The Minnesota Wild once again walked into an opposing arena tonight searching for their first win away from the X. The Bruins would be starting Malcom Subban, the 3rd goalie on their depth chart because of some injury issues. There should be no problem beating this guy then, right?
The Wild, as per usual, came out of the gate a little stale as they tried to get their legs under them and remembering what Boudreau has been telling them of late. “I’m not Mike Yeo, so stop playing like I am!” As the period weaved it’s way through the space-time continuum, you could see some brief signs of life with the Wild. While the Boston Bruins owned more of the zone time early, the Wild started tilting the ice back in their favor. The Staal-Coyle-Nino line were able to get the Wild a little bit of extended pressure but shots were at a premium.
Two minutes into the period Zac Dalpe would drop the gloves for his first NHL scrap, picking Tim Schaller to tango with. It wasn’t really expected, so my view of the bout from the couch had a big graphic covering it up. When FSN was done telling us whatever we really needed to know, Schaller was laying on top of Dalpe which I can only assume means Dalpe found a peanut on the ice and just had to eat it. Schaller grew jealous and tried to jump him for it.
The period would come to a close with the Wild winning in the shot department by an 8-5 margin. The Wild’s struggle to get a decent amount of shots on goal in the opening period has been a major complaint among the fans, so it was nice of the team to recognize this and make at least a small effort toward remedying the situation. Parise did take a hard shot off his ankle early in the period but didn’t miss a shift. We’ll see how he’s feeling tomorrow, looked like it hurt quite a bit.
The 2nd period would start and after the Wild chased the Bruins around their own end of the ice for a couple minutes they would get a fire lit under their butts and start the charge. Kicking off the scoring for the Wild would be Charlie Coyle. Coyle didn’t seem to get everything on his shot from out front, and that may have been what fooled Malcom Subban. Nino Niederreiter was driving in on the forecheck and dropped the puck back for Coyle. Coyle wrists one from the wall and arced towards the net looking for a rebound. Eric Staal barely got a stick on it before Coyle wheeled around and beat Subban with a slow moving puck.
Twelve seconds later Chris Stewart would get on the scoreboard too! The Wild flipped the puck behind the net and after Joel Eriksson Ek and Jason Zucker chased it down, Zucker would center it out front where Stewart was streaking in. Stewart snapped his shot into the top corner to put the Wild up 2-0, but they weren’t quite done yet.
About halfway through the period the Wild would find themselves on a power play when Adam McQuaid would get flagged for cross-checking Nino Niederreiter. Right off the draw Mikael Granlund would fight for the puck along the wall and flip it back to Matt Dumba. Dumba threw a pass across the blue line to Ryan Suter who ripped a slap shot past Subban and put the Wild up 3-0 and do nothing for anyone who wants to see Suter removed from the PP. Boston at this point decided they had seen enough of Subban and pulled him in favor of another rookie netminder, Zane McIntyre who is a Thief River Falls native. (#OneOfUs)
Yet, the Wild still weren’t done with the scoring in the period because Jason Zucker deflected a Suter shot past McIntyre to to put the Wild up 4-0. Zucker and Eriksson Ek were battling for a puck down in the corner and JEE was able to drop a pass back to a waiting Suter at the blue line. Zucker set himself up for a screen when Suter let another shot fly from the blue line. Zucker with daft hands was able to get his stick on the shot and deflected it past McIntyre.
The Wild would finish the period scoring 4 goals on 14 shots on 2 different goalies. The Bruins had 13 attempts on goal but aside from a nice sliding save from Devan Dubnyk in the period there wasn’t much to get worried about.
The Wild would come out in the 3rd period still trying to increase their lead. Jason Zucker would come streaking into the Bruins zone and get a shot off while he was being checked. He slid awkwardly into the goal, striking his leg against the right post and was not quick to get up. Like Parise he would not miss a shift despite the fall looking pretty brutal. The Bruins would try to tilt the ice back in their favor but for all their chances the Wild seemed prepared and were able to fight back, putting the pressure back on the Bruins.
Zac Dalpe around the 9 minute mark of the 3rd period would get penalized for a dangerous boarding check. Noel Acciari had his back to Dalpe right by the benches and Dalpe took a run at him. Just a dumb move by the kid who earned a 2 minute minor for boarding and a 2 minute minor for roughing. How he got away without getting a major for this is beyond me. These are the kind of plays the NHL is trying to eliminate from the game. The Wild would kill off the 2 minute penalty without issue and Dalpe would spend the rest of the game sitting.
After the Wild killed the penalty, the game seemed to slow down until about the final few minutes when Boston started ramping up the pressure. Amid all that, the Wild would find themselves back in the Bruins zone and Joel Eriksson Ek would get a shot off and McIntyre sent the rebound towards Jason Pominville who was camping out under the right circle. Pominville didn’t have the best angle, but plenty of net to shoot at and score the Wild’s 5th goal of the evening.
The Bruins would get a late power play opportunity to try and break the shutout when Jason Zucker took a big hit from Acciari. Zucker would chase Acciari up the ice and get caught slashing, giving the Bruins a power play with 1:33 left in the period. The silver lining in that was it gave the Wild free reign to ice the puck the remainder of the game barring a Boston goal. There was a few scrambles late, but the Wild’s stingy defense kept most of the action away from Dubnyk.
The Wild secured their first road win in a big way. Dubnyk earned the shutout although he wasn’t tested terribly hard in the game and 5 different players scored for the Wild tonight and 10 players had at least a point in the contest. Joel Eriksson Ek had 3 assists in the game, Jason Zucker also had 3 points with a goal and 2 assists, and Ryan Suter finished with a goal and an assist on the evening. The Wild played as close to a complete game on the road as we’ve seen this season, and took advantage of a Bruins squad that has plenty of firepower, but just doesn’t have the NHL level goalies on the roster right now.
Next up for the Wild, they travel to Upstate New York to take on the Buffalo Sabres this Thursday. After a great game tonight, hopefully the Wild aren’t setting themselves up for a huge letdown on Thursday. Remember to keep checking back with Hockey Wilderness for more coverage in the next few days, and all our thoughts and reactions to tonight’s action in Beantown.