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Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways at Colorado

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild

Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 3-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche:

The atmosphere inside the Pepsi Center was elevated like a playoff game and it had nothing to do with Denver being a mile high. With a strong contingency of its own fans in the building, the Minnesota Wild took down its Central Division rival, Colorado Avalanche, in a heated, physical and emotional contest.

The fourth line of Erik Haula, Justin Fontaine and Kyle Brodziak paced the Wild for the second-straight game. The line combined for two goals and three assists. Again, line deserves its own Take, so more on them in a moment.

Jason Pominville, not known for playing an overtly physical game, was throwing the body around like Macho Man Rand Savage coming off the top rope. In the third period, we saw a more typical Pominville play, scoring his 13th goal on a pump-fake and top shelf shot.

Starting in his 20th consecutive game, goaltender Devan Dubnyk made 33 saves for his 15th win in a Wild sweater. The netminder played a feisty game himself, giving Avs forward Cody McLeod a good shot to the chest after Colorado’s only goal…

The Avs finally scored a goal after three consecutive shutouts by the Wild, and it was full of controversy. After Maxime Talbot dumped the puck in off the glass, it bounced around and fooled Dubnyk, but it looked like the netminder recovered to cover it with his right foot. However, Avs forward Cody McLeod bull rushed the netminder and bulldozed him into the net. The call on the ice was no goal, but it went under review and was overturned. Here’s what the League’s explanation:

At 1:32 of the second period in the Avalanche/Wild game, video review determined that the puck completely crossed the Minnesota goal line. Good goal Colorado.

There’s no denying the puck crossed the line, but exactly how it crossed the line is a different story. McLeod knocked Dubnyk back into the net, and last time I checked the goaltender is not fair game. So, I’m not sure how the NHL came to the conclusion that it was a “good” goal. Maybe they’ve legalized running the netminder in Colorado.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the first time in franchise history the Wild has shutout the same opponent in three consecutive meetings in a season, becoming the first NHL team since 2007-08 (Detroit vs. Colorado and San Jose vs. Arizona) to blank an opponent in three in a row. Too bad the streak had to end on a questionable play.

The Wild’s fourth line continues to provide a spark offensively. For the second-straight game, the line produced like a top offensive unit, chipping in with a pair of goals. Erik Haula’s emergence and adding Justin Fontaine into the mix with veteran Kyle Brodziak has been a huge lift for the fourth line.

The line has enough speed and skill to battle against the opponent’s top lines, while creating a matchup problem for other fourth lines. The unit forechecks well as a group and has been taking care of the puck in dangerous areas. All three have had an impact on the team’s penalty kill and have helped fuel the Wild’s resurgence. The trio has a little bit of edge in it as well. In the second period, Brodziak dropped the gloves with Nate Guenin. The Wild forward tried for an empty netter, but it was disallowed because it was played with a high stick. Still, a pretty impressive play as Brodziak knocked it out of midair from his own blue line and into the Colorado goal.

Minnesota defenseman Marco Scandella left the game midway through the second period and did not return. Today in the View From the Lighthouse blog, I touched on the emergence of the Wild’s bottom three defenseman, Matt Dumba, Nate Prosser and Christian Folin, without Jared Spurgeon in the lineup. Well, without Scandella they were again put to the test, but you also have to give credit to the Wild’s top pair, especially Jonas Brodin. The 21-year-old has elevated his game of late and has been chipping in offensively. Since Valentine’s Day, Brodin has five helpers and a plus-5 rating.

Tonight, after a Wild power play, he made a great heads-up play, which led to the team’s second goal. After taking the puck from Dubnyk, Brodin wheeled around the net and made an indirect pass off the boards to Haula in stride. It was the type of read and outlet pass you’d expect from a seasoned vet. Although he’s just legal to have a brew in the United States, he’s playing like a man who has been in the League for 10-plus seasons.

We’ve covered it here before, but the distaste in rivalries really kicks up a notch following a playoff series. After last season’s seven-game first round between the Wild and Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the clashes between the teams this season have been ramped up, like Spinal Tap turning the amps up from 10 to 11.

It was a physical affair right off the opening draw. The Avs earned a shootout win in Dallas last night, but came out of the gate hungry and hard. Colorado was credited with 10 hits in the first (compared to the Wild’s three, which seemed a little low) and the teams engaged in multiple small scrums. Zach Parise and Matt Duchene battled for positioning in the Avs zone for an entire shift and were seen yapping after the whistle. Charlie Coyle was going to the net and was knocked from behind by Avs defenseman Jan Hejda and the pair were barking at each other after some pushing and shoving. The bad blood only escalated as the game wore on and there was shoving after nearly every contested whistle.

On the final play of the game, McLeod ran Mikael Granlund on the faceoff, a completely unnecessary and shady move. Coyle stepped up and dropped the gloves with the Avs forward, and though it had no impact on the outcome of the contest, it sets up the next meeting nicely.

We’ll get one more and final tilt between the clubs in just over a week at Xcel Energy Center on March 8. If there’s still this much disdain from last season, the proximity of that game should make for an interesting matchup.

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