Grasping at straws the Wild coaching staff was in their attempt to put the finger in the levee. The Wild, 1-5-2, and losers of its last three games, was reeling as some tension came to a-front in the media Monday. None to pleased with the tone of Monday's practice and the changing of some defensive pairs, both Ryan Suter and Zach Parise made some comments that alluded to some consternation within the locker room.
Solve for Granlund
You were propped up high upon a pedestal, you were supposed to be this amazing new toy for the Wild fanbase to enjoy forever and ever. Increasingly though, I'm finding harder and harder to get behind you.
Hopefully, with solid 2-1 team victory for the Wild in Chicago can go a long way to dissipating that tension. Minnesota jumped out to the early lead when suddenly hot Jason Pominville scored his second goal in as many games. His second goal of the season when Mikael Granlund couldn't get all of a rebound from a Jared Spurgeon shot. Pominville then came around the net and tucked it home. Minnesota had a 14-8 shot advantage and controlled play to the tune of 27-17 in shot attempts. It was a good road period and overall response to the head coach's challenge. Devan Dubnyk looked solid throughout the period.
However, in the second period during a Blackhawk's power play, the Hawk's American-born player from Buffalo, New York with a sizable point streak, found himself in front of Dubnyk alone. The play was set up as Duncan Keith lifted Mikko Koivu's stick on a clearing attempt near the blue line as players started to vacate the Wild end. Keith then passed to wide open Blackhawks player. He partially fanned on the shot, but the puck went in five-hole on Dubnyk. It was clear Dubnyk was fooled on the shot like a batter getting fooled by a change-up. The power play goal extended the point streak to 20 games.
Minnesota, which did get a decent lead in the puck possession department, started to fall back into some bad habits. Zach Parise was asked by NBCSN's Pierre McGuire about what he thought was contributing to the Wild skid, "I think it's our breakouts. It really keeps us from playing in the offensive zone when you can't get out of your own end." The Wild did have a couple shifts where it was on its heels because of bad zone exits. But the Wild would soon get the benefit of three straight power plays to get offensive zone time. Minnesota was unable to score on those chances, mainly because the Chicago PK is really good, and partially because the Wild are predictable and stagnant.
The Wild came out of the locker room looking to not let the game slip away. After a Suter hooking penalty, in which the Wild killed off, Minnesota went back to work. Granlund had deked Corey Crawford into a split along the goal line. The rebound came right back out for a crashing Suter to clean up the trash for the 2-1 lead. The final 7:56 was strenuous as the Blackhawks were pressuring. Dubnyk was strong in net nad made some really great saves. He even got help from Jonas Brodin, whose backside is getting all kinds of gratitude, when an Artemi Panarin shot was deflected wide off of Brodin.
It was the first game in over a week in which the Wild returned to its identity by playing a solid defensive game, and was patient in its own process to get the win.
Yeo sent out the second power play unit a bit more in this game as it seemed to get shots through to the net better than the first unit. Erik Haula had a strong game. Parise struggled with handling the puck, which could be due to some lingering effects of his knee injury. Pominville had his second goal of the season and had six shots on goal alone. He was very good. Brodin, reunited with Suter had maybe his strongest game in awhile. All-in-all, the Wild had a very good game and was a solid victory to build on.