The Wild were in Winnipeg for a matinee afternoon game one week after Mikko Koivu single-handedly beat the Jets in St. Paul. After a quirky start and only managing 4 shots on goal in the first period, the Wild rallied behind goals from Nino Niederreiter and Zach Parise to win on Charlie Coyle’s shootout clincher.
The pre-game could hardly have gone worse for the Wild. Granlund was missing from the warm-ups and was a late scratch, so Nate Prosser dressed as a 7th defenceman. Then, to make matters worse, Josh Harding picked-up a knock before puck-drop and Niklas Backstrom, coming off a concussion, had to play. Darcy Kuemper, who was about to board a flight to Iowa, raced back to the arena to suit-up as the back-up goalie.
All this confusion seemed to translate to the team's play as the Jets dominated the opening period. The Wild couldn't establish any zone time or meaningful chances, recording very few shots or face-off wins. The Jets dominated the shot attempts and Backstrom made some nice saves to keep the score tied.
The 2nd period was more of the same, though the Wild seemed to be coming out of their slumber. The Jets took the lead 13 minutes into the 2nd when Matt Cooke turned the puck over to Michael Frolik in the neutral zone, and a bad pinch by Clayton Stoner gave Matt Halischuk a clear lane to the net. His shot was saved by Backstrom, but the rebound dropped into the crease and a scramble involving Frolik, Scheifele, Prosser and Heatley resulted in Frolik tapping the puck into the net.
The Wild came out for the 3rd period looking like a different team. They got back to their puck-possession game and started creating some chances and causing some pressure in the Jets zone. Nino Niederreiter spent the first two periods seemingly being in the doghouse with minimal ice time, but was moved-up to the top line for the 3rd period, and it paid dividends. He scored the Wild's equaliser when Parise made a nice zone entry before dropping the puck back for Marco Scandella who then had his shot saved by Pavelec before the rebound was poked in by Niederreiter.
The Wild's joy was short-lived as the Jets scored again 2 minutes later after Spurgeon and Scheifele went crashing into the boards, Frolik retrieved the puck and passed it to a wide-open Matt Halischuk between Dumba and Cooke who were both caught puck-watching and not paying attention what was going on around them. Halischuk finished past Backstrom to restore the Jets lead.
The Wild were, understandably, on-edge any time the Jets got too close to Backstrom, and this spilled over in the 3rd when Evander Kane took one too many stabs at the puck while Backstrom had it covered. Ryan Suter grabbed him from behind and Kane took offence, throwing off his gloves and swinging at Suter before Suter threw him against the boards and a scrum ensued. Wild fans felt somewhat aggrieved that a penalty wasn't given against Kane.
A spell of domination from the Wild ended with an odd-man rush for the Jets after a Dany Heatley turnover. Scandella got called for a marginal hook on Andrew Ladd as he raced in on Backstrom and the Jets went on the powerplay. The Wild neded something special to happen, and it did, when the Jets turned the puck over at the Wild's blue-line and got caught 3 against 2 as Suter carried the puck into the zone and dropped it to Koivu, who then put a perfect pass onto Parise stick for the finish.
The rest of the 3rd period and OT produced some end-to-end hockey, but no goals, and thus a shoot-out was required to find a winner. Backstrom, saved the first two Jets' efforts, with Koivu scoring for the Wild. After Pominville was stopped by Pavalec, Backstrom stopped Setoguchi, before Charlie Coyle scored the winner.
Backstrom was the star of the show, with 36 saves from 38 ES shots on goal and 3 shootout saves. Pretty damn impressive for a guy coming back from a concussion.
Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederrieter played extremely well tonight. Jason Zucker had a solid game. I felt like he was a bit of a liabiltiy defensively against the Senators, but he was much better tonight.
Suter was very dominant at both ends of the ice, and Marco Scandella was excellent in the 2nd and 3rd, making some important defensive plays and generating a lot of shots, including one that led to an assist.
1) Does Mikko Koivu continue his goal-scoring form?
2) Can we get through an entire game against the Jets without any "Byfuglien is fat" jokes?
3) Any "Haaaaaaaarding" chants from the Winnipeg faithful?
Well, he didn't play, so I hope not....
4) How does Jason Zucker play?
Much better. He looked good.
5) Does Devin Setoguchi get any revenge on his old team?
Nope. Missed a shoot-out attempt to boot.