Remember that winter swoon thing from yesteryear?
Missing in action this season.
The Wild continued its impressive hallmark of bouncing back from defeats – well, as rare as defeats have been since losing in regulation Nov. 29 here in Vancouver – by beating the Canucks, 6-3, Saturday at Rogers Arena.
Coming off a 5-1 loss in Calgary, the Wild yet again avoid consecutive losses in regulation. The last – and only – time that occurred was Nov. 1 and 5.
Games 10 and 11 of the season.
“I thought we were pretty good,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We had a couple breakdowns I thought in the second period, but we counted that we only gave them six scoring chances all night, so when you can hold a team to under 10, that’s fairly good.”
After giving up 79 shots the past two games, the Wild held the Canucks to 27 – and four of those came in the last four minutes. The Wild played a superb third period, went for the win, played tight defensively and gained a three-goal cushion on Mikael Granlund’s third goal of the game for his first career hat trick and 22nd in Wild history.
Remember, the Wild gave up two goals in the first few minutes of the third period the last time it was in Vancouver to see a 2-2 tie become a 4-2 lead.
“We discussed third period, not being safe, but doing the right things, and if you do the right things, you can play aggressively,” Boudreau said. “I thought getting the puck deep, playing behind their net, not taking any foolish chances, I thought that was really done well in the third period. Maybe the last couple minutes we gave up a chance or two, but that usually happens.”
Granlund had a career-high four points and extended his point streak to a franchise-record 12 games (five goals, 17 points). The point streak is the longest in the NHL this season and came with his brother, Markus, playing for the Canucks.
Granlund said hat tricks don’t happen too often for him, and he doesn’t even remember if he has had one in the past.
Coincidentally, it came hours after Boudreau sang his praises by saying he’s no longer a hidden secret and he’s one of the best playmakers he’s ever had from a winger perspective. Later, he showed he can score goals, too.
Linesmates Mikko Koivu (goal, assist and 10 goals and 24 points in his past 23 games) and Jason Zucker (two assists for 21 points in the past 20 games) ribbed Granlund for barely showing a smile after scoring.
I’ll write much more on the line in Monday’s paper, but Boudreau had some funny stuff to say how his prized shutdown line is also his best scoring line. Boudreau said tonight was the first time all season he went with a hard match on the road by making sure Koivu’s line was out against the Sedins every shift. How many times tonight did the first or fourth line leave the ice the second the Sedins jumped on?
Granlund’s first goal came on a Zucker rebound. His second goal came after a wrestling match after a Koivu draw. Matt Dumba, who had two assists, shoveled the puck up and Marco Scandella smartly joined the play to turn it into a 3-on-1. Granlund scored shorthanded and joked he didn’t remember the last time he shot on an odd-man rush, which probably surprised Ryan Miller. His third goal came after he shrewdly triggered a 2-on-1 with Zucker and Koivu. After Zucker’s awesome hustle, Granlund scored on the rebound.
Jared Spurgeon also had two assists and Mike Reilly scored his second career goal (first since Mike Yeo’s final game) and Zach Parise scored the winner – a huge goal after Vancouver pulled within one.
Alex Tuch had two shots and looked like he belonged. Boudreau said he has some things to learn, but he was on the line with Parise and Staal for most the game.
Granlund established career-highs for goals (15) and points (48) in 51 games. Granlund was the 12th Wild player to ever have a hat trick.
In 24 games since Dec. 13, the conference-leading Wild, which also leads in goals, has scored five or more goals 11 times. It was the 22nd time this season the Wild has scored four or more goals.
That’s it for me. Travel day for the Wild on Sunday and an insane travel day for me. Let’s put it this way: I’m taking the very long way to Winnipeg.