The Wild continued to show their offensive potential with a second game in a row clicking in transition and creating quick-striking offense at will. The only tense moments of the game were in the first period with a treacherous start and featured a penalty shot, the Wild's first shootout or penalty shot against this season. But ultimately, strong games around the lineup allowed the Wild to take charge and assert their game and come away with the win. The base is now there for the Wild to start a trend with their offense if they can keep the momentum going.
The Wild got off to a sleepy start, as the Rangers turned an opening faceoff win into some nice possession time, and the Wild looked out of sorts trying to move out of their end. Through the first two or three cycles of the puck, the Wild made lazy passes to the wrong area and weren't able to establish a presence in the neutral zone. At one point, Ryan Suter turned it over right in front of a first-game-back-from-injury Devan Dubnyk, which turned into sustained pressure for the Rangers' top line. The worst came as the poor structure for the Wild forced Marco Scandella to hook Keith Yandle on a breakaway, but Dubnyk held firm on the ensuing penalty shot and set the tone for him to have a strong night in his return to action. But right after that, the Granlund line took the puck up the ice into the Rangers zone and the Wild got set up for the first time. From there, the Wild absolutely stuffed the neutral zone, and got to work on the Rangers. The newly formed connection of Thomas Vanek to Mikko Koivu made the Rangers pay with a sweet pass from the trapezoid to a net-crashing Koivu, who roofed the puck over Antti Raanta's right shoulder to put the Wild on the board first. A couple of cycles later. Marco Scandella earned himself a wide-open shot from the point and wound up to send all of his might into the shot. The shot was so mighty that Raanta did not catch up with it until it hit him in the forehead, and he immediately went down to the ice. He was able to leave the ice with limited assistance from a trainer. Henrik Lundqvist entered the game in relief. The Rangers pushed back lightly, but the period ended 1-0 Wild.
The second period was a much more up-and-down affair as the Rangers found their way through the neutral zone starting in the second period. The Wild, likely hungry after scoring 6 goals in their previous game, were cheating and taking some chances. The Wild were able to overcome that and apply pressure thanks to the strong play of their defensive core. Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella all had strong nights on both sides of the puck. Duby was tested more, and one shot trickled over his pads heading towards the goal, but was calmly swept away by Brodin. Jarret Stoll took a hooking penalty and the Wild PK, not featuring its newest member, not only killed the penalty, but also earned a couple of breakaways and short-handed chances. The Wild's special teams also delivered with the man advantage. The new-look 2nd unit featuring Mikael Granlund has gotten immediately better with his recent addition. Granlund masters the thing that stymied the second unit thus far in the season, entering the zone and getting the play set up. Tonight that turned into a goal as Granlund carried the puck in the zone, then took his time with the puck, ultimately getting it down low to a waiting Nino Niederreiter who snapped a shot that Lundquist stopped, but Matt Dumba came crashing in from the other side and batted the rebound out of the air and into the back of the net. The Wild got a little lazy in the waning seconds of the period and paid the price as Dominic Moore was able to beat Dubnyk with 8.9 seconds remaining after some loose time in the Minnesota zone, closing the second 2-1 Wild.
The third period was full of fireworks with 4 goals being scored. The Wild opened, having rediscovered their defensive posture, but had to weather the storm a bit as the Rangers pushed. But that push lead to holes in their defense, and the Wild continued to create offense through their transition game. They hit several posts, and both the Koivu and Granlund lines buzzed throughout. It paid off when Ryan Carter drew his second penalty of the game, putting the Wild on the power play. Mikko Koivu found a descending Jason Pominville coming in and Pominville put the wild up 3-1. Just moments later, the 4th line churned a cycle into a Chris Porter backhanded goal off Henrik Lundqvist's arm. #OneOfUs Ryan McDonagh found the back of the net on a rush, but the Wild answered right back as Mikko Koivu picked up a Ryan Carter rebound to finish the scoring at 5-2.
So many players had good games, but most notably the defense was very active in the offense and activated while not sacrificing many chances. Mikko Koivu had 3 points one game after a 4 game breakout while finding some magic with Thomas Vanek. The PP has now scored 5 goals in 2 games. The PK was flawless tonight, and Duby didn't look a bit rusty from his time off. This was a confident team playing a confident game, and it bodes well for the future play of the Wild.