Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 3-0 win against the Calgary Flames at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Monday afternoon:
1. Welcome back, Joel Eriksson Ek.
After missing the past four games with an upper-body injury, Eriksson Ek re-joined the lineup on Monday and made his presence felt immediately.
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said Sunday that a lot of things Eriksson Ek does don't always show up in the boxscore ... well, this one did as he finished off a great feed by Kevin Fiala in front of the net, whipping a shot past Cam Talbot for his third goal of the season 4:51 into the second period.
Video: CGY@MIN: Eriksson Ek whips pass home to open scoring
It was a big goal on multiple fronts for the Wild. Calgary played last night in Dallas, and looked it in the first period. Minnesota rolled up a 10-7 edge in shots, but half of those came from prime scoring areas, with only Talbot -- who did not play against the Stars -- keeping the game scoreless.
The Wild badly needed a goal early in the second and Eriksson Ek provided it.
2. Speaking of needing a goal, Luke Kunin was rewarded for his strong start.
Of those half dozen grade-A chances in the first period, at least two came off the stick of the former Wisconsin Badger, who showed up Monday afternoon ready to play.
Video: CGY@MIN: Greenway, Kunin team up for sweet goal
Kunin's goal came from nearly the same spot as Eriksson Ek's right in front of the cage and came after some quality work by Jordan Greenway behind the goal, winning a puck battle then controlling it before feeding Kunin in front.
Quietly, Kunin now has nine goals in 37 games. That total has surpassed the eight career goals Kunin had in 68 games entering this season.
3. The Wild enters the holiday break feeling good about itself.
And it's easy to see why. After a disasterous 1-6-0 start to the season, Minnesota heads into Christmas three games above .500 and 17-9-5 since that start.
A 12-game point streak on home ice was snapped following an ugly 6-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday afternoon, but Minnesota did what all good teams do, bouncing back with a stellar effort of its own.
Goaltender Devan Dubnyk, making his first home start since Nov. 16, was rock solid in making all 22 saves and improving to 2-0 in two starts since a month-long layoff to deal with an off-ice medical issue relating to his wife, Jenn.