Just what we all expected from the two best defensive teams in the West – a six-goal third period, four from the Wild, during a 5-4 come-from-behind Minnesota victory.
What a way to avoid the Wild’s second regulation losing streak of the season. The Wild scored at least four goals in the third period for the 10th time in franchise history and the first time since opening night in Colorado in 2015.
The Wild also overcame multiple deficits of 2+ goals to win for just the second time in franchise history (also Dec. 4, 2009 vs ANA: 5-4 SO W).
Instead, the Wild rallied for a seventh straight road win. It’s now 15-2-3 in its past 20 and 8-1-3 in its past 12 on the road.
It leads the West with a .703 points percentage, which could mean by Tuesday night, Bruce Boudreau could be coaching the Central in the All-Star Game if the Wild keeps this up.
Next closest in the Central and West is Chicago (.646).
Down 2-1 in the third period thanks to Eric Staal’s power-play goal with 61 seconds left in the second to give Minnesota life in a game it was being outshot 23-10 in, Zach Parise, who looked like the Parise of old, tied the score 2:08 into the third.
But, starting at the 3:49 mark, Joel Ward and Patrick Marleau scored 32 seconds apart to put the Wild in a 4-2 hole.
But Staal slammed home Parise’s rebound 45 seconds later to make it 3-2.
A little more than three minutes later, Mikko Koivu scored the tying goal and then winning goal 1:55 apart to stunningly give Minnesota a 5-4 lead.
So, the Wild and Devan Dubnyk, who has been leaky lately, didn’t tighten up the way Boudreau had hoped. It’s the fourth time in five games the Wild has allowed four goals, and third in a row by Dubnyk.
But, Boudreau quipped, “I still don’t like the four, but I like the ‘W’ that goes into our column.”
Staal scored two goals and an assist. Parise one goal and two assists and he responded bigtime to a long sitdown Tuesday with Boudreau. I wrote about this in my game notebook, but Boudreau told him he was pressing and he needed to get to the net and start playing like Zach Parise.
Parise said he listened to the coach and did just that. I’ll write more about that in Saturday’s paper, too, but please read Friday’s notebook to know what I’m talking about.
“We just chatted,” Boudreau said. “But he was good, one of the few guys that we had good right from the beginning. He was hounding pucks, was all over it. Scored his goal by getting on a rebound, got a couple assists. That was Zach Parise.”
Boudreau couldn’t believe the Wild was only down one heading into the third, so he conveyed to his team if it just played a quality third, it could win.
The turning point, Staal felt, was when Boudreau popped Nino Niederreiter up to the Parise-Staal line to start the third.
“We were tenacious. Took us a bit to get going,” Staal said. “But I think we shifted to Nino there, we were pretty aggressive and on top of them a lot. Couple Grade A’s.”
Boudreau said, “Their line generated a lot of stuff. Now it gives me more decisions for the next game.”
Meaning, does he start Niederreiter on the line at right wing vs. the Kings.
Solid game by the Jason Zucker-Koivu-Mikael Granlund line. Granlund assisted on both of Koivu’s goals. Zucker had two assists, but the winning goal, the second assist is supposed to change by the morning to Ryan Suter.
Granlund’s pass on the winning goal by Koivu on a blistering one-timer was ridiculous.
Granlund leads the Wild with nine multi-point games and has five two-point games in the past six.
“He’s pretty special with the puck,” Boudreau said. “He always seems to be able to make that play. The only time I get mad at him is when he’s too cute and tries to make that play and it doesn’t work. But it works more often than it doesn’t.”
Boudreau was real happy for the Koivu line because he felt they were the only line going the first two periods and they were minus-2. So he felt it was redemption when they teamed up for the tying and winning goals.
Insane game by Koivu in his 800th game. The all-time leading scorer for the Wild attempted eight shots and won 9 of 15 draws.
“Our leadership and our best players were our best players,” Boudreau said. “That’s nice to see when they take it upon themselves and say damn if we’re going to lose. They took it to them in the third.”
Dubnyk gave up a couple tough goals again, although Boudreau wasn’t about to go at him because the Wild won. But he is showing some cracks lately and will get the Kings game off for Darcy Kuemper. That was planned though. Dubnyk will start in Anaheim, Boudreau indicated.
Couple good quotes:
Staal: “Tough to remember so many goals in the third period how it all went, but bottom line we ended up with the one extra at the end of the night. Solid effort. Mikk’s line was real good the whole night.”
Koivu on the crazy third: “It’s fun at the end when you come out on top. I thought Staalzy’s line got the momentum for us there. They got it back with two quick ones. Staalzy again got us back in the game.”
Koivu on his line not scoring despite some great chances in the first two periods: “I thought we had a lot of good looks. As long as you keep creating, you can’t really be [ticked] off. If you’re missing chances, it’s frustrating. But at the end, you’re still creating and usually sooner than later it’s going to go in. You just have to try to stay with it. Thought we did and got rewarded at the end.”
Parise felt the goal by the Staal gave the team life in a game it knew it wasn’t playing well in.
Parise: “I feel like every time we stepped on the ice, the score was different. … But you know what? Made the game fun. It was a lot of fun to play.”
That’s it for me. Talk to you after practice in L.A., which is mid-afternoon Central Time, so late blog.
Good win. On to LA.