It was a homecoming of many sorts as the New York Islanders welcomed Matt Moulson, Nino Niederreiter, Jared Spurgeon and the rest of the reeling Wild to Nassau Coliseum. Minnesota, coming off a tough loss to the Boston Bruins the night before, was looking to solve their scoring woes. Head Coach Mike Yeo did some line shuffling prior to tonight's game. Yeo kept the top line of Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - jason Pominville and inserted Justin Fontaine on to the second line with Mikko Koivu and Moulson. Coyle was moved to the 3rd line pivot with Nino Niederreiter and Heatley on his wings, while Kyle Brodziak was shifted down to the fourth line with Cooke and McCormick. Most controversial was that Erik Haula was a healthy scratch after ultimately being one of the best forwards in the last six games for the Wild.
The first period was slow to go as both teams looked sluggish from the opening faceoff. Both the Wild and Islanders shared power play opportunities but could not capitalize on them. Matt Moulson would open the scoring as he'd pick up the scraps after Fontaine went hard to the net. He got a resounding cheer from the Islander fans as his goal was announced over the PA system. Later, another former Islander prospect, Jared Spurgeon, would find the upper corner over Islander netminder Nilsson's glove to give the Wild a 2-0 lead after being out-shot 16-6 in the period.
Minnesota, playing with a bit more zip in their step after the intermission, came out and played much better in all three zones. Ilya Bryzgalov fought off many pucks that deflected off of his teammates and Anders Lee. Lee, the former Edina Hornet and Notre Dame Fighting Irish, was a pest in the crease all night in front of Bryzgalov finishing with 8 shots on goal for the night. Granlund would score the lone goal of the second period after one-timing a nice feed from Pominville from behind the net. Minnesota held a 3-0 lead in to the 3rd period.
The wheels seemingly fell off for the Islanders in the third as the Wild put up three more goals. One of the most unlikely of all goals was a breakaway goal from none other than Clayton Stoner, who received a pass from Koivu as he exited the penalty box. Justin Fontaine would add another one as he sniped a shot just under the crossbar that went in and came out so fast that it had to be reviewed. Ultimately, he was awarded the goal and the Wild took a 5-0 lead. Moulson would score his second of the night on a late third period power play. The Nassau Coliseum crowd would then chant, "WE WANT MOUSLON!" as time ran out and gave him a resounding applause as he was announced the game's 1st Star. Ilya Bryzgalov would notch his 32nd career shutout and first win as a member of the Wild.
Mikko Koivu with three assists tonight now takes sole possession of first place all-time for points in Minnesota Wild franchise history with 438 career points.
Mike Yeo Post-Game Press Conference
On the Line Juggling - "Getting guys into roles...We had lines with really no identity, so we had to sort that out a little bit and, obviously, get a little more balance through the line- up. Tonight was a good example of what that can do."
On Justin Fontaine - "He showed a lot. That's for sure! I was real impressed and I like a right shot on that line too."
On Moulson - "This is a guy that's obviously very, very well respected here. You see what the crowd's doing in a game like that and I thought that was very classy of their crowd. It reflects on what kind of a person this is and what he's meant to this organization."
On Stoner's goal - "We were concerned at first that after he scored he might have killed himself. I think we might have been making the wrong reads on who should be taking the shootout and playing the power play."