Minnesota Wild 3-2 New York Islanders
Ahh, when in doubt, put your faith in Owen Nolan.
"He showed great composure on the game-winning goal," said Head Coach, Todd Richards. "A lot of guys get in that situation and rush it a little bit. Great composure."
Umm, could that be because he has scored 412 NHL goals? Maybe because he's 37 and has 19 years of NHL experience? No. I think it's because he embodies everything a professional hockey player should be. He's tough, has great hands, sees the ice, knows where the play is going to be, shows heart, emotion and plays with grit. Oh, and he's simply awesome.
This was a big win. The Wild were without six regulars and three guys who were in Houston a week ago.
In a game with so many young guys in the lineup, it was nice to see the veterans play such a big role. Nolan scored twice, Mikko Koivu got a power play goal (which is nice to see, considering how anemic the man advantage has been), Andrew Brunette got an assist, Marek Zidlicky factored in the scoring and looked solid defensively, even Shane Hnidy played a tough game, amassing 19 PIM (though his instigator call was a complete joke).
You could tell that the crowd was poised to erupt all night. They were ready to either boo the Wild off the ice, or jump out of their seats at any moment in jubilation. Sure, part of it could have been because of Josh Sacco's rendition of Herb Brooks' pregame speech from the Miracle on Ice, but no matter the reason, it was nice to see an energetic crowd at the X.
Tonight wasn't a brilliantly played game by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a hard-fought victory, and it was great to see the Wild come from behind, play for 60 minutes and get off the ice with the two points.
Now, get healthy and we'll see you on the 25th.
Please read the game recap over at Lighthouse Hockey
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
- Owen Nolan (2 G)
- Eric Belanger (2 A)
- Mikko Koivu (1 G)
Questions to Answer
- How much better will the Wild be with no Martin Havlat? Well, to be honest, they were better defensively without Havlat.
- Will we see the future of the NHL in John Tavares? Tavares only had two shots on goal, but looked awfully good out there. He's going to be a very good player. Tough on the puck, fights to get position and works on every shift. He and Kyle Okposo make a fearsome duo.
Richard Park is still in the NHL? Seriously? Wow. Park was a -1, but didn't look to have lost a step. He's still awfully quick.
- Will the aggression from yesterday's practice show tonight? The guys were playing with a bit of a mean streak tonight. It's nice to see, frankly.
- If they come out flat, should we start to wonder whose job it is to motivate professional athletes? They didn't come out flat, but let's see if they can continue to build. It's not hard to show more effort than they did against Phoenix.