Following Wild games, Managing Editor Glen Andresen will give the five takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-3 win against the Avalanche in Denver.
Minnesota Wild Head Coach Todd Richards knew his team had an opportunity to jump on a team that had its Tuesday game in St. Louis postponed and hadn’t played a game in more than a week. It appeared the Minnesota Wild took advantage, winning 4-3 after scoring two goals in the first 61 seconds of the game. It could have been 3-0 in the first 90 seconds if not for a huge Craig Anderson save on a lone Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Had Bouchard padded the lead at that point, the stunned crowd at the Pop Can might as well have gone outside and started shoveling. As it was, the Avs began to fight and made the Wild work hard for yet another victory, which was sealed by Bouchard midway through the third. But with the way the Wild is playing from the goal on out, it’s going to take a monster effort from any team to beat this confident bunch.
Now in the seventh position in the Western Conference, the focus shouldn’t be just a playoff spot. Right now, the Wild is just two points out of the top four. Kyle Brodziak
put the Wild on the board after 33 seconds. Andrew Brunette, playing in his 1,001st game, stuffed one past Anderson 28 seconds later and according to Elias Sports Bureau the Wild had the fastest two goals to start a game in franchise history…by far. The old mark was set just a few weeks ago on January 18 in Edmonton, when Matt Cullen
and Brent Burns picked up goals in the first 3:25.
Richards seems to have this team ready to play from the opening drop every night, but especially in Denver. In the last five games in Colorado, the Wild has outscored the Avs in the first period, 7-2.
In honor of his 1,000th game on Tuesday, it would have been nice if Andrew Brunette was named one of the stars of the game so he could give the fans one more chance to applaud him. With two goals against his former team, he made it impossible to not be honored as the number one star tonight.
As he’s done throughout his career, Brunette scored his two goals from the top of the crease. But his second tally was one that would have been on the Top Tean Brunette plays
on Wild.com had it happened last week.
With his back to the net, Brunette got a pass from up high by Mikko Koivu
. Rather than just spinning around, Bruno slyly tucked the puck between his legs and put the shot on from in tight. Anderson made the initial stop, but Brunette whacked in the rebound for his 18th career two-goal game.
When Bouchard returned to the lineup back on December 1st, we were cautioned that it would take him awhile to find his game after essentially not playing for 18 months. There was probably some questions in a lot of minds that even though he was returning, would he ever be the same? And would his return even matter? After all, the common thinking at that point of the season was the Wild needs more goal scorers, not more playmakers.
Since Bouchard’s return, the Wild is 16-9-3. And he has become one of the more clutch players on the team. Tonight, he scored the game winner.
The first half of the third period was completely dominated by a desperate Colorado team. Only Jose Theodore’s brilliance was keeping the Wild in the lead. Minnesota went 11 minutes without a shot until Havlat fired one from the slot, and Butch deftly tucked in the rebound.
Of his five goals, four have come in the third period. One tied a game against Phoenix in the final minute and forced overtime, which the Wild won. Another squashed the momentum of the Edmonton Oilers in that aforementioned game on January 18. Another provided a huge insurance marker in a big win in Chicago. Though it didn’t count, we saw his wizardry in scoring the only goal of Tuesday’s shootout. And then there was tonight.
Watching the Wild beat the Avs is an extremely gratifying feeling. After some of the shenanigans in previous meetings this season, and after watching guys like Adam Foote run Wild players into the backboards well after a play is blown dead, and after watching Cody McLeod yammer with that toothless mouth of his, you start getting invested in the game.
This game didn’t get out of control like the Boston-Dallas game earlier in the night, but there was definitely plenty of roughhousing. The Wild showed once again that they won’t back down from Avs players. Guys like Brent Burns, Mikko Koivu
and Martin Havlat were getting their noses dirty.
Of course, as Richards pointed out before a previous contest with the Avs, “we’re no angels, either.” And yes, the Wild players have done some talking, but they are backing it up big time.