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  • Wild win 2nd in a row with a 5-3 victory over Flames


    The Wild fought through a slow start and a choppy first period to gain its first consecutive wins since December 17th. Erik Haula, Jason Zucker, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville, and Charlie Coyle all score to lead the Wild to a 5-3 win.

    The first period was riddled with a lot of stoppages as the Wild tried to work its way into the Flames zone. However, the speedy forwards of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Sam Bennett seemed to keep the puck in the Minnesota end for large portions of the period. That was until the third line of Jason Pominville, Erik Haula, and Nino Niederreiter got a chance to win a faceoff in the offensive zone. Pominville won the faceoff, while Niederreiter tried to move the puck behind the net. A check removed Niederreiter from the puck, but Pominville gathered the puck and fed it to the slot for a wide-open Haula, who shot it past Jonas Hiller. The line was the best line of the night and combined for six points on the night.

    A penalty for tripping by Zach Parise gave the Flames the game's first power play. Nate Prosser made a great play to block the shot from the left circle in the defensive zone. The puck popped up and the Calgary defenseman over-skated it, allowing Prosser to skate the puck out. Prosser dished it off to Zucker, who already flew the zone. Zucker fought through a couple poke checks and ripped a wrister over the glove of Hiller for Minnesota's 7th short-handed tally of the season.

    Both teams were pretty undisciplined. There were eight power plays in the game, but an early 5-on-3 power play in the second period for the Wild ended in a big goal to give Minnesota a three goal cushion. Ryan Suter's shot from the point found daylight over Hiller's blocker. The goal was then credited later to Mikko Koivu, who got a piece of the puck as it tore its way through traffic.

    But the Flames weren't going away any time soon. Parise lost his man and Deryk Engelland streaked down the left side and sneaked in on the back door for a goal. Gaudreau, was the one that found him with the puck. This kid is so freaking fun to watch. David Jones would then get a beneficial bounce for his 9th of the season. Mike Reilly actually got his stick on the puck just as Jones shot it to deflected it away...right into the face of Matt Dumba and into the net. Dumba was alright, but the goal was insult to, ah...some minor pain.

    Minnesota answered back when Pominville scored his 7th of the season. Erik Haula used his speed to gather a puck that Hiller made a save on to keep the cycle going. After rotating the puck back down behind the net to Niederreiter. Nino centered to Haula, who then dropped to Pominville. Pominville had the better angle and was able to find the back of the net.

    The Flames really got a lot of pressure in the game. Interim coach John Torchetti said, "Looks like we might have left our legs in Vancouver," and you could see at times Minnesota having trouble clearing the puck. Calgary also hit three posts in the game. When puck luck isn't going your way, it isn't going your way. And vice versa for Minnesota. The game could have gotten a little out of hand, had it not been for the iron frame.

    Mikael Backlund was able to make the Wild pay on its 4th of five penalties. The puck was threaded through the defensive box to T.J. Brodie. Brodie then found Backlund on the far post with a nice cross-crease pass. Suddenly, it was a game again. Nino Niederreiter made a great single effort and hit a post of his own behind Jonas Hiller. With the net empty in the Calgary end, Parise passed the puck to Charlie Coyle, who found the open net to seal deal.

    There really seems to be a lot more jump in the young guys in two games since Mike Yeo was dismissed. In six periods, the Wild have scored 10 goals with 7 of those goals coming from the 26 years old and under group on the team. Twelve points have been tallied by that same 26 and under group in six periods. The problems that plagued the Wild may not have all been coaching. In fact, it would be unfair to solely blame Yeo for what had transpired in the 14 game prior to his dismissal. But whether or not Yeo actually did keep the Wild youngsters down, if the players perceived it that way, the change was probably necessary. They certainly look liberated in these two games.

    It's only two games, and any real grandiose takes should be taken with a grain of salt. The real thing will be to see this team continue this effort and sustain the success. But even if the Wild win every game left this season, though highly unlikely, would won't ever find out if this team really has turned a corner and what kind of coach Torchetti is until there is some adversity and the team is losing confidence.

    Minnesota now travels to Edmonton to take on Connor McDavid and the Oilers Thursday night before heading home for the Stadium Series game on Sunday.

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