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  • Flashback Friday: Better Late Than Never


    As the Minnesota Wild trampled the Dallas Stars inside of Xcel Energy Center on January 18 by a score of 7-0, I wanted to hop in the way back machine and find another big margined victory on home ice against a division rival. After some searching, I found one whopper of a candidate, which also happened to come against Dallas.

    It was February 22, 2015, and the Wild had just ended a three-game road stretch after a 4-0 victory over Edmonton. They took the ice to face the Stars, whom they had dropped a 7-1 decision to only a month prior. 

    However, this itineration of Minnesota’s squad was different than the one that took the ice earlier that season, as the Wild had acquired their workhorse goaltender Devan Dubnyk at the trade deadline, a move that changed the fabric of the season. Coming into this memorable night, Minnesota was 13-3-1 since the influential trade.

    Despite the increased level of play as a whole, this was an important game due to its date later in the season and also its implications for both teams in the division standings.

    After a scoreless first, and stalemated second for nearly 15 minutes, Dallas found the back of the net first on a man-advantage goal from Jason Spezza. The Wild had to lay back due to being down a man, and the Dallas center had plenty of space to flick a shot past Dubnyk into the top right of the goal. According to the broadcast, it was the first goal Minnesota had given up on a penalty kill in a more than a month. 

    The scoreline remained 1-0 going into the final frame, and Minnesota needed to find a way to break the ice in the scoring column. They would eventually do that — and then some.

    Just over a minute into the third, the Wild gained possession on the near side. Christian Folin shot an absolute dandy of a pass across net to find Zach Parise for a close-ranged goal, and the game was then tied at one goal apiece.

    Now with the home fans in their corner and starting to get wild, Mikko Koivu said “I’ll join this show, boys.” He capitalized off a nice defensive play from Ryan Suter to force a Dallas turnover, skated to his left and fired a shot from an almost impossible angle near the baseline. The puck deflected off Jhonas Enroth and into the net.

    It was 2-1 in favor of the Wild with plenty of time to go in the final period, and from this point forward, the game turned into the hockey version of an episode of Oprah giving away a new car. “You get a goal! And you get a goal! Everybody (in a Wild sweater) gets a goal!”

    With nearly 11 minutes to go, Marco Scandella made a little shimmy move with the puck at the top of the key and fired a screaming shot on net. The puck deflected off a few players, caused a scrum in front of the Dallas netminder, and was eventually finished by Stephane Veilleux (for his only goal of the season) to make the game 3-1. Remember, the Wild began this period down 1-0. 

    After the Stars’ Antoine Roussel committed an interference penalty three minutes later, Minnesota found themselves with a man-advantage. Dallas nearly secured a crucial kill, as there were only 23 seconds left on the clock, but the Wild had other ideas. They efficiently moved the puck to find a trailing Matt Dumba for the team’s fourth goal of the period on a nifty flick of the puck into the top right corner from the mainstay defenseman. 

    However, the onslaught didn’t stop there as, only a minute later, Nate Prosser executed a picture-perfect long-ranged pass to Mikael Granlund, who found himself camped out behind the Dallas defense for a breakaway and bar-down finish to give the home team a 5-1 advantage. 

    (Cue The Simpsons’ “Stop, he’s already dead” meme!)

    On the broadcast, fans inside the arena could be heard chanting “six,” as they weren’t ready for the party to end and wanted another goal. I guess we can infer that Zach Parise felt the same way, as he made an absolute beast of a play in keeping up with the puck in the offensive end after a Dallas turnover. He notched a backhanded shot between the legs of Enroth for his second goal of the evening. 

    The six-goal barrage in the final period was the most in the NHL to that point in the season, and despite the Stars recording their second goal in the closing moments, it was a coming-out party for a team who was on the rise, in the form of a 6-2 victory. 

    Minnesota continued their hot play throughout the rest of the regular season and finished with a highly respectable mark of 46-28-8. They even won a playoff series before falling to the rival Chicago Blackhawks in the second round.

    You can watch the replay of the game here on NHL.com.

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