Apparently the Wild learned something either from Todd Richards' rant or from watching tape of the 5-2 loss to the Canucks. Either way, they came out gangbusters in the first period tonight against the Dallas Stars. Cal Clutterbuck started the scoring by turning the tables on the Stars and instead of giving up the shorty, the Wild got one of their own. Later in the period, Mikko Koivu got back on the scoresheet with a nice goal on Marek Zidlicky's 8th assist of the season. It seems like an eternity since the Wild held a first period lead, but when you outshoot a team 17-4 in a period, chances are pretty good you'll have the lead at the end.
The second period, however, had things a bit tense around the X. Dallas took advantage of a Mikko Koivu hooking penalty and Loui Eriksson scored on a deflection off Nick Schultz, then with Brent Burns in the box for interference (his third minor on the night) Mike Ribeiro and Brad Richards made a beautiful play to set up Eriksson for his second power play goal of the period. With the game tied at 2, the crowd got behind the Wild and at 18:12 of the second period, Zidlicky broke his scoreless streak wristing home a pass from Kyle Brodziak off Niklas Grossman for the eventual game winner. It was nice to see the Wild get a good break after the tough one earlier.
The Wild would go on to apply more pressure in the third, outshooting the Stars 11-7, but neither team would be able to score in the final frame.
All-in-all, this was the best 60 minutes of the season, marred only by the two power-play goals, and one of those was a fluky bounce off Schultz. It was nice to see the Wild outshoot the Stars tonight 37-21
Please read the game recap over at Defending Big D
Hockey Wilderness Three
Questions to Answer
- The trend of backups playing against the Wild seems to have begun, with Alex Auld getting the start over Marty Turco. Can the Wild take advantage of this? The Wild certainly applied pressure on Auld, getting to him early and ripping shots from all over the ice.
- Will Michael Russo's ripping of Brent Burns have a positive effect on Burns' performance? Well, he had 8 PIM, so he was clearly irritated with someone.
- Can Kyle Brodziak continue his solid play of the past few games? Brodziak had a nice game and added another assist.
- Will Owen Nolan break out and start scoring down low again? Afraid not. I'm starting to wonder if he's showing his age.
- With leading scorer James Neal out injured, can the Wild keep the Stars offense in check? Aside from Loui Eriksson on the power play, the Wild did a great job defensively tonight.