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First Goal Elusive for Wild Early in Season

All three victories have come after surrendering opening marker

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

NEWARK, N.J. -- For the third time in four games, the Minnesota Wild allowed the first goal yet still earned the victory.

It's not a habit the Wild want to get into.

The three wins when allowing the first goal are just two fewer than the Wild had all of last season, when it finished with five -- the fewest in the NHL. Minnesota was 5-25-6 overall when allowing the first goal in 2015-16.

Video: Wild on Scoring First in New Jersey


Half of the League does not yet have a single victory when allowing the opponent to score first.

"You never want to allow the first goal," said Wild forward Charlie Coyle. "It's nice to show that resiliency and never-quit attitude. That's good. And there's going to be games like that, it's not going to be a perfect game all the time. But we want to jump out and have better starts."

One key to the Wild's comeback success has been quickly answering the first score with a goal of its own. 

In the home opener against Winnipeg, the Jets scored the first two goals in the final minute of the first period, but Minnesota answered with goals 58 seconds apart early in the second to tie the game. The Wild went on to win 4-3.

A few nights later against Los Angeles, the Kings scored 50 seconds into the game, only to see the Wild claw back with a goal on the very next shift. Minnesota won 6-3.

"Scoring the first goal, I think that will come, but just having the right mindset and being prepared," Coyle said. "Preparation is huge, and just being able to come out and battle right away and play the right way right off the hop. That's going to get us the lead more times than not, and it's going to get us to play a more well-rounded game from start to finish."

On Thursday, Auston Matthews opened scoring at 9:13 of the second period for Toronto, but Eric Staal tied the game on a breakaway goal 56 seconds after. A pair of third-period goals lifted the Wild to an eventual 3-2 victory.

"The big thing is coming back," Staal said Thursday. "I really like how we responded in the third period. There's different ways to go about it down by one, but we came out ready to go in the third period and I thought, got some big plays, some big saves and we were able to cash one in." 

As the Wild begins a four-game, all-Eastern Conference road trip Saturday against the New Jersey Devils, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said scoring first is the objective, but not the end-all.

It's also about having a good attitude if the other team does score first.

"We'd like to score the first goal," Boudreau said. "I mean, it's not like we haven't had chances before the other team. Except for the last game, I thought we've had chances to score the first goal, we just haven't done it. As long as we don't hang our heads and think the game is over when it happens, I think there's always chances to come back."

Haula, Spurgeon not on the ice Friday

Both Erik Haula and Jared Spurgeon did not practice with the team at Prudential Center on Friday afternoon. Boudreau did not reveal whether either or both will be available against the Devils here on Saturday. 

Haula was given a maintenance day. Spurgeon sustained an upper-body injury in the win Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Boudreau said after the game that Spurgeon was day-to-day.

Marco Scandella practiced with the team after missing Thursday night's game.

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