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 3-0 win against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.
LOS ANGELES --
There are like five reasons why Zach Parise's power-play goal in the second period was massive. Let's dissect a few of them.
For starters, it ended an 0-for-25 streak on the power play, an area the Wild was desperately working to get on the board.
To expand on that, the Wild's power play had not scored on the road since November 17, spanning 13 games, an 0-for-34 slide. The Wild's power play at home has been effective (sixth in the NHL entering Thursday), but on the road, it hasn’t had the same mojo.
Minnesota went back to an old unit with Parise, Ryan Suter, Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund, and Jason Pominville, and it did the trick.
"All we've been doing is bouncing around, we've been trying different units probably too much, so we decided to go back to that group," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "That group in December was in the top 10 in the league."
The goal also gave the Wild a 1-0 lead, meaning Minnesota didn't have to chase, something the Wild has done more than it would like to lately.
And of course, the Wild has been in search of more offense, and a night after Parise was very critical of his own lack of scoring recently, he let his play do the talking.
"The power play, we knew we had something there because early on in the season we were eighth at one point with that group," Suter said. "To get that group back together, we had confidence in it, and we moved it well."
Parise gets another takeaway, because when you fall on the sword like Parise did after the Wild's loss to the Anaheim Ducks, and less than 24 hours later, turn that sword into a goal, you've let your play do the talking.
"Our leaders did a great job tonight," Yeo said. "You look at the play of [Suter], and Mikko, and Zach, and not just to single out those guys alone, but that's what you need."
In the midst of its longest losing streak of the season, the Wild needed someone to step up. Parise did that on Wednesday off the ice, taking ownership with the Wild in need of goals, but then showed why actions speak louder than words.
"When things are like this, obviously getting a goal is huge, and Mikko and [Suter] had big assists, each, but as much as anything else it's just how they approached the game, and showed everybody that we'll be fine," Yeo said.
There were plenty of Wild players who had strong games on Thursday and contributed to the victory. But for Parise to go out and score a night after he said he needed to do so is emblematic of the type of leader he is for this team.
The obvious Jarret Stoll item tonight would be his return to Los Angeles, highlighted by a nice video tribute during a stoppage in the first period, but there's some hockey-stuff to go over as well.
Stoll, who has spent his first 17 games in Minnesota primarily centering the Wild's fourth line, found himself between Vanek and Jason Zucker on Thursday.
It was a move that began toward the end of the Wild's game on Wednesday against the Ducks, and Stoll and his linemates were effective again at Staples Center.
Vanek nearly scored in the second period when his one-time shot hit the outside of the net. Stoll retrieved a loose puck behind the net, got it to Zucker, who fed it up to Prosser, who found Vanek all alone at the bottom of the circle.
On the line's next shift, Stoll found himself in tight and nearly jammed home a puck in the crease. The line spent a lot of time in the Kings' zone, and nearly sniffed out a goal.
That video tribute was a good indication of how much Stoll meant to the Kings franchise.
"We know from the short amount of time we've had him around how great of a guy he is, and how classy of a person he is," Parise said. "But when you get a long, standing ovation from the crowd, I'm sure it meant a lot for him.
There was a time not so long ago that the Wild found itself leaning on Darcy Kuemper, and Kuemper responded in rather convincing fashion.
With Devan Dubnyk recovering from a groin injury, Kuemper made six starts in December, and went 4-0-2, allowing six goals with one shutout of his own, and another he shared with Dubnyk.
Then Kuemper was forced to sit out with a concussion, Dubnyk took over, and it was almost easy to forget how influential Kuemper was to the Wild's success.
Kuemper made his second start in the past month for the Wild on Thursday, and it was a very good one.
"It was nice to be in a regular game again, and it's always a tight checking game in this building, so you just try to make that first save," Kuemper said.
He had a number of big stops, including one at the end of the second period on Jordan Nolan. The Kings forward found free space above the crease, and as he took a cross-ice pass from behind the net, Kuemper pushed across, only to kick his right pad back out to stop Nolan's shot going against the grain.
Under two minutes later, Charlie Coyle scored to put the Wild up 2-0. That save is likely the difference between the Wild starting the third period up 2-0, or tied 1-1.
"He made big saves, and a lot of sneaky saves just with the traffic," Yeo said. "That's probably the benefit of a big goalie, to be able to see through some of that stuff."
Kuemper getting back into a groove would be a very good thing for the Wild for this busy, upcoming stretch run.
He's also had a knack for playing well on the West Coast, and Yeo said there's a very good chance Kuemper could start again on Saturday in San Jose.
As for what is the source of Kuemper's strong play in the state of California?
"Maybe it's the California girls, I don't know," he said.
As Coyle descended in on Jonathan Quick, dancing with the puck on his stick as Quick went down, his shot ticked off of Quick's pad, and trickled wide.
With that kind of Grade-A chance, to see Coyle beat Quick but not score, it fit the theme of the Wild's poor puck luck over the past few weeks.
But Coyle would not be denied twice.
On the tail end of a 47-second shift, Coyle leaked out of the zone, and took a home run pass from Marco Scandella. The puck only reached the warning track though, and Coyle had to reach back to keep the play onside, which was by the slightest of margins. (Los Angeles challenged the play, and the call was upheld.)
"I knew I fumbled it," Coyle said. "I think [Scandella] put some backspin on that one when he flipped it."
With only Quick to beat, Coyle again pulled out some moves, got Quick to bite, and roofed a puck under the crossbar.
"It's nice," Coyle said. "We've struggled as of late, so it feels good to put a few in."