Following Wild games, Managing Editor Glen Andresen will give the five takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Tonight,he shares his five takeaways from a 5-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks.
There are some themes developing in this rager of a Minnesota Wild season, and they continued to show up in the Minnesota Wild’s 5-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. For the third straight road game, the Wild spotted the team two goals and then methodically worked their way back for another huge victory and another surge to the top of the NHL standings.
The other ongoing theme was contributions from every player and every line. Dany Heatley
, Casey Wellman, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, Nick Johnson
and Cal Clutterbuck
were the goal scorers on this night. Josh Harding
was brilliant when he had to be. And the team responded when pushed.
“Similar story,” said Head Coach Mike Yeo, who is quickly making himself an early frontrunner for Coach of the Year. “We’ve got a group of guys that are not going to quit, not going to give up and look for excuses or wait for another day. They know there’s plenty of hockey left. I think one thing we can really credit our success with is we try not to get wrapped up in the score.”
Yeo said it just takes one big play to get back into a game, and he singled out Heatley’s power play tally with just three seconds left in the first period. It came on a 5-on-3 power play and Minnesota trailing by a pair. After a few passing plays didn’t work, Heatley gathered the puck at the top of the slot and said something to the effect of “To hell with this” before crushing a slap shot past Jonas Hiller and under the cross bar.
Not all of Heatley’s goals have been game-winners, but the majority of them have come in huge situations. And all eight have come in Wild victories.
There were several moments that could be singled out as the point where the Wild seized control of the momentum. One that didn’t get talked about much but could very well have been a factor was possibly one that Brad Staubitz would like to forget.
Down 2-0, Staubitz looked to get his team fired up and dropped his gloves with the much bigger Jean-Francois Jacques. It was pretty clear that this decision went to Jacques, but Staubitz never backed down and fought valiantly. As always, his teammates loved the willingness to sacrifice, and from that point on, the Wild dominated the Ducks for the better part of the next 30 minutes.
I never had the pleasure of watching Casey Wellman play when he wore the maroon and white of the UMass-Amherst Minutemen. But judging by his speed, his talent and the number of teams that were clamoring to sign him as a college free agent, I imagine he scored quite a few pretty goals against Hockey East competition.
He hasn’t scored many goals like that this year in Houston, or in the last two games with the Wild. And that’s exactly what Yeo wants. Considering the skill level of his linemates the last two games – Bouchard and Matt Cullen
– Wellman is needed in the dirty areas like the top of the crease. That’s where both of his NHL goals this season have come from, and that’s where Yeo wants him to continue to go.
What has made Yeo happiest about Wellman is not the two goals, but the way Wellman has played with and without the puck. He was great defensively. He drew a penalty because of his speed. He’s doing the things it takes to be an NHL player.
Of course, pretty goals count the same as ugly ones. But let’s leave those to the master that some like to call “Butch.” Less than a minute after assisting on Wellman’s goal with a ridiculous saucer pass, Bouchard did the work himself for his goal.
While crossing the Anaheim blueline, he gloved a high Cullen pass, fought off a check and then fired off a ridiculous no-look backhand to the far side that stunned Hiller. Really, it stunned everybody.
Bouchard does things with the puck that aren’t supposed to be done. Lately, you can see he’s been feeling it as well. I’m not in the business of making predictions, but I’ve got a feeling we’re going to be seeing a long stretch of upcoming games with points coming from number 96.