It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
And thank the lord for that old adage, because what a putrid start it was for the Minnesota Wild in preseason action against St. Louis on Wednesday.
But as the saying goes, the Wild crawled away with a 4-3 win in overtime behind some late heroics from a trio of youngsters.
Fortunately for the Wild, not many fans will likely remember the start, instead trying to wrap their heads around how forward Brandon Duhaime snuck the puck in from an absurd angle with less than five minutes left to draw the Wild within a score or how Adam Beckman rifled his snap shot past Husso so quickly to win the game.
The overtime goal is one that should have Wild fans clamoring for Beckman to make the roster, if they hadn’t already come to that conclusion (They should have). But the goal started with another young gun who is pressing coach Dean Evason for a spot on opening night.
Marco Rossi, the 20-year-old ninth overall pick by the Wild in 2020, showed he’s ready on the play. Rossi flies out of the defensive zone with the puck before fighting off a Blues checker, curling back to feed Dmitry Kulikov at the point.
Kulikov tapped the puck back to Beckman in the slot, and the 20-year-old rookie and 2019 third round draft pick whipped a quick snap shot over Husso’s glove hand to finish the comeback.
Beckman finished with a Gordie Howe hat trick, recording a goal, assist and a fight (one that looked to make the rookie a bit wobbly, so it was good to see him come back. While the need for him to drop the gloves may be questioned, I’ll give him this—it shows he has no intentions of heading back to AHL Iowa.)
Wednesday looked bleak early, though.
The Blues opened the scoring just two minutes in on a wrap-around goal. Defenseman Jordie Benn was unable to take the puck from the Blues’ Dakota Joshua a few minutes later beneath the goal line and then couldn’t find Nathan Walker, who buried a pretty feed from Joshua to make it 2-0.
Just after the five minute mark, Kappo Kahkonen was beaten by a long point shot from Robert Bortuzzo as Michael Frolik provided the screen to give St. Louis a 3-0 lead.
Whatever Evason told his players in the home locker room at Xcel Energy Center after the first period appeared to resonate with his team. The Wild outshot the blues 25-10 over the next two periods, eventually mustering the offense to tie the game.
The comeback started with Victor Rask finding the loose puck near the net on the power play, eventually lifting it past Blues netminder Ville Husso on the rebound in the second period.
Minnesota saw its future take over in the third.
Duhaime, a 24-year-old winger, entered the offensive zone with speed before blazing a wrist shot just under the blocker of Husso near the 16 minute mark of the final period to make it 3-2.
After becoming a fan favorite last season, Nico Sturm reminded Wild fans what they love about him as he deflected a Calen Addison point shot into the net to tie things up with less than a minute left in the game.
It was a game that featured an ugly start for the young roster, but they stuck with the process and got the job done. It’s game like Wednesday from Beckman and Rossi that are going to give Evason and GM Bill Guerin some tough decisions to make in regards to where their youngest players will start the year.
And regardless of how those decisions shape up, the Wild have to be excited about what’s in the pipeline and could be competing at the NHL level in short order.
I know I sure am.
The Wild host the Blackhawks at 7:00 p.m. Thursday.