carolina 48
(23) Syracuse 38 2nd Half 13:20
(8) Louisville 48
Missouri 37 2nd Half 18:23
Florida 31
Iona 45 2nd Half 11:32
Fairfield 56
Manhattan 23 2nd Half 15:54
Marist 56
NC State 51 2nd Half 11:03
Virginia 44
(4) Notre Dame 51 2nd Half 15:04
Virginia Tech 24
(22) Rutgers 30 2nd Half 15:56
Purdue 30
(5) Maryland 61 2nd Half 14:04
Michigan 48
Milwaukee 37 2nd Half 12:49
Cleveland State 41
Wright State 73 2nd Half 13:32
Oakland 57
Jacksonville 29 2nd Half 17:10
USC Upstate 34
North Florida 36 2nd Half 8:37
Kennesaw St 31
Stetson 25 2nd Half 15:21
Northern Ky 48
Loyola-Maryland 36 2nd Half 11:08
Holy Cross 32
Lamar 42 1st Half 2:03
Sam Houston St 32
Fla Gulf Coast 31 1st Half 1:37
Lipscomb 17
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
McNeese State 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Vanderbilt 4 1st Half 15:9
(18) Miss State 4
IUPUI 9 1st Half 13:39
Western Ill 16
Abilene Christian 20 1st Half 12:08
Houston Baptist 12
Oral Roberts 13 1st Half 14:32
South Dakota St 4
Louisiana Tech 4 1st Half 15:58
Western Ky 10
TX-San Antonio 8 1st Half 11:48
Middle Tennessee 17
Texas-El Paso 7 1st Half 11:29
UAB 12
Auburn 8 1st Half 12:42
Arkansas 11
Grand Canyon 4 1st Half 12:38
UMKC 8
Illinois 6 1st Half 15:34
(15) Nebraska 1
(20) Iowa 20 1st Half 13:09
Northwestern 15
Utah Valley U 4 1st Half 15:20
Chicago State 6
Green Bay 16 1st Half 11:56
Valparaiso 5
Ole Miss 8:00 PM
LSU
Portland State 8:00 PM
Montana
Sacramento St 8:00 PM
Montana State
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Weber State
Ohio State 8:00 PM
Wisconsin
Northern Colorado 8:00 PM
Idaho State
BYU 9:00 PM
San Francisco
St Marys-CA 9:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Pacific 9:00 PM
Pepperdine
Cal-Irvine 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
San Diego 9:00 PM
Santa Clara
UC Davis 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Long Beach St 10:59 PM
Hawaii
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