Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Today, he'll look back at a 7-4 win in Dallas:
Now that was the definition of firewagon hockey. If you like goaltender duels and tight-checking defensive battles tonight’s contest wasn’t the game for you. But it sure was exciting to watch as a fan of back-and-forth, offensive hockey.
The Wild found a way to win, securing a victory in Dallas for the first time since 2003. The win also puts the Wild back on top of the Northwest Division and was the team’s sixth-straight of the season.
After falling behind in the first, 2-1, Minnesota responded with back-to-back three goal periods. Almost all the team’s goals tonight came in gritty ways with players going into hard areas and finishing off dirty goals.
“I love the way we’re scoring goals,” Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said after the game.
Tonight’s game was the team’s first seven-goal outing since an 8-4 win on April 10, 2009 against the Predators. The Last time the team scored seven on road was on Nov. 16, 2006 in a shootout win in Nashville.
The Wild’s top line, and particularly Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu, would not be denied tonight. As a unit, the line was tenacious on the forecheck, getting pucks in deep and sustaining pressure in the offensive zone.
When the two high-skill players are flying around the ice like they were tonight, and Charlie Coyle helping down low and along the walls winning battles, they are as dangerous as any trio in the league.
What you really have to like is the way that Parise and Koivu led the way in a barn that has been unkind to the Wild for the last decade. Three times the Stars took a lead on the Wild and all three times, Koivu or Parise responded with goals to even the game. Koivu finished with a goal and an assist, while Parise ended up with two goals and an assist…
Parise is an admitted baseball fan, more specifically a Minnesota Twins fan. After signing with the Wild in the summer, he showed off his pitching arm and threw out a ceremonial first pitch during a game. Tossing to Justin Morneau, Parise painted the corner from the mound at Target Field in front of the home faithful.
Tonight, he showed off his batting prowess, knocking the puck out of midair for his team-leading 13th goal of the season (his 14th would come in the second period on a rebound). After a scramble in front, the puck popped into the air and Parise swung and knocked it down. He then stayed with the play and pounded home the rebound. Not sure how we’d be able to judge his play in the field, picking up grounders or getting under pop flies, but my guess is he’s pretty good at that, too.
After going hard into the net in the first period, Cal Clutterbuck had to be helped off the ice and didn’t return for the remainder of the period. However, Clutterbuck returned to the ice and put forth a gutty effort, making two crucial third period plays to help secure the team’s victory.
After tying the score at four, the Stars looked like the momentum was swinging in its favor after Mike Rupp took a four-minute high sticking penalty. However, the Wild penalty killers went to work, starting with Clutterbuck. Clayton Stoner made a nice defensive play, stepping up and causing a Dallas turnover in the neutral zone and Clutterbuck picked up the puck and wheeled into the offensive zone. He fired a wrist shot off the arm of the Stars’ netminder and the puck bounced into the slot. Kyle Brodziak was going to the net and pushed home the team’s first shorthanded goal of the season.
Clutterbuck also assisted on Dany Heatley’s goal in the third period. Clutterbuck again went to the net and fired a couple of shots on Lehtonen before Heatley capped the play and hit the rebound home.
“It felt like things were not bouncing our way tonight, especially with the (history in Dallas),” Yeo said. “They found a way to win.
“We got contributions from a lot of guys.”
Matt Cullen reached another milestone tonight, scoring the 200th goal of his illustrious NHL career. The Virginia native became the ninth Minnesotan to reach the milestone, joining teammate Zach Parise, who hit the number earlier this season.
The goal came on a scramble on the right side of the Stars’ net. Cullen pulled the puck out of a forest of feet and snapped a quick wrister past a surprised Kari Lehtonen. Cullen continues to impress and added an assist on Parise’s first goal.
This season, the Dallas Stars are celebrating their 20th year in Dallas, after moving to the Lone Star State from Minnesota, by honoring the 20th Anniversary Team. Former Stars were voted onto the team by fans, as the best and most popular. Wild Assistant Coach Darryl Sydor was voted to the team and was honored tonight. Sydor dropped a ceremonial puck before the start of tonight’s contest.
Sydor is one of the Stars’ all-time great defensemen. In his accomplished career, he spent his best seasons skating for Dallas. He spent 10 seasons with the organization in three different stints. Sydor helped lead the Stars to the franchise’s lone Stanley Cup in 1999.