The Wild keeps finding new ways to win, brushing off a frustrating loss Friday night in Dallas, trekking back to Minnesota, falling behind by two goals to the rested reigning Stanley Cup champs but rallying to win 4-3 in a shootout.
Impressive, to say the least. The Wild won for the eighth time in nine games and improved to 13-3-1 at home this season. The Wild’s back on top in the Northwest Division with a game in hand on Vancouver, which was smoked by Edmonton tonight.
After Matt Cullen tied the game in the first period, Jeff Carter and Justin Williams gave Los Angeles a 3-1 lead. But as has been often the case during this hot stretch since Feb. 9, the top line of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle went to work for an impressive forecheck two minutes after Carter’s goal.
Koivu, playing the best he’s ever played in Minnesota, set up Coyle in front. Anze Kopitar’s stick check foiled Coyle’s first attempt, but while down on his knees, the rookie turned the momentum with his fourth goal.
In the third, after the Wild couldn’t get set up on an aggravating 5-on-3, the first minor expired and the Wild scored another $243 million goal – Ryan Suter to Koivu to Parise to force a whistle-free OT.
In the shootout, Parise scored his 32nd, Koivu his 30th and Cullen his 22nd as the veterans lifted the Wild to the W behind Niklas Backstrom’s goaltending. Backstrom, in years past one of the worst in shootouts, is 4-1.
Better yet, he has won a career-high eight straight games and now has a league-leading 19 wins – matching his total in 46 games last year in 19 fewer games.
Suter also had his 25th assist and 28th point – tying injured Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang for first in the NHL among blue-liners in both categories.
Koivu registered his 11th multi-point game of the year and now has a team-best 33 points. He has a 7-game point streak and has just been dynamite in every facet. Parise scored his team-best 15th goal and team-best sixth on the power play. He now has 15 points in his past 12 games and a plus-13 in the past 11.
Cullen has 19 points in his past 19 games. Devin Setoguchi has 21 points in his past 24. Pierre-Marc Bouchard has 10 in his past nine.
The Wild went 11-4 in March, tying its best record for a single month (Nov. 2011).
Brett Clark made his Wild debut, and while he was on for one goal on the PK, he just got better as the night went on. The veteran is poised, can skate, knows when to step up in the play and has a very good shot.
Torrey Mitchell was sick, and with no extra forward here, defenseman Nate Prosser had to play forward tonight. Justin Falk was the lone healthy scratch.
Read the game story here for the rest of the details. Some good quotes tonight. Also, please read the Koivu-led notebook. Yeo says he’s playing like an “absolute superstar.” The notebook also has stuff on Clark’s debut, funny quotes from Zenon Konopka on his sister singing the national anthem and the incident in Dallas where he and Mike Rupp tried to flip a Stars player in the Wild bench and there’s also some stuff on the Wild’s third line, which is a combined minus-30.
I also did my Sunday column on the Jarome Iginla trade. My blog Q and A will likely run Monday.
No practice Sunday. Barring news, talk to you from the morning skates Monday as the St. Louis Blues come to town.