Friday Five: Top Performances of 2016-17
A look at five of the best individual performances by Wild players this past seasonby Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com
In today's Friday Five, Wild.com takes a look back at the top five individual performances from this past season:
Video: MIN@PIT: Dubnyk absorbs pressure on the penalty kill
5. Devan Dubnyk makes 39 saves in 4-2 win in Pittsburgh (Nov. 10, 2016)
Playing on the front end of a three-game road trip against Eastern Conference foes, the Wild began in arguably the toughest arena for visiting teams in the NHL: PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, home of the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Though the Penguins were undefeated in regulation at home until that point, the Wild got the best of them thanks to 39 saves from its goaltender, a number that would stand as a season high until the final weeks of the campaign.
Pittsburgh used a pair of power-play goals to grab separate one-goal leads, once in the first period and again in the second after Charlie Coyle had tied the game. Nino Niederreiter tied the game a second time midway through the middle period before Eric Staal gave the Wild the lead for good 2:56 into the third period.
Clinging to a one-goal advantage for a bulk of the final period, Dubnyk withstood a 16-shot barrage by the Penguins, turning away their every chance to nail down the victory.
4. Jason Pominville's four-point night, plus-3 at Winnipeg (Feb. 7, 2017)
During a red-hot stretch of February, Jason Pominville was one of the most consistent offensive performers in the NHL.
At the end of a four-game, nine-day road trip through Canada, Pominville came up big for the Wild, scoring two goals and assisting on two others as the Wild won 4-2.
It was the fourth time in Pominville's career that he tallied a four-point game and his first in a Wild uniform. It kickstarted a stretch of games in which the veteran winger scored two goals and eight assists over a four games en route to being named the NHL's First Star of the Week.
Video: MIN@WPG: Pominville rips home slapper after turnover
With the Wild leading 1-0 late in the first period, Pominville charged down the right wing after a turnover and ripped a slap shot through Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec to give the Wild a two-goal cushion.
Video: MIN@WPG: Pominville nets his second from tough angle
Less than three minutes into the second, Pominville beat Pavelec again, this time from a tough angle, to make it 3-0.
3. Chris Stewart's Gordie Howe Hat Trick on (home) Opening Night (Oct. 15, 2016)
Quick trivia question: Which Wild player scored Minnesota's first official goal at Xcel Energy Center this season? Mikael Granlund? Zach Parise? Nino Niederreiter?
If you guessed Chris Stewart, you've guessed correctly.
Video: WPG@MIN: Stewart puts home rebound off Ehlers' stick
After falling behind 2-0 to the Winnipeg Jets in the home opener, Stewart got the Wild on the board, popping a rebound of his own shot past Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson to get Minnesota within a goal.
It was the first leg of what would be the Wild's lone Gordie Howe hat trick of the season, one Stewart completed in the span of just 10:20 of the second period.
Just 58 seconds after his goal, Stewart had the first assist on a goal by Matt Dumba before dropping the mitts late in the period with Jets tough guy Chris Thorburn to complete the increasingly rare feat.
2. Mikael Granlund, hat trick and an assist, plus-4 in win at Vancouver (Feb. 4, 2017)
In the midst of a career season, Granlund had a career night, posting his first NHL hat trick and assisting on another goal in a 6-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks.
Video: MIN@VAN: Granlund secures his first career hat trick
His first goal, which came in the final seconds of the first period, extended his franchise-best points streak to 12 games, one that would be the second-longest in the NHL this season.
Granlund added a short-handed goal early in the second period before finishing off his three-goal night by poking a loose puck past Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller.
Video: MIN@VAN: Koivu taps in Granlund's feed at side of net
Perhaps his finest play of the night, however, was his helper, a pretty no-look pass to Mikko Koivu late in the second period that gave the Wild a three-goal advantage late in the frame.
1. Mikko Koivu, two goals (tying and winner) in win at San Jose (Jan. 5, 2017)
In the middle of arguably the most grueling part of its schedule, the Wild kicked off 2017 with a three-game road trip to the West Coast, beginning with a game against the defending Western Conference champion San Jose Sharks.
After a scoreless first period, things opened up a bit in the second. San Jose got goals from Joonas Donskoi and Joe Pavelski three minutes apart to take a two-goal lead.
Eric Staal scored late in the second and Zach Parise early in the third to get the game back to even before things really went off the rails.
Joel Ward and Patrick Marleau followed with goals 32 seconds apart for the Sharks, with Ward's less than two minutes after Parise's initial tying goal.
The two-goal lead for San Jose was short-lived. Staal talled his second of the night 45 seconds after Marleau made it 4-2 before Koivu took things over late, scoring a pair of goals in a span of 1:55 to turn a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead.
Video: MIN@SJS: Koivu ties game, scores go-ahead goal in 3rd
Koivu's winner was a thing of beauty, as the Wild's captain finished off a nifty display of passing by camping out at the right faceoff dot and one-timing a great feed from Granlund.
An honorable mention goes to Staal, who scored two goals and an assist, and Parise, who had one goal and two assists.