The Wild extended its win streak to seven games, tied for second-longest in franchise history achieved four times and the last being March 2013 (so Zach Parise and Ryan Suter’s first season here), with a 4-1 win over Arizona on Saturday.
The longest win streak in franchise history is nine games set in 2007.
The Wild extended its point streak to eight games (7-0-1, since Bruce Boudreau made the Wild practice instead of having the day off in Calgary) and extended its home win streak to six games.
The Wild has points in 12 of the past 13 games (9-1-3 for 21 out of a possible 26).
The last regulation loss was Nov. 29 with Darcy Kuemper in net. Kuemper got back in the cage and made 27 saves for his first win since Nov. 13 and second regulation win of the season.
The big news in the game is Erik Haula sustained a lower-body injury two minutes in the game and on his second shift. Hopefully we’ll get an update after Monday’s practice (the Wild’s off Sunday), but Tyler Graovac moved up and stepped up bigtime with a career-best 18:45 of ice time. He scored his first career winning goal (funny, it was on the worst of his probably four or five scoring chances because it was an attempted 2-on-1 pass to Jason Zucker that Graovac fanned on), he had a career-high five shots, tied a career-high with three hits and he won eight faceoffs.
Also, Zac Dalpe was cleared to return from knee surgery. He has been practicing for a few weeks, so the Wild sent him to Iowa to play Sunday against Manitoba, and I’d presume he will be recalled to play Tuesday against Colorado if Haula is indeed sidelined beyond the Coyotes game.
Ryan Suter scored a power-play goal in the first period on the second of three Oliver Ekman-Larsson penalties (Coyotes coach Dave Tippett was highly critical of OEL’s play today and lately after the game), and from that goal on, the Wild dominated the Coyotes.
Players hit five posts and Nino Niederreiter himself could have had three goals and ended with none. The Wild could have won this game 12-1. Instead, the Wild improved its point streak against Arizona to 7-0-2.
The Wild, which is the best defensive team in the NHL, has also outscored its last four opponents 17-5.
Chris Stewart scored a big third-period goal and Eric Staal, who has five goals and eight points in the past eight games, scored an empty-net goal to tie Charlie Coyle for first on the team with 10 goals.
Suter and Jared Spurgeon were each plus-3. Suter now leads the NHL with a plus-22, and nine of the top-35 plus-minus players in the league are from your Minnesota Wild.
Couple extra quotes, and I’ll probably write about Graovac for Monday’s paper because there was a lot of colorful stuff after the game.
Explaining the streak, Stewart said it’s because the Wild’s not getting big heads: “Just a quick memory. Not reading headlines, guys aren’t too happy here after the win. It’s just seems like business as usual, that’s being pro about it. Enjoy it for the night, and next day you come to work and get ready for the next opponent.”
Boudreau on if he was worried that the Wild could so severely outchance a team yet only had a 2-0 lead going into the third: “When it was 2-0, I was a little worried ... and then Zucks missed in the first five seconds of the third period and I'm going , ‘Ugh. C'mon.’ I had all the confidence in the world in [Kuemper] because I think he was dead on today.”
On if the fact the Wild has points in eight straight games has anything to do with the fact that he made the team practice in Calgary after the last regulation loss Nov. 29, Boudreau said, “I think it’s a fluke, I think they’ve gotten points in eight in a row because they’ve been good.”
Kuemper quotes: “It’s never fun sitting back and watching, but it’s a little bit easier when the team’s been playing like they have been. It was just nice to get out there and feel like I was contributing to a good thing we got going and it was a fun game in front of the home crowd and it was a big win.
“You always want to feel a part of it. You always want to be out there playing every game. It’s just nice to get called for the start and go out there and get a win.”
Graovac: “I had a blast out there. I've been waiting for an opportunity like that for awhile. Haulsy is a big part of our lineup obviously. If I can come in and be a support guy as well as I can that's what I'm going to do.”
On his goal: “I've had tons of chances. It's nice that one was more of a lucky one. I kept staying positive and kept trying to get it to the net. Supporting through the middle is the biggest thing for me and pushing the pace. So one of them had to go in.”
That’s it for now. Please read the gamer once it’s up later. The notebook is on how confusing the bench was tonight after Haula’s injury with the three remaining centers playing with every winger, on the Wild’s streak and Boudreau’s history of streaks, Suter and some other stuff.
Please also read my Sunday Insider on the 2003 draft, and how three of the best players in the best draft maybe in NHL history are on the Wild: Staal, Zach Parise and Suter.
Teemu Pulkkinen was reassigned after the game, by the way.