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Depth scoring lets Wild survive zeroes from top guns

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In a first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series last year against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Minnesota Wild got one goal from their top line of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville.

That lack of production doomed them to a 4-1 series loss to the eventual Stanley Cup champions.

This year, tied 2-2 in a best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series against the Colorado Avalanche, Parise, Koivu and Pominville have zero goals. Trade-deadline acquisition Matt Moulson, a three-time 30-goal scorer, also has yet to score. Despite that, Minnesota's secondary scoring has emerged as the series heads back to Denver for Game 5 on Saturday at Pepsi Center (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN, FS-N, ALT).

A superior puck-control game and stellar defense certainly have played a hand in Minnesota's fortunes. But the scoring the Wild have received from some unexpected sources has been a game-changer.

The Wild are getting goals from emerging forwards Mikael Granlund, who scored the winning goal in Game 3, and Charlie Coyle, who scored the winner in Game 4. They're getting scoring from defensemen, with Ryan Suter, Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon each scoring a goal. They're getting goals from third-liners (Erik Haula) and fourth-liners (Kyle Brodziak).

In fact, everyone seems to be scoring for the Wild, except for their top goal-scorers.

"It's not that those guys haven't scored, they've put up other points. They are doing all the little things out there," Coyle said. "We really don't care who's scoring. As long as everyone plays together, the goals will come for whomever. And that's fine as long as we get the W's."

Pominville missed most of the series against the Blackhawks last year and Moulson was with the New York Islanders, but the lack of scoring from Parise and Koivu was one of the primary reasons Minnesota was dispatched so quickly by Chicago.

Parise and Koivu have been much more visible this series, thanks in large part to Minnesota's depth. No longer counted on to be the defensive shutdown line and the offensive scoring threat, the two have been allowed to create more this time around.

Parise has five assists in the four games and leads the Wild in playoff points. Koivu is right behind him with three assists and was a key facilitator on two of Coyle's team-leading three goals.

"They haven't scored goals, but they've created goals," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "They've done a lot more of that than they did last year. Quite often, you see that in the playoffs; the top guys kind of cancel each other out. Then it's the depth of your team, it's the guys behind them that end up making the difference."

Parise has been his typical all-out, all-the-time self in this series, creating several scoring chances. Pominville whistled two potential goals just wide in Game 4, and Moulson has clanked two posts. Considering the chances they've had, the hope is they'll inevitably find the back of the net.

"We have a deeper team this year," Spurgeon said. "If you look at our lines, anyone can come in and score a couple of goals a game. It's not that [the top forwards] aren't doing much out there, they're creating opportunities to score goals but they're just not going in. Soon they will."

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