The Florida Panthers remain the only team in the NHL that has yet to win at Xcel Energy Center in regulation. It’s the curse of Russo, I suppose.
5-1 winners tonight for the Wild, and even though the shots were lopsided for part of tonight’s game (it ended 30-22, Florida), the Wild didn’t give up a ton of high quality scoring chances at all (felt like everything was unscreened from the outside) and it felt like the Wild spent the first two periods on the penalty kill.
The Wild moved into second in the Central Division with the win. Technically, it’s tied with St. Louis with 36 points, but the Wild has played two fewer games.
The Wild’s now 10-3 at home, 9-3-1 against the East (after being 13-16-3 last season), 7-1-3 in its past 11 overall and has won five in a row overall and at home. Minnesota and Chicago are the only teams in the West that have lost fewer than 10 games in regulation (eight).
Good win for the Wild, and if you want to hear more from Bruce Boudreau, I am filling in for Paul Allen on KFAN from 9-noon on Wednesday before my flight to Nashville, so tune in.
Also on the show: Mark Parrish, Dave Simonett from Trampled by Turtles and Dead Man Winter, a Wild broadcaster roundtable with Anthony LaPanta, Mike Greenlay and Kevin Gorg and Minnesota United manager Adrian Heath on the MLS expansion draft.
Tonight, Roberto Luongo was pulled after giving up five goals on 17 shots. It was the fourth time in his last seven visits to St. Paul that he got the yank. He’s now 0-6-1 in his last seven here with a 4.33 goals-against average and .840 save percentage. He’s now 3-12-3 all-time here.
The Wild’s five goals came from its top three lines.
Line 1: Zach Parise, off the first of Jason Pominville’s two assists, snapped a seven-game goal drought and Eric Staal batted a rebound out of the air off his own breakaway. Line 2: Jason Zucker had a goal and assist and Mikko Koivu scored his fifth goal in 10 games. Line 3: Erik Haula wasn’t picked up by his old University of Minnesota roommate, Nick Bjugstad, and buried a Nino Niederreiter rebound for the eventual winner.
“It’s something you want to have,” Koivu said of the balance. “It’s a long season, so you need some nights some other guys stepping up and the next night some other guys. If you look around the league, all the good teams, they have that depth. Now that we’re healthy, you can really see that. All lines were going.”
Parise was really good tonight. He scored early to snap a seven-game drought, had six shots, five takeaways and two blocked shots. He was very physical, too.
“Nice to not have one come down to the wire with someone pulling their goalie and a one-goal game,” Parise said. “You hope that we can have more of those. We know that’s not always easy, but that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The Wild plays in Nashville on Thursday for the first meeting of the season between the Preds and Wild. Nashville moved into the top-8 with a 6-3 win over St. Louis tonight, and even though they stink on the road, they’re 10-2-2 at home. So big challenge for the Wild.
Devan Dubnyk continues to rock and roll. 7-0-2 in his past nine with a 1.62 goals-against average and .944 save percentage. He lost his shutout in the final minutes, but he is 14-6-3 with a 1.60 goals-against average and .947 save percentage to lead the league in both categories.
That’s it for now. Please read the gamer for much more info and many more quotes, but I need to run and get some sleep before the show in the morning.