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 3-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Xcel Energy Center.
Ryan Suter playing with a right-right handed shot has made Suter a much more effective player through the neutral and into the offensive zone.
That was the thinking the first day of training camp when Suter was paired with Jared Spurgeon, and the results have reflected well on Suter, Head Coach Mike Yeo, and Assistant Coach Rick Wilson.
"We've done it a lot in practice. A lot of repetition helps you with that as well," Spurgeon said. "He makes smart plays with the puck, so I just try to get open."
Suter recorded his sixth assist on Thursday, tied for second-most among NHL defensemen. On the play, he made a good read at the offensive blue line, pinching down to meet a clearing attempt before walking the puck down the side wall past Brandon Dubinsky, and firing the puck into a dangerous area. It ended up deflecting off Zach Parise, who was crashing the net, and in.
"It just gives me better looks offensively, and in the neutral zone," Suter said of playing with Spurgeon. "It's been working well, and hopefully it continues."
It's evident the chemistry Suter and Spurgeon have established, and how well they read off each other.
"Tonight they were very good," Yeo said.
The pairing has dominated at times, and did again against Columbus. Spurgeon attempted four shots in the second period, and Suter three. Spurgeon picked up his first two points of the season in the second period, and has been doing a lot of things very well on each end.
"Two very smart players, two very competitive players, both compete different ways, but both are very competitive," Yeo said. "You can't be that good if you're not real strong defensively, and if you don't have good offensive instincts and abilities to make those plays. They've been very good at both ends of the ice."
Another goal-scorers goal for Parise, who now has six in six games this season, which is tied for the NHL lead.
Jack Johnson appeared to be in good position in front, but Parise, as he does so often, out-worked an opposing player, and turned nothing into something. He hustled to the crease, and was rewarded when the puck hit his leg and redirected into the back of the net.
And as has been the case all season, Parise was hustling all over the ice for 60 minutes, causing havoc and creating possession and chances for the Wild.
After a very, very strong game in Anaheim, the line of Mikko Koivu, Jason Zucker, and Nino Niederreiter got back on the board on Thursday.
A shift with sustained possession in Columbus' zone ended with Spurgeon taking a shot that popped up in front. As the puck landed, Niederreiter, with his back to goal, spun and shot all in one motion, scoring his third goal of the season, and second in as many games.
There were plenty of shifts on Sunday in Anaheim where puck possession and scoring chances didn't result in a goal for the line. After morning skate on Thursday, Niederreiter said his line needed to take advantage of those chances, and sharpen up on goal scoring. He had the puck on his stick for less than a second before he released it, wasting no time and making no mistake on that scoring chance.
Another power-play goal for the Wild, this time from the second unit, its first of the season. A really cheeky play by the goal scorer Thomas Vanek.
The Wild worked the puck around the zone, and it made its way to Zucker. With a lane to the net, Zucker sent the puck in low, toward Vanek, who tipped it up, off the head of Sergei Bobrovsky's, and in. There wasn't a lot of pace on the puck from Zucker, so the placement on Vanek's tip had to be perfect, which it was.
"That was nice. It was really a fantastic tip," Parise said. "We've seen him do that before, and that was a really nice goal-scorer's goal."
Getting the second power-play unit going would add another layer to the Wild's special teams and offense. Minnesota's first four power-play goals of the season came from the top unit, which generated more good looks against Columbus after the Blue Jackets took simultaneous minor penalties.
"We've been waiting for those guys, and I know the second unit definitely has the ability to make some plays, and create some goals," Yeo said. "Thomas is so dangerous in that area."
A very timely save from Devan Dubnyk at the end of the second period that really changed the complexion of the game.
Dubnyk made an initial stop on Cam Atkinson off a one-timer in the slot. With the rebound sitting in front, Alex Wennberg scooped it up, and swung his stick to the far post for what looked like a sure goal.
But Dubnyk made the save.
"I tried to poke-check him just right away as he grabbed it, and I sort of went over his stick," Dubnyk said. "Hopefully I knocked him off a little."
With his right leg anchored against the far post, Dubnyk covered the lower portion of the net. All Wennberg could do was stuff the puck home, at least until Dubnyk's right pad took away all that daylight.
"At that point, once you kind of go for the poke-check, all you can do is make yourself long, and when he's in that tight that's all you need to do," Dubnyk said
If Columbus scores there, it's a 3-3 game entering the third period, with the Blue Jackets having tied the game late in the second period, and taking momentum in the game's final 20. But Dubnyk came up big.