Following Wild games, Digital Media Coordinator Kelly Erickson will occasionally give the Five Takeaways that she remembers from the contest. Tonight, she looks back at a 4-2 win against the St. Louis Blues:
The Wild has had a knack for hanging with any opponent lately, and tonight it took down a Central Division foe who has had its number all season, the St. Louis Blues. In their fifth and final meeting of the regular season, the Wild topped the Blues 4-2, ending St. Louis’ undefeated streak against Minnesota at nine games. With the win, Minnesota has now toppled the no. 1 (Boston), no. 3 (St. Louis) and no. 5 (Pittsburgh) teams in the league in its last four games, over the last five days.
The Wild’s winning effort was largely due to John Curry’s 43-save night, in his Minnesota debut no less, which included some mind-bending, how-the-heck-did-he-do-that saves—including this one. Winner, winner chicken Curry dinner.
With the start, Curry became the fifth goaltender the Wild has started this season. Not only is he the fifth to start a game, he’s the fifth to start a game against Blues. Per Elias Sports Bureau, that makes Minnesota the first team to start five goalies against the same opponent in a single season since Los Angeles started five against Anaheim in 2007-08. The Shorewood native is also the 15th goaltender all-time to start a game in a Wild sweater, but the first Minnesotan to do so.
For the better part of the first half of the game it was clear these were two teams in the playoffs, intent on staying healthy. Neither side was going hard in the corners, battling along the boards and was avoiding checks left and right.
Then Mike Rupp was given a match penalty after a hit on TJ Oshie and the intensity kicked up about 20 notches—thanks, large in part to the constant exchange of penalties that took up the end of the second period. The flurry of man-advantages led to four goals, two of which were shorthanded.
Working with a 5-on-3 the Blues evened things up off the stick of Kevin Shattenkirk. Kyle Brodziak responded about 30 seconds later with a shorthanded goal (we’ll get to that). About three and half minutes later, it was tied once again as Jaden Schwartz scored a shorthanded goal of his own.
The Wild had the last word of the frame. As the power play expired, Dany Heatley fed Matt Moulson from behind the net, who one-timed it past Blues netminder Ryan Miller—giving the Wild a 3-2 lead at the second intermission. The goal was Moulson’s sixth since joining the Wild.
When all was said and done, the Wild and Blues accounted for 32 total PIM, 14 and 18, respectively.
On every hockey team there are your go-to scoring guys and your role players. Brodziak is a role player. He’s not looked upon to score every night. He’s there to shut down opposing top lines and grind them down—something he and his linemates have done a good job of lately.
Tonight was a bit of a different story. He was the hero, netting two goals to break a 17-game goalless streak.
On his first of the night, working on the penalty kill, Nate Prosser held the zone and threaded a pass down to Matt Cooke, who walked to the low slot and chipped the puck at Miller. Brodziak was trailing in through center and picked up the rebound. His celebration said it all as he gave a nice fist pump before bringing it in for a sweet embrace with Prosser and Cooke.
Brodziak got things going quickly in the third, scoring within the first minute of the period for a 4-2 lead. Defenseman Chrisitan Folin (we’ll get to him) sent a shot towards net from the blue line. It was blocked wide but bounced to Brodziak who was on the far side of the goal and simply chipped it into the open goal as Miller slide over too late.
Curry wasn’t the only player making his Wild debut tonight. Blueliner Christian Folin stepped in for his first NHL game and tallied his first career point on an assist on Brodziak’s second goal.
Folin jumped in on all aspects of the game tonight with time on the second power play unit and the penalty kill. Wild.com Managing Editor Mike Doyle—who often gives you his own Five Takeaways—endorsed his positioning on the PK and how quickly he was willing to get physical, at one point grabbing Alexander Steen after a whistle and exchanging a few words.
Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said after the game that the young Swede showed him something tonight and has a bright future.
The Wild signed Folin as free agent out of UMass Lowell on March 31 and after a week of practicing with the team, he finally made his debut. After morning skate, Folin noted that during his time with the team so far, he’s simply trying to be a sponge and soak up as much as possible.
Nino Niederreiter got things started for the Wild tonight. As Jon Blum wound and fired, Niederreiter sat near the far post and got just enough of his stick on the puck to deflect it in, giving the Wild a 1-0 lead at the time. The goal ended a six-game goal drought for right-winger. With the primary assist, Blum earned his first point with the Wild.
Prior to the goal though, Nino committed a rarely seen penalty, handling the puck. Along the wall, Niederreiter underhanded the puck like he was going for the win in a game of bags at a weekend tailgate.