It was the first time on Xcel Energy Center ice in two weeks. The good thing is, the Wild really like playing at home. The Wild looked like a team that had played only four times in three weeks - rusty.
Arizona came out hard after the Wild paid tribute to Canada and the heinous events that played out in Ottawa yesterday with a boisterous rendition of 'O Canada' from Anthem Singer James Bohn. Kuemper was tested right from the get-go as the Coyotes quickly put up five shots to start the game. The pace was fast and got a little hairy for the home team that didn't look prepared for the Coyotes' pace.
The two teams skated to a 0-0 tie after one period and the Wild out-shot Arizona 12-9. Minnesota must have taken some smelling salts to wake up because the 2nd line of Vanek - Koivu - Coyle had two decent shifts that ended up with Carlie Coyle tipping a Jared Spurgeon point-shot past Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith.
Speaking of Jared Spurgeon, he had himself a really nice game. He also assisted on Jason Pominville's second goal of the season when he joined the rush to help the Wild out-number the Coyotes at the blue line. It was Spurgeon's 10th multi-point game of his career. Then, after Matt Dumba got turned around as the Coyotes streaked in to the Wild zone, Spurgeon made a fantastic hustle play to negate a scoring chance. The second period was really, "The Jared Spurgeon Show."
Minnesota had three power play opportunities in a row late in the second period but cannot get one past Smith. This is now becoming a trend and they will need to find a way to score when they play a team like the Tampa Bay Lightning, who just so happens to be the opponent Saturday night.
The Coyotes didn't really have any better luck on the power play either as the penalty killing units and Darcy Kuemper locked it down. The PK got back on track and the late kill in the third period was a penalty killing clinic.
Thomas Vanek and Mikko Koivu didn't look good tonight. They struggled to catch and make passes. Even more awkward was Vanek's propensity to receive a pass upon entering the offensive zone and come to a complete stop. it was obvious he was looking to make a passing play, but Vanek very well could have been hindered by taking a slap shot to the back of the knee early in the first period. He didn't seem right all game long.
Mathew Dumba struggled again as he was paired with Nate Prosser. Dumba tended to get caught out on long shifts especially in the second period with the long change. The extended time opened him up to questionable play.
As for the netminder, Darcy Kuemper looked dialed in right from the start. He was out challenging shooters and fighting through bodies in front of him. It didn't hurt that his bug 6'5" frame came in handy at times as well. Along with the three shutouts in four starts, he now has stopped 98 of the 100 shots he has faced. Just incredible.
The Wild finally get to settle into a routine from here on out as the welcome the Lightning on Saturday and will head out east for a quick road trip to the Big Apple to take on the Rangers and Beantown to face the Bruins next week.