It has been so long since we’ve seen the Wild chase a game, I forgot what it looked like.
But trailing for the first time since Dec. 9 (six games before) … twice, the Wild rallied both times to ultimately take a big 4-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
Playing a team that was 15-2-2 at home and 17-2-2 when scoring first, the Wild tied franchise records by extending its win streak to nine games and 9-0-1 point streak to 10.
Bruce Boudreau isn’t satisfied, which could explain why he has coached win streaks of nine or more games five times in his successful career.
“Tying is like kissing your sister,” Boudreau said. “Getting it is the nice thing. Our job’s not done. We’re going to try out butts off [Friday against the Rangers].”
Jordan Schroeder, in the lineup because Zach Parise is sick again (more on that in a sec), and Jared Spurgeon scored the tying goals, then Eric Staal scored his first shorthanded goal in four years and 17th of his career 3:08 into the third. Jason Zucker, who had six shots and assisted on Spurgeon’s first goal since Oct. 18, sealed the deal with an empty-netter.
The Wild has won four in a row on the road and is now 11-1-3 in its past 15 games. No regulation losses since Nov. 29, and Devan Dubnyk made 32 saves to extend his career-best win streak to eight and point streak to 12 (10-0-2). He has no regulation losses since Nov. 19 and has still not allowed more than three goals in a game.
Just a big win for the Wild, Staal and Mikko Koivu said, and Dubnyk admitted he actually had some butterflies from the Dubnyk vs. Carey Price hype.
Dubnyk and Price summer in Kelowna, B.C., so they know each other from skating together. During warmups, they chatted while stretching at the red line, and Dubnyk told Price he has been talking about him for a week and a half. Price said, “Same here.”
Dubnyk lived up to the billing, that’s for sure. Boudreau said he had all the confidence in the world that Dubnyk was done giving up goals when Montreal made it 2-1 because he has seen Dubnyk basically say, “That’s it,” countless times this season.
Parise, Boudreau said, also won’t play against the Rangers. As you may have noticed, he has had his own water bottle on the bench ever since he had strep throat last month. Well, he apparently got it again a few weeks ago, hasn’t felt that great since and now he has been hit with strep or something similar head-on yet again.
He looks like a wreck.
Back to the game, big goal at a big time by Schroeder, who said it was a big confidence booster and fun to be parachuted into such a winning team.
The Wild penalty kill, one game after killing four in the third period against Colorado, had to kill three more in the third tonight. One was a sloppy too many men late. The other, a mistaken call on Charlie Coyle when a puck hit Alex Radulov, resulted in the Staal goal.
“Great job by everybody,” Staal said of the PK. “It was big when it needed to be.”
His five game-winners are tied for third in the NHL. His 11 goals are tied for Coyle for the team lead.
“We hung in there pretty well,” Boudreau said. “I thought it was a really good game.”
He said he did feel the Wild took advantage of a Canadiens team that was without three solid D, especially Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin.
“I thought we never quit and we always believed,” Boudreau said. “Anytime you’re trailing against Montreal, you never think Price is going to let one in. Right now we’ve got a never quit, never say die attitude whoever’s in or out of the lineup.”
Boudreau on Zucker: "He was good. His legs were moving. When his legs are moving, he’s a good player."
Parise’s absence caused Boudreau to load up the top two lines. He moved Staal between Nino Niederreiter and Coyle and kept the Zucker-Mikko Koivu (19 faceoff wins tonight)-Granlund line intact.
That meant third and fourth lines of Chris Stewart-Tyler Graovac-Jason Pominville and Schroeder-Pat Cannone-Kurtis Gabriel.
We’ll see if the Wild can keep this up against the Rangers. My guess is the Wild won’t have a morning skate, so lineup and goalie update may need to wait until a couple hours before gametime.