The old saying goes, "A win is a win, no matter how you got there." Ok, so that saying may be something I made up mixed with some old coaches speak. Minnesota, off since Sunday evening, traveled to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers in an attempt to extend their three-game winning streak to four. The Flyers were on the second night of a back-to-back, but it was the Wild that came out of the gate sluggish. Maybe it was the extended pregame that featured a Flyer Hall of Fame induction of Eric Lindros and John LeClaire. It was Darcy Kuemper that back-stopped the Wild to a huge 3-2 victory in the City of Brotherly Love.
The first period was ugly as the Flyers came out buzzing, putting up 14 shots to the Wild's 6. Sprinkle in a few gigantic saves and a couple posts and the Wild were lucky to escape the first with a scoreless tie.
Minnesota went over 10 minutes without a shot on goal in the second period. In the little push back the Wild had in the second, Mikael Granlund was able to draw a tripping minor. The Wild power play on the road to this point had been 0-for-32. Not necessarily an advantage for a team needing wins and goals. However, Matt Dumba found a wide-open passing lane to Nino Niederreiter, who is scorching hot, and scored his team-leading 9th goal of the season.
The Wild seemed to gain a lot of momentum after the power play goal and started playing as they should. The Wild got another power play, but couldn't get the puck through Flyers' goaltender Ray Emery. Once Claude Giroux left the box, he picked the pocket of Marco Scandella and headed the other way. After the Wild broke up the ensuing rush, a costly turnover at the blue line turned into a Mark Streit goal. The teams would go back and forth until the end of the period.
To start the third period, Niederreiter was battling along the near wall, to the left of Emery, and was able to corral the puck and send it across the ice to a pinching Scandella who then unleashed all of his anger in to a Howitzer of a shot to regain a Wild lead. It was a great play and an even better shot. The puck was rolling a bit and the puck may have fooled Emery as the puck kept rising.
A storyline broke out in the third period as Mikko Koivu was missing from the ice, but not from the bench for the majority of the period which caused all the Koivu haters to rejoice in a possible benching by the head coach. Post-game head coach Mike Yeo said that Koivu was dealing with an illness.
A weak penalty call late in the third on Nate Prosser for delay of game gave Philadelphia a late power play opportunity. After Jared Spurgeon blocked a hard shot that broke his skate protector, he couldn't get into position to defend Claude Giroux for the game-tying goal. It would appear that the Wild were going to play for overtime until Jason Zucker made a nice play on the forecheck as the announcement of the final minute rang over the public address system.
The puck would eventually move up to the point to Thomas Vanek, who made a pass the Suter sliding down the left side. Suter took a shot, but the puck was blocked and deflected to the end boards. The hard carom came right back out to Suter who found Zucker on the doorstep for the game winner with 46 seconds left on the game clock.
Kuemper was amazing all night long especially early in the game. The rest of the team did have a much better third period and played a much more active and solid period sans the power play goal against. However, the Wild were dominated by the Flyers in the first and the majority of the second periods. It is a trend they will need to quickly nip in the bud as they head to Tampa, Florida to take on the Lightning on Saturday. Game can be seen on Fox Sports North Plus at 6 pm.