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  • The Wild Extend Their Win Streak to Nine Games Over the Canadiens


    The Minnesota Wild tied their franchise best winning streak tonight as they won their ninth game in a row. Zach Parise missed the game as he was sick, so Jordan Schroeder was slotted in to the Wild’s fourth line. The Wild weren’t great tonight as they were outshot 34 to 27, and Devan Dubnyk even looked a little shaky at times. But in the end, the Wild were able walk away from the Bell Centre with a 4-2 victory with goals from Schroeder, Spurgeon, Staal, and Zucker.

    The first period started off a bit slow, and the first few shots weren’t taken until about three and a half minutes in by the Wild. Afterwards, the Wild were able to get several flurries of shots off to jump to a quick 10-1 lead in shots on goal. For the second game in a row, Nino Niederreiter was able to draw a holding penalty early in the first, this time against Brian Flynn. While the Wild wouldn’t score on their first power play, both Jared Spurgeon and Jason Pomiville were able to get decent chances.

    In a game where the Wild were likely going to needed their top two lines to be solid, the top line had difficulty getting anything going through much of the game. One example came about halfway through the first period where they were pinned into the Wild’s zone and couldn’t find a way to clear the puck or exit the zone.

    Christian Folin then took a tripping minor to put the Wild on the penalty kill for the first time of the game, but the Wild were able to kill it off without much trouble. The first period would end scorless with the Wild leading in shots 13 to 10.

    The Canadiens were able to take the shooting lead early in the second, but Niederreiter drew another penalty, one which the Wild would probably have liked to decline in hindsight. Max Pacioretty broke away during the Wild’s power play and scored a short handed goal to give the Canadiens the lead.

    Up to this point, the fourth line had been having a rough game. Made up of Schroeder, Pat Canoli, and Kurtis Gabriel, the line had been pinned in the Wild’s zone several times and Schroeder had been called offsides a number of times. Then, with a solid shift from everyone on the ice, Schroeder was able to tie the game for the Wild. Unfortunately, the line’s poor play would catch up with them shortly after as Arturri Lehkonen would bury a rebound past Dubnyk after some shoddy defensive zone coverage.

    Then Pacioretty would hook Pominville and put the Wild on a power play. With the chance to tie up the game once again, the best the Wild could do was get a shot from Dumba wide of the goal. However, Spurgeon would be able to tie it up and end his goalless drought right after a draw in the offensive zone. The goal is Spurgeon’s first since October 18th, but it will probably just be the start of a 15 game goal streak, right? One can dream.

    The second period would end tied 2-2 with the Canadiens leading in the shot department 26-21 and a small scrum involving Shea Weber and Niederreiter.

    While the third period would start with a short breakaway against the Wild, the game would start to pick up pace in favor of the Wild when Charlie Coyle took a high sticking penalty. On the following penalty kill, Eric Staal would grab the lead for the Wild with a great short handed goal and repay the Canadiens for their earlier shorty.

    Meanwhile, in the midst of much warranted praise by coaches, media members, and fans alike, Spurgeon would take his third penalty in two games. “Tank” played his 400th game tonight, and in such time he only has 60 penalty minutes. Of players with at least 375 games since Spurgeon joined the league, he has the second fewest penalty minutes of any player, behind only Marcus Johansson.
    From NHL.com

    After Staal’s short handed goal, the game’s pace really started to pick up and the Wild were able to get decent zone time from each of the top 3 lines. One particularly fun play saw Coyle split several defenders and just lose control of the puck before being able to get a shot away. Each team would take another penalty: a high sticking call against the Canadiens and a too many men penalty against the Wild. The most notable thing to happen in that time was a rebound swept out of the crease by Spurgeon and a clear by Mikko Koivu while on the penalty kill. No more short handed goals were scored.

    In the waning minutes, Dubnyk caught a deflection in the air above the net, and Jason Zucker would put the game out of reach for the Canadiens with an empty net goal. The game would thus end 4-2 with the Wild victorious.

    While the game wasn’t perfect, this is a big win for the Wild. Not only did they extend their winning streak, but they also demonstrated that they can beat a top goaltender and beat a top team.

    The Wild will be playing again tomorrow night against the Rangers, and that will likely be a greater challenge as the Rangers will be motivated after 7-2 loss to the Penguins. Tired or not, the Wild will need to build off tonight’s win in order to inch closer to the top of the Central Division and Western Conference.

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