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Minnesotans (or adopted Minnesotans) Lead Wild to 6-3 Win over Hurricanes

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Wild have successfully started a second winning streak after having their six game streak snapped three games ago against the Winnipeg Jets. Saturday night, it was a group of former Golden Gophers or Minnesota-bred players that led the Wild to victory on Valentine's Day.

Minnesota had a very successful first period. The Wild scored on its first shot on goal. Justin Fontaine, a University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldog. found Mikael Granlund, who found Thomas Vanek, a Gopher, for the slam dunk goal. Granlund's pass set up Vanek with the entire 4 ft x 6 ft goal frame to shoot at. Vanek would do it a second time, again on a play started by Fontaine 7:02 later. Fontaine spun around the Hurricanes goal and found Vanek on the weak side, who then found the space between Anton Khudobin's skate and the right post. Jordan Schroeder, another former Gopher, found the back of the net after streaking down the right side and getting off a hard wrist shot the beat Khudobin blocker side.

All was hunkey-dory in St. Paul until Andrej Nestrasil got one back for Carolina inside the final minute of the first period. Devan Dubnyk made the initial save on a shot by Jay McClement, but the rebound went right to Nestrasil's stick. That goal really changed the complexion of the second period.

Nate Prosser, of Elk River, Minnesota, got his second goal of the season on a centering pass that deflected off Minnesota native, Justin Faulk.

The Wild really let off the gas for the rest of the period as if they thought Carolina would roll over and give up with 38 minutes left to play in the game. Jeff Skinner got one back just under three minutes after the Prosser goal. Then a minute and a half later, Elias Lindholm would tip a Faulk shot past Dubnyk to cut the lead to one. Carolina out-shot the Wild 13-5 in the second period.

Minnesota re-grouped for the third period and came out with more pressure on the 'Canes. Erik Haula, a Gopher by way of Finland, scored the insurance marker for the Wild after the puck went off his skate and up and over Khudobin. The Wild were able to kill all three short-handed tries, including an elongated four-minute double-minor by Nino Niederreiter. The penalty kill has been superb since the trade for Dubnyk. The Hurricanes pulled the goalie with just under three minutes remaining. Zach Parise, born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, cinched the win with an empty-net goal.

Minnesota won 6-3.

One thing that continues to boggle the minds of fans came up Saturday. It was a play in which Mikko Koivu was cross checked in the shoulders near the boards in the offensive zone by Andrej Sekera. The Wild continued to pressure for the next 30 seconds on the delayed penalty, but when the whistle finally blew after Khudobin froze the puck, referee Dan O'Halloran decided to call Sekera for cross checking and Koivu for embellishment. How does it make sense for a referee to call both of those? Sure, a penalty can be committed that solicits a reaction by the other player that could be embellished, but call one or the other - not both. The other problem; how is the delayed penalty allowed to go for so long after Koivu's "embellishment?" The play should be whistled dead immediately if there indeed was a penalty on Koivu. What would have happened if the Wild scored on the delayed penalty? Would the goal not count? Very interesting series of events.

Ryan Suter saw 27:26 time on ice and led all skaters. Vanek had three points as he added an assist on Prosser's goal. Jared Spurgeon, Fontaine, and Granlund all had two assists each.

Minnesota heads back on the road to Vancouver for Monday's match-up. the Wild have beaten the Canucks the last two meetings, once at Rogers Center and the other just last Monday at Xcel Energy Center.