Zach Parise called it a “boring game.” He said there “was just not much going either way, a lot of chipping pucks, throwing them off glass, not much sustained pressure either way.” He called it kind of a “blah game.”
Yet, there were two major highlights that came from Tuesday’s 2-1 Wild win at Edmonton.
There was this:
The first was Charlie Coyle scoring a tremendous winning goal with 4:23 left that ESPN anchor and birthday boy John Buccigross just DM'ed me was the top play on tonight's SportsCenter. Jordan Eberle, in a tie game, passed the puck into Matt Fraser’s skate and Coyle was right there to turn and counter. His eyes opened when he saw nothing but open ice, but he said he was surprised when goalie Viktor Fasth challenged so aggressively.
Coyle ran out of real estate, but despite being five or six feet behind the net, he used his long reach to tuck the puck inside the post for his seventh career winning goal.
The second was Zach Parise taking a puck to the face in the first period. Spitting up blood, Parise almost humorously reached down with his left arm, picked up one of his bottom-right teeth (may have been a premolar or canine, I’m no dentist) and handed it to athletic therapist Don Fuller.
Parise, whose face has been a magnet starting with that ugly incident at the Garden in October when he took a stick to the face and needed major plastic surgery below his nose and on the right side of the upper lip, had several stitches on his lower lip after the game, the missing tooth. But no lisp.
Sadly, they won’t be able to save Parise’s tooth. He’ll need another fake.
“I thought maybe there was a chance, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to go back in,” Parise, who was back by the start of the second period, said.
Much-needed win by the Wild, which defended real well but didn’t manage the puck well and wasn’t sharp offensively.
Originally, I was writing a big story for Thursday on Nino Niederreiter’s 18-game goal drought. Well, I assumed it would get to 18. It didn’t. He ended a 17-game drought tonight in the first period when Justin Fontaine stole a puck and set Niederreiter up for his first goal since Dec. 16 at the goalmouth.
I had a long chat with him this morning for the interview and he joked that he’d use it as motivation tonight to ruin my story. I said, “Take it as a pep talk.”
After the game, he came out of the locker room with a big smile and said, “That’s exactly what I needed. Our chat sure worked out.”
Now, I guess I’ll write for Thursday on Niederreiter and Coyle, who always seemed to be connected at the hip when it comes to Yeo trying to spur them along, scoring big goals.
Niederreiter said it was a “big relief,” gave Fontaine full props and Yeo also said he was happy with each forward’s overall game for most of the night despite limited ice time. Neither hit 12 minutes.
Devan Dubnyk made 23 saves and is now 4-0 against his old team (three 2-1 wins) and has stopped 113 of 117 shots against the Oilers. He was big in the second period and the only goal of the game that beat him was a cheesy, off-the-mark wraparound that, par for the course, deflected in off a Wild player’s toe – Kyle Brodziak.
Needed win by Minnesota because Calgary won, so the Wild’s still seven back. But Vancouver, Winnipeg and Dallas – three teams the Wild’s chasing – all lost.
Yeo loved the way the Wild competed, from Parise losing a tooth to Mikko Koivu blocking a big shot and having a couple big hits to Mikael Granlund still courageously going to the dirty areas despite coming off injuries (although judge for yourself if you want him to get clobbered the way he does). Nate Prosser, at least for now, seemed to survive a head scare in the third period because he returned to the game. Ryan Suter was limping after the game, but Yeo had no reports of an injury as of his presser.
Onto Calgary. Talk to ya Wednesday.