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 5-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place.
In his three games as interim head coach, John Torchetti has made an impression with his energy and demeanor on the bench.
Torchetti was at it again on Thursday, vocally orchestrating the action from his spot, barking out marching orders for Mikael Granlund as he skated into the offensive zone in the second period.
Seconds later, Granlund scored.
Torchetti's instructions were simple: "Granny, go to the net." It could be heard clearly from the Rexall Place press box. Granlund obliged, pouncing on a rebound created by a Matt Dumba shot, and scoring.
"That's kind of the situation when you try to go to the net, and [Dumba] had a great shot, and there was a rebound," said Granlund, who said he did not hear Torchetti.
(During the postgame, Torchetti offered up that it was in fact him who was the yeller.)
The goal capped off a second period that the Wild outscored the Oilers 2-0 in. Torchetti said that was the next step for Minnesota: exorcising its demons in the game's middle 20 minutes.
The Wild entered the second period tied 2-2 in Edmonton, and walked out ahead by two goals. That's certainly a good step.
It's a small sample, but the Wild has now scored 15 goals in the three games under Torchetti, and for a team that wanted to get back to playing fast that's a good sign.
Not all of the Wild's goals the past three games have been scored with its foot on the pedal, but the Wild is getting up-and-down the ice well, including its defensemen.
"We've got a few goals from our track, and then attacking the net from above and going," Torchetti said. "But we're being a little more poised with the puck, and when you're poised with the puck in your offensive zone play that equals better puck possession time, and great puck support."
The Granlund goal was a good example, with Dumba activating up ice to create a scoring chance. Mike Reilly did so effectively as well (as you'll read about), and it wasn't like the Wild was sending an all-out blitz and leaving the defensive zone out to dry.
And for the first time in franchise history, the Wild scored at least five goals in regulation for a third consecutive game.
"We're getting some chances, we're going north, and obviously our power play has worked too, so that's a big key to that," Granlund said. "Hopefully we can keep going, and winning these games."
In a game the Wild started slowly, looking the part of a team that played and traveled last night, special teams played a major role in Minnesota navigating its way through the first period.
It's nothing new for the Wild.
Minnesota's power play went 2-for-2 in the first period, extending a franchise record to eight straight road games with a power-play goal.
Each came via a different avenue: Jason Pominville snapped home a shot across the grain when he corralled a loose puck in the circle, and Dumba set up Charlie Coyle with a slam dunk with a nifty centering feed in the slot, with Dumba himself getting the goal after it deflected in off Darnell Nurse's skate.
"We've just been volume-shooters, going to the net, and when you do that, other things open up — the seams," Dumba said. "It's been good that we've just established it, and felt more comfortable on it through our work-ethic."
Some more numbers to digest: The Wild now has a power-play goal in 10 of its past 12 games, though Thursday was the first time Minnesota connected for more than one. It was the first time since Nov. 17 the Wild scored twice on the power play in a visiting building.
Six of Dumba's eight goals have come on the power play, Pominville has goals in two straight after not scoring in his previous six, and the Wild's power play has gone 11 for its past 43, or 25.6 percent.
Reilly continues to look more and more comfortable playing in the NHL, and Thursday was the latest example.
After starting a rush with a solid headman pass, Reilly followed up in the offensive zone, pinching in from the blue line to keep in a Thomas Vanek shot that rimmed wide.
With the puck on his stick in the offensive zone, where Reilly looks so fluid, he glided down toward the goal line, creating a passing lane for Mikko Koivu. The Wild's captain wheeled through the trapezoid, and found an open Vanek in the slot for the goal.
You can almost see Reilly perk up in those situations, and the growing confidence he has that's building into every part of his game.
Thursday night was, in all likelihood, the final time the Wild will play at Rexall Place. The Oilers are opening a new arena next season, shutting the doors on the building they've called home since 1974.
You don't have to look hard to find history at Rexall, and take a walk down memory lane of the one the NHL's most historically successful franchises. On one end hangs banners that features the likes of Paul Coffey, Mark Messier, Grant Fuhr, and, of course, Wayne Gretzky.
Adjacent to that are the Stanley Cup banners, of which five are present. The Oilers will get to create new memories when they open Rogers Place in downtown Edmonton next season, but it's hard not to marvel in the history and the greatness that Rexall Place hosted.