Following Wild games, Content Coordinator Evan Sporer will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at the Wild's 4-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
After morning skate on Tuesday, Jason Pominville said the Wild had to find a way to get two points. On Friday, after a big divisional win to open its four-game road trip in St. Louis, Head Coach Mike Yeo said the Wild would need to find different ways to win games.
Playing most of Tuesday night with 11 forwards, and playing its fourth game in six nights, the Wild found a way against the Blue Jackets, and left Nationwide Arena with those two points.
"Given the circumstances, a pretty gusty win by our guys," Yeo said.
The Wild got a clutch performance by Zach Parise, who had a hat trick, and now leads Minnesota with 14 goals.
Parise, who has been getting used to playing with a knee brace, showed no signs of it inhibiting him.
"I forgot about it," Parise said postgame with a laugh.
The Wild got a monster game out of Ryan Suter, who, along with his two assists, ate up more than 27 minutes against Columbus' top dogs.
"For anybody to be tired, he certainly had an opportunity to use that excuse tonight, but he didn't," Yeo said of Suter, who played a combined 119:49 on the road trip. "At both ends of the ice, just leading rushes, carrying pucks, but the poise in d-zone, his execution, and his defensive play, he was rock solid tonight."
Leaders stepped up without their captain, which was a great sign. Minnesota protected a one-goal lead in the third, and actually got stronger as the period went on.
"You need leaders, and in games like this, you know you're going to be tired, and how do you dig deep, and … make sure that no lazy habits creep in?" Yeo said. "But what it comes down to is you still have to find a way to battle through it, and those guys exemplified that tonight."
In turn, the Wild came away with five of a possible eight points on a long road trip.
With a new set of forward lines entering the game on Tuesday, Yeo said there was a plan in case the Wild needed to switch things up.
It did, very early in the first period, but it wasn't performance-based.
Captain Mikko Koivu crashed heavily into the boards after taking a shot 1:21 into the game. He got up under his own strength, skated to the bench, but then left the game and was taken to a local-area hospital for precautionary reasons.
Short a center, Yeo was forced to mix-and-match, playing nearly the entire game down a forward. On the fourth game of a road trip, and the fourth game in six nights, it wasn't an easy task.
"Everybody played with everybody; it was mass-confusion on the bench," Yeo said. "Amazing we didn't take any too-many men on the ice penalties, or not-enough men on the ice penalties."
Not for nothing, but these are the nights when Coyle's flexibility is a huge bonus. Coyle was able to take shifts at center after starting on Mikael Granlund's wing.
"A guy goes down that early, and lines are changed — you know that — and it's kind of a cluster," Coyle said. "You never know who's going out, everyone is playing with everyone, but we stuck with it, and we played our game, and we played hard."
Koivu traveled home with the Wild postgame, and his status will be updated when more information becomes available.
There are some plays when you can feel something good building. A few passes are being strung together, ice begins to open up, and you're waiting for the "good" to come to fruition.
For a solid 20-or-so seconds, the Wild cycled the puck around Columbus' zone, space and time became available, and it seemed like the Wild was ready to do something good.
And then Parise scored his second of the game.
On a play that should be defined by how each Wild player who touched the puck bettered the sequence, Parise found the goal after Minnesota completed 10 consecutive passes.
Playing four-on-four, the Wild took advantage of more space in the offensive zone. The puck made its way up-and-down the walls before Granlund cut in at the high slot, floated a perfect pass onto Parise's tape, and let the Wild's leading goal scorer do the rest.
"There was a little open ice with the four-on-four, a little more puck possession, and we were able to bring them out high a little bit, and do a little high cycle," Parise said. "It was an awesome pass by Granlund. A seven-foot high saucer pass; it was really nice."
During a recent stretch, puck luck had not been on the Wild's side.
Minnesota hit the post (more than once), had two reviews uphold no-goal calls with pucks tantalizingly close to going over the goal line, a Matt Dumba batted-in puck taken off the board due to a high stick, and a Parise power-play goal rescinded for goaltender interference.
And that was all in a matter of two weeks.
The Wild, and Parise, finally had one go their way on Tuesday, when Parise broke a six-game goal drought on a delayed penalty for his first of the game, then had the goal stand after Columbus challenged for offside.
"I had a bad feeling about that," Parise said. "You can't disallow three in a week, could you?"
Minnesota showed good patience on the goal, recollecting itself in the defensive zone before going the length of the ice with the extra skater, with Parise finishing off the play via a well placed snap shot from his off-wing.
"I had a bad feeling about it, but I was relieved when they announced it was a good goal," Parise said. "I was thinking, 'here we go again; another one,' but luckily it went our way."
Tyson Strachan made his Minnesota Wild debut on Tuesday in a very familiar city for the 31-year-old veteran.
Strachan played his college hockey at the Ohio State University from 2003-2007. He still takes up residence in Columbus. He drew into the lineup against the Blue Jackets in place of Nate Prosser, who missed the game with a hand injury.
And true to the scouting report Strachan provided for himself in training camp, and after his subsequent call-ups to Minnesota, he played a steady, stay-at-home game. Nothing flashy, which is what the Wild was expecting and needing from Strachan, a defensively-minded anchor, who played nine minutes.
"Strachan did a good job," Yeo said.