The Minnesota Wild continue roll through the post all-star game schedule with another win, this time in shootout fashion, against the Ottawa Senators. The Senators, winners of their last five games, have been riding hot, young goaltender Andrew Hammond, the reigning NHL First Star of the Week. Minnesota has been riding their own First Star as Devan Dubnyk is trying to defend his Star of the Month title.
This was also the first time the Wild fans could see newly acquired players in Jordan Leopold and Chris Stewart in the hometown sweaters.
Mike Yeo started the game with Mikko Koivu flanked by Thomas Vanek and Chris Stewart. Both players are possession black holes and they did their best to make Koivu look like Zach Parise out there. That line combo lasted all of 30 minutes in the game as the only lines that were playing well was the third and fourth lines, that remained mostly intact aside from Sean Bergenheim getting slotted in the right wing spot in place of healthy scratch Jordan Schroeder.
Both teams skated to a scoreless tie in the first period. Justin Fontaine almost tipped home and Leopold shot, then gathered his rebound, but couldn't put it past Hammond. That was easily the best opportunity of the period for both teams. It was a really even period, and even game for that matter. Minnesota got sloppy trying to skate through the neutral zone because Ottawa was doing a fantastic job of clogging up the passing lanes. The Sens are also so good (or at least the Wild made them look like it was easier for them) at exiting the defensive zone.
The second period saw goal scoring and both goals from the Wild came off the stick of Mathew Dumba. Dumba's first was a Howitzer of a shot on a one-timer from the left circle. Mikeal Granlund was able to find him with a cross-ice feed and placed the puck right into Dumba's wheelhouse. Dumba got his second of the night from the top of the crease. Stewart sent a centering pass that pin-balled around and found Dumba crashing the net.
But a weird bounce came back to bite the team too. Twenty-eight ticks after Dumba's second goal, a bad clearing attempt got blocked and then bounced through a few players before landing on Mika Zibanejad's stick to cut the lead in half. Like I said earlier, the Senators were so good in the nuetral zone that they were able to counter-attack often. There were a few breakaways - Bobby Ryan was stopped on one of those by Dubnyk on the power play. After a turnover in the Sens' zone, Ottawa worked a 3-on-2 rush up ice, Mike Hoffman, who was wide on the right wing side sent a pass to Bobby Ryan on the left wing side for the game-tying goal.
Nate Prosser went down halfway through the game and didn't return to the game. Leopold was saw over 17 minutes in his first game with the Wild. Ryan Suter saw 33 minutes and Jonas Brodin, who looked really good all night, saw 29 minutes.
Minnesota got into penalty trouble in the third period when Dumba got called for hooking. The penalty kill was forced to be strong, but minus their defensive studs like Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella, the Wild basically held on for dear life. Dubnyk and the Wild got the benefit of the Senators hitting not one, not two, but three posts on the power play. Then as soon as Dumba vacated the box, he hit Granlund with a centering pass that was stopped by Hammond with an old school two-pad stack. The Wild then proceeded to pressure after they were able to change the penalty killers. They had a flurry of shots from everyone and hemmed the power play line of the Senators in the zone, They were gassed as they had been on the ice for a total of 3:33 at the end of Dumba's penalty and the pressure that the Wild put on. The Wild penalty kill finished the game 4 for 4.
Both teams couldn't get it done in regulation so to extra time we went. Both teams traded really nice chances with Ottawa controlling most of the puck in Minnesota's end. Pominville and Parise failed to connect on a 3-on-2 rush, Charlie Coyle caused a turnover and got a breakaway that Hammond was able to glove and freeze. The game would then head to the decisive shootout.
- Mikko Koivu scored on his forehand-to-backhand top shelf move.
- Bobby Ryan tied it with a wrister. Zach Parise shot the puck wide.
- Mika Zibanejad it the post.
Jason Pominville scored on a wrister.
Kyle Turris tied it up again. Nino Niederreiter was stopped.
Mark Stone was stoned.
- Charlie Coyle scored with a snap shot over Hammond's glove and -
- Dubnyk blocked Mike Hoffman's try for the win and the big two points in the standings.
We saw exactly the types of players got when they acquired both Stewart and Leopold. Leopold is serviceable defenseman that will fit nicely in the third pairing and can play second pair in spot occasions. He was good at moving the puck out of the zone and created some offense from the blue line. As for Stewart, he was physical and his assist on Dumba's goal was fortunate, but good. However, his defense and puck possession is brutal. He didn't back-check in the slightest on Ryan's goal, and wasn't a factor throughout most of the game outside of Yeo changing the lines by swapping Bergenheim and Stewart to start the third. It'll be interesting once fully healthy, how these guys are deployed, who they're paired with, and, for Stewart, how much he buys in and gives effort.
Wild win and now trail Winnipeg by a point with a game in hand for the first wild card position. the Wild lead by three points on the Kings, who are in ninth.