A dominating effort start to finish gives brings the Wild within one point of the third place Chicago Blackhawks. The Wild hosted the Calgary Flames Friday on the first of a back-to-back. Flames goaltender Kari Ramo was absolutely scintillating through 40 minutes, but a Thomas Vanek go-ahead goal cracked that egg like the old, "This is your brain on drugs," commercial.
Josh Jooris (that's a real name) got the scoring going for Calgary in the first period. The Wild had all five guys taking everybody, but taking no body as Jooris was able to roof the puck over Devan Dubnyk's right shoulder. The period was dominated in shots by the Wild getting out to a 13-6 lead in that category. The line of Nino Niederreiter, Mikko Koivu, and Chris Stewart gave the Flames fits all night. Calgary had a lot of trouble doing something, if anything against that line. Matt Dumba, whose demotion to the second power play unit earlier in the week drew the ire of Wild fans, got one back for Minnesota. His wrist shot crawled up and over the right arm of Ramo, dropped down in the crease and Dumba, who was following up his shot, nudged it the rest of the way into the goal.
The two teams skated to a scoreless period in the second, but the Wild did not relent on the pressure. The Wild had a 15-9 shot advantage in the period. Ramo made some spectacular saves to keep the game tied. Stewart had a chance in the slot with Ramo down, but Ramo was able to deflect the puck away with the very tip of his catching glove. The Wild had a number of flurries of shots and action in the second, but Ramo was just equal to the task. he blocked one shot while lying on the ice.
At the other end, Dubnyk was as solid as he's been since he's arrived in Minnesota. He smothered the puck when he need to and his rebound control was fantastic. The team defense was fantastic as well. All night long the Wild were able to get their sticks on the puck to break up passes and the Flames rush all night long. That defense lead to a lot of the goals in the third period.
Joe Colborne caught Justin Fontaine with a blind side hit up high that left him shaken. the puck was in the feet of Fontaine and he was looking behind him right as Colborne lit him up. Fontaine went straight off the ice, but would return later for his next shift. And did he return. Fontine got a shallow angle shot the handcuffed Ramo, but Vanek was right there on the back side to put in the rebound. When you're hot, you're hot, and Thomas Vanek is getting hot at the right time. Fontaine just continues to produce. Coming into Friday's game, Fontaine has been having a superb season for someone in his role.
Unreal season for Justin Fontaine. Leads the team in 5v5 P/60 + only 8 5v5 points behind Parise despite playing 300 fewer minutes.— Face Puncher (@GerWilderness) March 28, 2015
The captain, Mikko Koivu, tipped a Stewart shot/pass through the five-hole of Ramo 3:23 later. That goal was scored on a 3-on-2 rush caused by Minnesota's ability to transition and keeping their sticks on the puck in the defensive zone. Zach Parise would make the play all by himself after blocking a shot at the Wild blue line and he'd take all the way on a breakaway for the Wild's fourth goal. It was Parise's 30th goal of the season and becomes the fourth Wild player in franchise history to hit the 30 goal mark.
Parise fourth #mnwild player to ever hit 30....Gaborik 5x (I think), Rolston 3, Pominville once— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) March 28, 2015
Marcus Granlund, brother of Mikael, scored on a deflection to cut the lead to two, but that would be as close as the Flames would get and the Wild cinch the 4-2 win at home.
The Wild led the Corsi charts all evening long:
The Wild will now focus its attention on the Los Angeles Kings who have gone on a run that saw them overtake the Flames for third in the Pacific Division. They are current;y in the midst of a five game road trip where they've won the first three games. In the month of March, the Kings have gone 8-3-2. The game starts at 7 PM.