As the great David Wooderson from Dazed and Confused would say... "Alright, alright, alright!"
The Wild came into tonight knowing that the Vanvouver Canucks would be pushing hard to avenge last weeks loss to the Wild in Vancouver. The pace, after some early jitters, was fever-pitched. Your Minnesota Wild would roll over the Vancouver Canucks by a 5-3 margin, with goals coming from 5 different players earning the Wild their 6th straight regulation victory. Now undefeated since the All-Star break, the Wild are red-hot and looking to make this push for a playoff spot mean something in a couple months time.
The 1st period would be electric for the Wild as they scored 3 goals in the opening frame, allowing just 1 in return to the Canucks for some very exciting hockey on Xcel Energy Center ice. Jordan Schroeder would open the scoring for the Wild on a Charlie Coyle feed at the 5:05 mark in the first period. Coyle would feed the puck to Schroeder after Matt Dumba stretched a pass to Coyle from the Wild's defensive zone. As Coyle streaked up the middle, he fed the puck to Schroeder who beat Ryan Miller with a nice backhand shot over the waffle pad.
Just a short time later the Wild would find themselves on a power play after a holding call against Alex Burrows. The Wild dominated this stretch of play. They moved the puck well and kept the Canucks on their heals which opened up the ice for a great feed, through traffic from Thomas Vanek to Jason Pominville. The Mayor of Pominville had all day with to work with, and a net as wide open as the Sahara Desert. Mikko Koivu would earn his 1st assist of the night with the 2nd helper on the play.
Zack Kassian would bring the Canucks back within 1 when he got off a nice snap shot which found a home past Devan Dubnyk. The same old song and dance however would not play out for the Wild as they did not let the 1 goal diffuse their momentum.
At the 15:37 mark of the 1st period Nino Niederreiter would rip a snap shot past Miller for his 16th goal of the season. El Nino would have a little back and forth passing attack as Nino worked his way to the weak side where he awaited the Koivu pass which he ripped past Miller to put the Wild back up 2 before the period closed.
Now for the bad news folks. No updates available yet, but Jason Zucker would leave the game early in the 1st period with an apparent shoulder injury. He would not return for the remainder of the game. Also to the infirmary, Ryan Carter would take a heavy hit behind the net early in the 1st. He would also not return to the game. So with 2 injuries tonight look for a little shuffle in the lineup tomorrow night at The Wall.
The fireworks weren't over after the opening 20-minutes, but the Canucks would kick off the scoring in the 2nd period when just 1:11 into the frame Shawn Matthias would get a pass from Radim Vrbata, which was really just pretty folks. Vrbata shuffled a puck through the crease behind Dubnyk and Matthias was waiting for it on the other side with a wide open net.
The Wild wouldn't wait long to answer. After Alexander Edler would get the gate for hooking Charlie Coyle, the Wild would get another PP chance, and Ryan Suter was ready to get his name in the goals column. Suter blasted a shot from the point, which was blocked, but that did not stop him as he quickly retreived the puck, recharged the cannon and fired again. This one would find it's mark. Mikko Koivu would earn his 3rd assist of the game with the additional helper from Zach Parise at the 7:05 mark of the middle period.
Just 54 seconds later, Kyle Brodziak (yes, that Kyle Brodziak) would put his mark on the game with just his 7th goal of the year when he snapped one past Miller. Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin would get the helpers that would chase Ryan Miller from the game.
Enter Eddie Lack
Lack would manage to stop all 2 shots he faced in the 2nd period.
The 3rd period we saw a bit of a push from the Canucks as the Wild spent some of the early period defending some heavy pressure the 'Nucks. The Wild got a few of their own chances, but nothing that resembled the heavy pressure we saw in the earlier stages of the game. The teams would trade chances as the period ticked away, but both Dubnyk and Lack were spry in their games and stopped anything coming their way. The Canucks would get a garbage time goal to put them behind by just 2 goals when Ryan Stanton would snipe one past Dubnyk with the helpers coming from Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin. The Sedin's were otherwise quiet tonight.
Just another dominant game from the Minnesota Wild tonight. It was not without its trouble spots but for a good piece of the 60 minutes, the Wild simply out-worked the Canucks. One play in particular sticks out to me. in the last 10 minutes of the 3 period the Wild pinned the Canucks deep in their end for a good extended period of time. Part of this was made possible by Charlie Coyle coming in on the forecheck and just straight out-working the Canucks defender in the corner. He used his body, took the puck and cycled it back out to an open player.
It's the little things like that. They don't necessarily lead to a goal but when you're getting that kind of effort from enough people out there, your chances of winning games goes through the roof. That's 6 straight now for your Minnesota Wild as they make their annual late season surge towards a playoff spot. They now sit 3 points from a wildcard berth, which will only stick if the Calgary Flames lose in regulation tonight to the San Jose Sharks.