Worst start to this season, great response in the second, held on in the third.
That’s pretty much the story of the Wild’s 3-2 win tonight over Columbus as the Wild avoided dropping a third consecutive game to a winless team.
The Jackets fell to 0-8, the worst start since the 1943-44 Rangers. John Tortorella liked the effort of his new team, but “moral victories aren’t going to help us right now.”
For a day-and-a-half, the Wild heard how desperate and motivated the Blue Jackets would be. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter said it was the entire pregame and pregame skate talk this morning and that maybe the team psyched itself out in the first period.
Suter said you almost go into the game looking to weather the storm by a motivated opponent rather than dictating on home ice. And that is exactly what it looked like to me.
The Wild was sleepy, couldn’t make passes, was terrible in its own zone, didn’t play with speed and it led to no offensive-zone sustained pressure.
But in the second, with the Wild trailing 2-1 after the Jackets struck twice after Zach Parise’s league-leading sixth goal, the Wild found its legs and rallied on goals by Nino Niederreiter and Thomas Vanek’s eventual winner. It was the third goal on the season for each of them, and Vanek’s was a beauty. Back to the net, three or four feet to the right of Sergei Bobrovsky, he sliced Jason Zucker’s slap pass at a perfect degree inside the post.
From there, Devan Dubnyk was solid for a 27-save victory. It was the second time in five starts (4-1) he allowed fewer than three goals.
He knows he’s off to a tough start this year and said he’s in a mindset now where he’s taking each game individually to build his game. He admitted it was frustrating to come out of the first period down 2-1 after Parise gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead early after a great Ryan Suter takeaway, pinch and setup.
The tying goal was a tough one. He sent a rebound right and couldn’t get over fully to stop Alexander Wennberg’s goal.
“I didn’t get a good rotation, I blew my edge twice on the push,” said Dubnyk. He didn’t want to say he was panicky to get over, but “a little tense. When you’re a little tight, you [don’t] relax a little bit and realize you have a second to get over. When you’re tense, you try two real hard pushes before you really get your body in a position to make those pushes, and I blow my edge twice.”
He said he’ll sharpen that up.
Coach Mike Yeo said, “The urgency level wasn’t quite where we needed it to be in the first, but we absolutely found it in the second.”
On the fact the Wild continues to have trouble playing a complete, 60-minute game, Yeo said, “We need the game reps. It’s real hard to improve. We’ve had tons of practice, we had training camp. You get to a certain level and you can’t get to another level until you start playing games. We’re going to hit a whole bunch of them in the next little while.”
He said it was the same thing for the Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville line. Granlund has one goal, Pominville has none. He thinks they’ll get into a rhythm now by playing every other day or so.
Great sign to see Suter and Jared Spurgeon (two assists) play so well tonight. They were fabulous defensively. Suter just continues to play well. Suter said he likes playing with a right-shot because it gives him better looks offensively. He is tied for second among NHL defensemen with six assists.
Yeo also felt Matt Dumba took a step tonight. He took him off the power play tonight because 1) the second unit hadn’t scored before tonight even though the Wild ranks fourth in the NHL on the power play; 2) mostly he wants Dumba to just focus on playing solid and finding his game.
That’s it for moi. Talk to you after Friday’s practice.