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Wild top Jets in preseason finale

Minnesota scored four in the third period en route to a 5-1 win

by Ryan Dittrick @ryandittrick /

SAINT PAUL, Minnesota - Mike Reilly, Christoph Bertschy, Marco Scandella and Charlie Coyle were all part of a four-goal third period to help the Minnesota Wild break a 1-1 tie and cruise past the Winnipeg Jets 5-1 in the preseason finale Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.

Reilly got the ball rolling with a power-play marker just 1:35 in. With Dustin Byfuglien off serving an ill-conceived roughing penalty, Reilly wired a slap shot from the right point and saw it deflect off a Jets player in front, beating a screened Michael Hutchinson low, blocker side.

With the Jets on their heels, Bertschy scored backhand five-hole just three-and-a-half minutes later, and Scandella added one shortly after that to make it a 4-1 game.

Charlie Coyle finished off a one-timer with 5:09 to play to seal the 5-1 outcome.

Joel Armia scored the lone goal for Winnipeg.

"I don't know that the evaluation of the game will reflect our overall evaluation of the preseason," Head Coach Paul Maurice said. "There were a few players in our lineup that were fighting to get in: I liked Marko Dano's game, I liked Josh Morrissey's game. I thought their energy and their compete was strong, but as a team, I don't think we were nearly as good as we're going to need to be on a nightly basis, but I think everyone understands that."

Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice

Morrissey, who played in all but one of the preseason games, was paired with Byfuglien tonight, recording one assist in 17 minutes and 39 seconds of ice time.

"Obviously after a loss like that you don't feel too good about anything, but I felt like I was able to show my stuff," Morrissey said. "I got a great opportunity playing six games, so I think overall I got better each game and that's all I can do."

Video: POSTGAME | Josh Morrissey

Despite suffering his first loss of the preseason, Hutchinson had a strong night between the pipes through two periods, especially, finishing with 29 saves.

"Tonight wasn't the outcome I was looking for, but as a goalie it was a good game for me to be in," Hutchinson said. "I got a lot of looks that I didn't get in the first two games. They have a really skilled lineup and they had a ton of traffic (in front) and created a couple odd-man rushes. It was an unfortunate outcome, but it was good to help me prepare for the regular season."

It was a 1-1 game with the shots in Minnesota's favour, 9-6, after one period of play. Zach Parise opened the scoring for the Wild with a power-play goal at 10:07, but Armia tied things up with his first of the preseason just 99 seconds later.

With Tyler Myers off serving a cross checking penalty, Parise - a six-time 30-goal scorer - made no mistake at the doorstep after being hit with a slap pass from Jared Spurgeon, who unloaded from the right point.

Then, after Mathieu Perreault won a key draw deep in enemy territory, Armia levelled the score. The Finn took a beautiful feed from Morrissey and briefly corralled it in the blue paint before stuffing it past Devan Dubnyk for the equalizer.

The Jets currently have 32 players on the roster and will have to down to 23 by Tuesday.

Some difficult decisions lie ahead for Maurice and General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff.

"We've got to have some courage now to make some decisions," Maurice said. "Players have reason to say that they were right there, but they still have a ways to go."

The Jets open the 2016-17 regular season this upcoming Thursday, Oct. 13, against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Game on.

- Ryan Dittrick,

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