Mr. Russo always gives me the exciting games to cover.
Saturday in Dallas, for the first time in franchise history, the Wild surrendered a four-goal lead but won the game.As a result the Wild went to Chicago for Sunday's game as the Western Conference's best team.
And what a strange game. The Wild scored on its first three shots, had a 4-0 lead at 12:45 of the first period, and yet it was a nail-biter at the end.
That’s because a Dallas goal with 6.5 seconds left in the first period shifted the momentum, the first of four straight goals by the Stars that ultimately tied the game 4-4 on a power play goal with 11:13 left in the game.
But Jason Zucker’s greasy, net-crashing goal 2:02 later was the winner.
First, some quick numbers:
--At the halfway point of the season, the Wild (27-9-5) has 59 points, the same as Chicago, but with four games in hand.
--Since the last game in Dallas Nov. 21, the Wild has points in 22 of 24 games (18-2-4), outscoring opponents 91-58.
--The Wild has an 11-game point streak in road games (9-0-2), one short of the franchise record set in 2015.
--The Wild remains unbeaten in 2017 (4-0-1).
--It was the 10th time this season the Wild has scored at least five goals in a game. The team did it 11 times total last season.
Here are some other notes and quotes from the game:
--It was a very nice night for the Mikko Koivu-Granlund-Zucker line, all of whom were a plus-2. Koivu and Zucker both scored, with Zucker adding an assist. And Granlund had two assists, giving him 24 this season, tied for first on the team. He has 25 points in his last 24 games.
--It was Zucker’s 13th career multi-point game, coming on the cusp of his birthday. He’ll turn 25 Monday.
--Wild coach Bruce Boudreau was happy to win, not so happy with the way the game went, lamenting his team’s lack of poise when the Stars came back hard.
“We knew they’d put a push on, and I was worried when we didn’t score on the 5-on-3,’’ he said of the third period, when the Wild had a great chance after successive penalties on the Stars. “We knew they’d get a power play, and usually they score on it.’’
That said, Boudreau did give his teams points for being resilient.
“The push back after [the tying goal] was good,’’ he said. “And, in the last 5 minutes, we blocked some shots, sacrificed, did what we had to do. But it was one of those games that you could have won 5-1, and we ended up winning 5-4.’’
--More Boudreau: “I’d still like to win by allowing one goal,’’ he said. “And getting a power play goal every day, winning the special teams battle. Listen, I’m glad we’re winning. And working hard, doing a lot of good things. But we’re not perfect. We’ll have to continue working. The hardest part of our schedule is ahead of us. We can’t take anything for granted.’’
--Darcy Kuemper on his up-and-down night: “You never want to let in that many goals. We were up four early, and they got the response, they tied it up. At that point, you just worry about making the saves you need to, and hanging onto the win.’’
Shaky at times, Kuemper was very good after the Wild took the lead for good.
--Here is Eric Staal, who is about to play his first game against Chicago as a member of the Wild: “It’s going to be great. It’s been a lot of fun with this group. We have a good team here, and we’re doing it right. And we’re going to get better as we go.’’
That’s about it for now. Mr. Russo will pick up the team in the Windy City.