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Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 5, Stars 1

Minnesota concludes preseason docket with win over Dallas

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Saturday night:

1. The contest marked the conclusion of the Wild's exhibition schedule, with the regular season commencing in five days against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena.

All in all, a solid preseason for Minnesota, which finished 5-2-0 in seven exhibition games and 3-0-0 on home ice. 

"Been ready for two weeks for [the regular season] to start," said Wild forward Eric Staal. "The longer I think you've played, sometimes the grindier it gets in training camp. But we all know what it's about when it starts game one. It's about building and making sure your body's prepared to go for when it counts. I think our guys are excited for taking a day to recover tomorrow and then really get some good pace going for practice and be chomping on the bit to start game one."

Not sure if "grindier" is a word, but it is a great way to describe how unpleasant the exhibition season can be at the tail end, especially when the games that count are less than a week away. 

"Preseason always ends up feeling a little bit long," said Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk. "It was good to get everybody together, and I thought we really picked it up for these last two periods. As much as it doesn't matter, the results don't matter in the preseason, it's always nice to have a good feeling going into next week."

Among the most positive developments has been the steady play of Dubnyk, who made 27 saves on Saturday and finished the preseason with a 3-0-0 record. He allowed a total of four goals in his three starts.

"It's nice to feel good and I've been able to do that," Dubnyk said. "It doesn't matter at the end of the day, but it's important to get that time to feel good about your game, and understand that the pace is going to pick up come Thursday, but it's nice to get in there and feel in control."

2. Charlie Coyle and his new (and former) linemates continued to build momentum and build on their familiarity.

Coyle started the exhibition season pencilled onto the Wild's third line with Marcus Foligno and Joel Eriksson Ek.

But Wild coach Bruce Boudreau had an inkling in Kansas City on Thursday that he may be inclined to move Coyle up to the Nino Niederreiter-Eric Staal pairing at some point early in the year, so he figured there was no time like the present.

That night, Coyle finished the game on that line and scored the game-winning goal with 4.3 seconds remaining in regulation.

On Saturday, he continued his fantastic preseason and camp by finishing an outstanding cross-rink feed from Staal and slipping a shot between Ben Bishop and the nearside post.

The goal was Coyle's third of the preseason, while Staal and Niederreiter each collected their first assists.

Video: Bruce Boudreau Postgame vs. Stars

"They picked it up in the second and third periods," Boudreau said. "You know, it's a big line, and it's a strong line, and they get going together, it's pretty hard to stop them. I thought they played well."

Staal was just getting started, however.

The veteran centerman scored on a goal moments in to the third to make it 3-0, then added the dagger with under six minutes to play on a short-handed tally. 

"The chemistry felt like it was there pretty quickly. I think Nino, myself and Charlie know each other's game," Staal said. "I think we can be an effective line if that's our plan going forward. It was nice to get some good vibes going today but we all know it doesn't count and we look forward to Thursday and being excited about game one."

3. For most of last season, it was the line of Jason Zucker, Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund that powered the Wild offense. They got things started on Saturday.

After a scoreless first period, it took the line all of 90 seconds to get the Wild on the board in the second. Some great work along the wall by Koivu got the puck to Zucker behind the goal. Koivu spun toward the right circle, collected a return feed from Zucker and ripped a quick shot through Stars goaltender Ben Bishop for a 1-0 lead. 

While of line shuffling and juggling has occurred during the preseason, the one constant -- just like last year -- has been Zucker, Koivu and Granlund. If Thursday's game against St. Louis and Saturday's win over the Stars is any indication, the group seems headed into the regular season on the right foot. 

"I think we recognize that, if we play the right way, meaning like getting pucks behind their D and working as a unit of five, getting our forecheck going and being responsible defensively all over the ice, that brings us success and that was good to see that we were able to do that," Koivu said.

Video: Wild Postgame vs. Dallas 


Loose Pucks

Jared Spurgeon finished with three assists. 

• Niederreiter and Coyle each had a two-point night.

• Bishop finished with 19 saves on 24 shots.

• Minnesota finished 1-for-4 on the power play, as Marcus Foligno buried his second goal of the preseason with 1:33 remaining in regulation.

• The Wild killed all four Dallas power plays.


He Said It

"Thank God it's over." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau on the preseason reaching its conclusion


Three Stars

* Eric Staal 

** Charlie Coyle

*** Devan Dubnyk

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