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Five Takeways From Wild At Blues

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

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 overtime loss against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center.

ST. LOUIS – FIRST TAKEAWAY

Playing the second half of a back-to-back, many assume the team playing for the second time in 48 hours will be tired. 


But back-to-backs don't always go like that, and for the Wild, it was simply a matter of finding its footing midway through the first period. 

After all, the Wild has showed time after time this year it simply won't face a deficit lying down.

"It's easy to pack it in after a tough start in a back-to-back, but that's not what we do here," Devan Dubnyk said. "To come back and have an even game at the end of the first period on the road is not surprising with this group."

Trailing 2-0 after just 8:40 played in the first period, the Wild got back to its game. Minnesota started playing a lot more in the Blues end, managed the puck better, and eventually, tied the score before the period was over.

The Wild has scored three goals in the final minute of periods this season, all of which have been lead-changing.

SECOND TAKEAWAY

For the second straight game, Jason Zucker nearly scored on his first shift. There was no doubt Zucker scored on his sixth shift of the game.

In what amounted to a 66 seconds-long shift, Zucker outraced Colton Parayko to a puck, and picked out the top corner to cut the Wild's deficit in half.

The shift began with Carl Gunnarsson, who has about three inches on Zucker, laying on top of Zucker, keeping him pinned to the ice for a good five seconds in the Blues' zone.

As Zucker finally got up, he skated back toward center ice, but was sent right back where he came from when Ryan Suter chipped a puck up the boards. Zucker chased it down, and used his speed to keep a safe distance from the 6-foot-5 Parayko.

"He's a competitive kid. His competiveness has come a long way," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "He almost gets involved with some of it too much, but you don't want to slow him down with that because his emotion that he plays with, that competiveness is what's helping him be as strong a player as he is right now.

THIRD TAKEAWAY

With the game tied 2-2 for the final two periods, Devan Dubnyk made a number of high-quality saves to keep the score tied. 


Dubnyk stopped Jori Lehtera on a cross-ice pass in the waning seconds of the second period, just getting a piece of his shot with the pad.

Then early in the third, Steve Ott crashed the crease and took a one-timer of his own that looked labeled for the goal, but again, Dubnyk managed to get a piece.

With just about 90 seconds remaining in regulation, Dubnyk parried away a Ty Rattie shot off the rush with his arm, and in doing so earned Minnesota at least a point.

FOURTH TAKEAWAY



After going the first nine games of the season without an even-strength goal, the Wild's fourth line has two in two games. 



Erik Haula scored his first of the season to tie the game for the Wild with 43 seconds remaining in the first period. The Finnish-born forward started the play for the Wild, making a play on the wall on the forecheck in the offensive zone before Chris Porter poked it forward.

It ended up on the stick of Thomas Vanek, on the end of a shift, and Vanek connected with Haula, who roofed home a shot.

"He's been earning more and more every game," Yeo said.

What Yeo said he liked on Friday about the fourth line is what it creates through its work ethic, and at its core is defensively sound.

"Our fourth line really played great," Zucker said. "They really kind of changed the tempo."

FIFTH TAKEAWAY

The Wild isn't a team that's going to drop the gloves a lot, and Ryan Carter registered Minnesota's first fight on Saturday, and interestingly enough, he squared off against former teammate Kyle Brodziak.

It capped off a stretch of St. Louis throwing around its size, and a game after scoring a goal, Carter showed again how versatile he is.

And Minnesota doesn't always need to match the physicality of its opponents, and in fact, in some cases, an opponent's inability to get under the Wild's skin can frustrate them in turn. Troy Brouwer took an interference penalty early in the second period on Marco Scandella with the puck nowhere in the vicinity, and the Wild nearly scored on the ensuing power play.

"That's kind of part of it for us: The best response is no response," Zucker said. "They get more frustrated when that type of stuff happens, and they did start taking some penalties, and some penalties that were not necessary, but that's just the way it goes."

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