It appears that Hockey Wilderness wasn't the only group in Minnesota that decided to break from tradition tonight. The Wild, who couldn't score a first period goal to save their lives, managed to score less than 5 minutes into the game tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Speaking of Erik Haula, he looked fantastic again tonight. He was quick on the ice all night, made spectacular passes to try and set up goals, and even took a couple shifts on the PK units. Haula is looking great in his first stint as a fill in for the Wild. It will be great to see what he looks like after spending some more time in Iowa, as he can strengthen his skills there.
The Wild held even with the Blackhawks tonight in the first, and then even dominated the second. It took almost 9 minutes before the Blackhawks registered their first shot on net for the second period. Zach Parise scored a PPG with 4 minutes left in the second, with assists going to Jason Pominville and Dany Heatley.
The Hawks did manage to pull it together at the end of the second however, and netted a goal with just 7 seconds left in period. Jeremy Morin was awarded his first NHL goal of the season, with Joakim Nordstrom and Patrick Kane notching the assists.
The Blackhawks kept that momentum going to start the 3rd, where they scored in just 43 seconds. Brandon Saad managed to knock Ryan Suter off balance, steal the puck, and slide the puck right past Minnesota goaltender Josh Harding to tie the game.
Then the wheels started to fall off. The Wild seemed to fall back on their old habits, leaving guys open, dumping the puck, and not control entries into the zone. Nino Niederrieter was called on a pretty bogus holding call, and Marian Hossa managed to turn that into a third goal for the Hawks.
Ryan Suter started to really feel the pressure. As a guy who is normally very even tempered, and the first one to chat with teammates and offer encouraging words, he completely separated himself from his teammates during breaks in play during the third. He would stand away from the bench and away from his teammates on the ice, while repeatedly tapping his stick on the ice.
But then something amazing happened. The Wild got their crap together, and got back on the board. First, Jonas Brodin scored to tie the game on a PPG. Then, Marco Scandella score the go ahead goal with just a few minutes left on the clock.
That's right, your Minnesota Wild beat the defending Stanley Cup Champions. In regulation. Scoring 4 goals. After the game, Coach Mike Yeo said this was the best 57 minutes of hockey the team has played. Hopefully between this win and the shutout against the Flyers Monday, the team can take this momentum and use it. The next few weeks of games are going to be pretty rough for them.
1.) Do the Wild carry over their momentum from last game? Oh do they. With the exception of the 7 minutes where the Blackhawks scored 3 goals, this game was fantastic for the Wild
2.) Can the team take advantage of the injury-bugged Blackhawks? They almost didn't, but managed to get the job done.
3.) These teams seem to have a large amount of respect for each other. Who leaves that in the dust and takes over the game so their team can win? There were a few tussels here and there. Honestly, this win was a complete team effort from top to bottom
4.) Erik Haula is sticking it out in the NHL for now. How does he look centering a line with limited minutes, but talented wingers? Another fantastic game for Haula, and another point for him
5.) Do the Wild show they can play with the best in the league tonight? They definitely did.