TORONTO -- Charlie Coyle, who turned 24 on Wednesday, got an early birthday gift Tuesday night when he broke a 3-3 tie early in the third period against Colorado, for what amounted to the game-winning-goal.
Coyle added an empty-net goal later, and has three empty-netters in the past eight games, a different kind of gift.
"It's weird. I couldn't remember the last time I scored an empty-net goal before, what was it, Edmonton?" Coyle said. "Or the game before that? Sometimes they go in for you, and you get lucky bounces, and you're at the end of it."
It’s all part of the scoring tear Coyle has been on, with 11 goals in his past 18 games. He eclipsed the 20-goal plateau on Tuesday, with each passing goal setting a new career mark, and then added his 21st as the icing on his early birthday cake and the Wild's win with 87 seconds left in regulation.
"I wanted to contribute more, definitely," Coyle said. "Previous years I wasn't satisfied, not even close. It's different.
"Sometimes you're at the end of goals; sometimes you're creating it more. I happen to be on the end of a lot of great plays with the finish."
Though Coyle has been finding himself in the right place at the right time, according to his coach, that hasn't been by accident.
"Charlie's game has always been about what he's doing without the puck to generate that speed, and using his size," interim Head Coach Torchetti said. "He's done a good job, and putting him out there with Mikko defensively, he's learned a lot that way. Charlie has learned a lot with him and Zach."
When Coyle began his career in 2013, he spent time on a line with the two Wild captains.
Now in his second tour with Parise and Koivu, Coyle said he's still learning, and remembered how beneficial it was playing with the two veterans as a freshly-minted pro.
"I'm kind of more comfortable right now — a few years under my belt — and back playing with these guys, you still learn, and I just try to do my part," he said. "Play physical, and open some space up for them so they can do their thing out there.
"We click pretty well. We're getting better every game, and more comfortable, and chemistry-wise, it's been good."