Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he'll remember from a 6-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche:
Minnesota has talked about getting out to fast starts recently and tonight it executed, outshooting the Avs, 14-8. More importantly, it was able to capitalize on its chances, scoring four goals in the opening frame. That might’ve been the most entertaining period of the season, as it had a little bit of everything. The Wild scored the first goal of the contest for the seventh straight game. According to Elias, it matches franchise record (twice before, last 10/10-10/24/07).
Along with the scoring it was a very physical opening period, as it seemed like some bad blood carried over from Thursday night’s game. The teams combined for 30 minutes in penalties including two fights (Justin Falk and Mike Rupp). After the tone was set in the first, the game settled down with only a combined two minutes for the rest of the game.
Hockey is a funny game, one that has the ability to be impacted by momentum maybe more than any other sport. After a huge offensive explosion in the first period from the Wild, it looked like the club would roll to an easy victory. However, the Avs came back strong in the second period, scoring twice. It looked like all the momentum was cascading for Colorado like an, um, Avalanche.
Just when things were starting to look a little bleak for Wild fans, Pierre-Marc Bouchard did a very Pierre-Marc Bouchard thing. He walked in on the right side of the net and absolutely roofed a backhand past Varlamov’s glove.
Bouchard helped put the game on ice in the third, too. He crossed the blue line on the right hand side, opened up to his forehand and put on the breaks. He waited for the play to open up and found a streaking Devin Setoguchi for his second goal of the game…
Setoguchi had a three-point night for the ninth time of his career. He also recorded a career-high plus-4 rating. Both of Setoguchi’s goals were beauties. In the first period he took a pass from Matt Cullen in the high slot and blew a wrist shot past Jean-Sebastien Giguere high to the glove side.
On his second, he showed the patience and poise of a goal scorer. After taking a pinpoint pass from Bouchard, Setoguchi was wide open streaking down the middle of the slot. Instead of trying to fire a one-timer, he collected the puck and picked up his head. He faked like he was going to snap a wrister, waited for Semyon Varlamov to move and slipped the puck through his legs. When Setoguchi is firing the puck and using his speed he is a dangerous goal scorer, and he’s been doing it more consistently of late.
The Wild’s offense was balanced tonight, as Bouchard and Setoguchi were not the only ones with multiple-point games. Ryan Suter (1-1=2) and Dany Heatley (two assists) both had two-point nights. In total, 11 members of the recorded a point.
With his two-point night, Suter took over the team’s scoring lead. The defenseman doesn’t have the hardest shot in the league, but he puts it on net and in places where forwards can tip or pick up rebounds. However, he leaned into a one-timer on his first-period power play goal that gave Giguere no chance to save.
Mixed into the green from St. Patrick’s Day revelers was a little imported Forrest Green from Minnesota. More than 60 season ticket holders were in Denver to cheer on the Wild for the annual road trip and they picked an entertaining game to see. The crew has a full day planned tomorrow, a walking tour of Colorado breweries and will return to the State of Hockey on Monday. WildTV talked to a few of the season ticket holders about following the team on the road.
Stick tap to all of the Wild’s fan relations team who are on the trip and chaperoning the group. Have fun in Denver and don’t drink too many St. Patrick’s Day green beers—remember you’re at altitude.
If you’ve been following the Five Takeaways this season, you’ll know that I’m a fan of in-arena commentary. In Calgary, I wrote about a large dancer who stripped off jerseys and shirts during stoppages. Well, apparently this is his full-time job because he was in Denver tonight b-bopping and foot stomping. Game ops take notice: we need this guy busting moves at Xcel Energy Center.