So far this season, the Wild have had a few games where they've outplayed their opponent in almost every way but have still managed to lose. Saturday's contest against Dallas may have been the first time where the opposite happened. The Stars had the better of the play throughout most of the game yet couldn't get past Darcy Kuemper.
The Wild were opportunistic taking advantage of Dallas mistakes and got a good win in a tough building for them. They are now 4-0 against the Central Division. Hopefully that increases tonight against Winnipeg.
Dallas dominated play through most of two periods. However after Erik Haula's tying goal, the Wild put some good pressure on Kari Lehtonen, eventually taking the lead.
The shot attempt chart from War-On-Ice.com shows some ugly stretches in the game when the Wild were held without a shot for more than five minutes. They nearly closed the gap in the third, but sat back a bit to protect the lead.
The Wild were a top heavy team throughout the game. The top two lines drove the offensive play while Dallas took advantage of the bottom six. The Top Gun/Danger Zone/2010 First Rounders line had their second consecutive great game. They worked hard in the offensive zone and played sound defense during crucial shifts in the third. Maybe most impressive is how the entire line put up 60%+ Corsi percentages despite getting some of the worst zone starts. Charlie Coyle led the team in Corsi For despite taking eight defensive zone faceoffs to only one in the offensive zone. Let's hope Yeo can keep this line together when Zach Parise gets back.
Mikko Koivu's line with Jason Zucker and Jason Pominville also had a decent game. Parise would most likely slot in and take Zucker's spot on this line. It's almost too bad because Zucker has arguably been the line's best player.
As for the rest of the forwards, it wasn't as pretty. Thomas Vanek at least put two shots on goal, but he, Justin Fontaine and Kyle Brodziak had a tough day defensively. Dallas pretty much set up in the offensive zone every shift. Erik Haula's line with Ryan Carter and Stu Bickel was a little better, but not much.
The good news for the blue line is that Matt Dumba had his second consecutive solid game. He led all defensemen in Corsi % and looked more confident carrying the puck. Sure, he lost his man on the Roussel goal, but his overall game looks better. Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon had to put in a lot of work to make up for the Wild's weak third pairing. Both were solid and broke up more than a few of Dallas' better chances.
The third pairing really is a problem for this team. Justin Falk only played 7:11 and looked shaky every shift. A bottom three of Falk, Prosser and Ballard can't be expected to hold off good teams consistently and the Wild were lucky Dallas wasn't able to burn them more than they did.
Wild Three Stars of the Game
1. Darcy Kuemper- A great bounce back game for him, stopping 27 shots and keeping the Wild in the game.
2. Mikael Granlund- Led the offensive charge and scored the game winning goal.
3. Charlie Coyle- Four shots on goal and an assist.