FOLIN STATUS UPDATED
Get this: after tonight’s 6-2 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, the Wild has scored 23 goals in November. Ten were in two games against the Penguins, 13 came in nine other games.
As Zach Parise basically said with a smile afterward: It’s November.
“You don’t want to read into it too much, they’re a good team,” Parise said. “We played really well tonight. It’s just one of those games you want to replicate and do again [Saturday] against St. Louis.”
Friday’s win was especially impressive because other than a Phil Kessel one-timer and a fluky goal the Wild put into its own net, the Wild shut down the Pens despite playing the final 2 ½ periods with five defensemen.
Bad news: Christian Folin won’t play Saturday when the Wild opens a five-game trip against the Blues and will miss three to four weeks with a sprained MCL. He tried to dodge a check from Sidney Crosby behind the net and his left leg took the brunt of the impact.
Unfortunately, a knee injury by a player who has been superb all year.
“He’s going to be missed,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He’s a big bodied guy that we could definitely use. No matter how you cut it, he’s going to be missed, whether it’s a short time or a long time, for two games or for 10 games.”
Nate Prosser, who hasn't played a game on the blue line since Nov. 5, will play in St. Louis.
Against the Pens, the Wild got two goals each from Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter. Niederreiter’s were both on the power play as the Wild scored three times with the man advantage, the first time this season it scored more than one power-play goal in a game.
Coyle scored 40 seconds into the game, then again with 22.2 seconds left in the first. That was huge because it sent the Pens into the locker room with a two-goal deficit again and eventually became Coyle’s 14th career game-winner.
Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund each had a goal and assist, Jonas Brodin had his first career three-assist and three-point game and Devan Dubnyk, who had to be good the first 15 minutes of the second period especially, made 34 saves.
The Wild swept the season series with the Pens by scoring 10 goals on 80 shots.
“It’s nice to score more than two goals or three goals. That’s a great win for us,” Boudreau said.
The Parise-Staal-Coyle line was stupendous. They forechecked the heck out of the Pens all game and forced Pittsburgh’s D into several turnovers.
The Wild’s power play has scored six times in the past four games. The difference? Boudreau said, “We’re shooting. Shooting the puck. And John works very hard at that, [assistant coach] John Anderson. I keep telling him, ‘Just keep pounding it in them, pounding it in them to shoot it.’ And he does, he shows it everyday, and when you shoot pucks, good things happen.”
Granlund now has 13 points in the past 15 games. Brodin has 10 points in 20 games after just seven in 68 games last season.
“He’s skating extremely well,” Boudreau said. “He’s just brimming with confidence right now, so those two factors, he’s got a lot of ability, and his shot is a rocket.”
Some other quotes:
On all the goal: “Yeah, we’ll take ‘em. It’s incredible with these guys, forechecking, and when a puck pops loose it goes in and gets some bounces and gives us some confidence going forward.”
Nice not to play a low-scoring game: “Yeah, it was definitely different. It’s fun to play like that, but we were playing our game. We were doing the little things, and those things lead to goals like that. Like Zach said, we got a few power-play goals instead of coming off and kind of feeling, ‘Dah! You didn’t score on the power play.’ You get one. You’re feeling good, and it’s the opposite and gets everyone going like you said. We played a good game, all the way up and all the way down, and we do those little things, we play the right way, we’re going to have those games sometimes. It’s fun.”
On the early goal: “We figured they’d have a pretty good push right away, come in hungry, and to get one right off the bat is huge. It gets the guys going. It gets them in a good mood. We were feeling good about our play, and there’s not a whole lot of pressure after that, you know? You can just play hockey, do the little things, play the right way and keep going like we did.”
On his second goal: “Going into the period a couple goals ahead is a totally different story. You know that team doesn’t give up. We keep going the right way like we did, and like I said, doing the little things out there. Winning battles, board play, just getting pucks in the net and guys traffic, and sometimes we get a few like that.”
On the offensive chances: “It's not like they were bad goals going in on the other end. [Marc-Andre Fleury] made some great saves on top of the goals that we scored. That's something that I've seen from us plenty of times before and certainly knew it was going to come at some point if we stuck with it. That's exciting to see. Nothing special other than our guys working and using their speed and making some great plays on the other end.”
On Coyle’s first goal: “It was just a hard working play. It's something we've seen from Zach over and over and over again. The important thing was Charlie going to the net. If Charlie doesn't go to the net that puck probably gets swept away. It was a good start to the game, especially for an important game.
On his line: “I thought as a team we were quick. We were tenacious on the forecheck and our sticks and second-efforts on pucks created a lot of chances. They are a team that with their talent they want to go the other way. So if we can be aggressive on their D and quick on the forecheck, we're going to turn some pucks over and get some really good looks. We did that right from the get go. Our line was real good offensively. We have to hopefully build on it.
On the offensive breakout: “That confidence is gaining. It was a good job by the guys on the power play creating some opportunities and right now they're going in. It's something we want to keep going as long as we can. Once they're falling we want to continue to drive and push. But we can't get away from our game and that's defending really well and being difficult to play against because that's going to be what holds us together the whole season. If we keep that going we have enough talent here to score goals. It's nice to put a bunch on the board today. Now we have to follow it up tomorrow in St. Louis.”
Most complete effort of the year: “Could be, we were ready to go right from the first period. Special teams was really good on the PK and on the power play. Our 5-on-5 play was really good so, I think we should be really happy with how we played.”
Luxury not to play in a one-goal game: “It’s nice to put three in in the first period and at least give a little bit of breathing room. Not going into the third period in a 1-1 game or a 0-0 game, it’s a little nicer.”
His line: “I thought we got in the zone well when we had to dump it. I thought we forechecked really well. We got in their [defensemen] pretty quickly and were able to make some turnovers and then when we did, we attacked the net right away I thought, caught them a little off guard before they could get into their coverage. We had a lot of good looks again. Hockey is fun when you’re consistently getting those chances.”
Power play: “It was good. I hope it’s something we can improve on and keep working at. That’s such a big part of the game for us. Again, when you can get one on the power play, it’s hard to score 5-on-5, so when you can get one on the power play, it’s amazing what it does for the team and the guys as individuals.”
Trying to get Coyle the hat trick:
“Yeah, I think we tried to force-feed him at the end. It’s tough to get a hat trick and when you have two, or one of your linemates has two, you’re trying to get him a third and get him the puck as much as you can. He didn’t want it tonight though [joking].”
That’s it for me.
I assume Darcy Kuemper starts in St. Louis because he has played well lately, although it’s not a typical back to back. Wild should be in around 9 p.m., so we’ll see.
Dubnyk earned his ninth win of the season, stopping 34-of-36 shots. He has allowed 15 total goals in his last 12 games, stopping 356-of-368 shots in that span for a 1.26 GAA, a .959 SV% and four shutouts since Oct. 25. He is 9-6-1 with a 1.58 GAA, a .948 SV% and four shutouts in 16 starts this season – ranking first amongst NHL goalies with at least 10 games played in GAA and SV% while his 25 goals against this season are tied for the fifth-fewest.