Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 5-4 overtime win against the Dallas Stars:
The Minnesota Wild’s overtime win in Dallas had a wider range of emotions than a dysfunctional family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Things started out pleasantly as Minnesota set the table and had a helping of first period goals. The Wild went for seconds, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the middle frame, and it looked like it would be a smooth holiday feast. But the tryptophan kicked in and Dallas, like a belligerent drunken uncle, looked like it would spoil everything, scoring four unanswered goals. However, Thomas Vanek served up some hot coffee late in the third to send the game into overtime. Vanek then helped dish up dessert, with the drunken uncle taking a snooze, and Marco Scandella to win it in overtime.
The goal was Scandella’s third game winner of the year and second in OT. Like the family member who sacks up and drives home the drunken uncle, the blueliner is clutch.
After getting pulled after the first period in the team’s last outing against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, Darcy Kuemper was back in goal for Minnesota. He would face adversity again, allowing three goals in the second period only 3:31 apart. However, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo stuck with Kuemper and the goaltender responded. Between periods, he found the tourniquet the team needed and made 19 saves in the third.
The Wild has now won three-straight against he Stars for the first time in franchise history. It also has won two-consecutive in Dallas for the first time ever.
After watching his Becoming Wild episode, presented by Toyota, we know Nino Niederreiter is a big fan of tennis. The Swiss are also known for skiing, and judging by his opening period goal, it looks like Niederreiter played a little football growing up, too. Niederreiter was in the slot and Vanek threw a bullet pass to him from the left boards. However, it was a little in front of him and Niederreiter had to knock it down with his right foot like Xherdan Shaqiri, before whipping a quick wrister past Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen.
Niederreiter has scored early and often this season. He has scored the Wild’s first goal five times this season and has scored first for the team three times in the last six games, including tonight’s game. Tonight’s tally was his team-leading 11th goal of the year.
When the goaltender comes out and cuts down a shooter’s angle, the shooter has a few options: he can try to squeeze a shot through a miniscule hole, look to pass, hold on for a better angle, or throw it on net and hope for a rebound.
Late in the second period, Nate Prosser led the rush into the offensive zone and went with the final option, throwing a soft wrist shot into the pads of Lehtonen. It was the correct decision. The puck rebounded off Lehtonen’s pads and bounced right into the slot. Forward Jason Zucker, who was busting to the slot, chipped a backhand past the netminder, who was out of position after cutting down Prosser’s angle. Watching the replay, it was apparent that Prosser was not shooting to score, rather to put it into the netminder’s pads for a rebound. It worked like a charm; a perfectly placed puck off the pad from Prosser.
Defenseman Jonas Brodin was activated from Injured Reserve and re-entered the lineup tonight after missing the previous seven games with an illness. Despite missing two and a half weeks, there was no easing Brodin back into game action. The blueliner skated 22:38 tonight, two while shorthanded, earned a plus-2 rating, blocked two shots and fired one on net.
The defenseman has two things going for him when coming back from a long layoff: he’s young and he’s a great skater. I’m not a doctor, but it’s a lot easier to recover from injury/illness when you’re younger. Also, it will still take Brodin a game or two to get his game legs back, but it’s a lot easier for fluid skaters to get them than those who are not as fleet of foot.
I typically don’t travel with the team when it plays back-to-back away/home games, so I worked from the comfort of my living room tonight. Sometimes it’s good to change things up, so I watched on the NHL Gamecenter Live app (stick tap to Kelly Erickson for running @mnwildLIVE). The home team feed comes up automatically on the app, so I decided to listen to the Stars’ play-by-play man, Ralph Strangis, and color commentator, Daryl Reaugh, one of the most revered local television duos around the League.
After the first period, the broadcasters were critical of the Stars and Reaugh quipped, “Blame it on the turkey legs.” My favorite exchange came in the first period as the ice-level microphones picked up Mikko Koivu heading to the box after getting called for interference. As the captain skated by the ref, you could hear him say, “Yeah, I picked him.” Both Strangis and Reaugh heard the interaction and had a laugh about it saying he must’ve known it was a penalty because typically there’s a little bit of an argument and not an agreement.
Hopefully you didn’t take too long to grab a cold beverage between the third period and overtime because you might’ve noticed the extra period started a little quicker than earlier this season. To start the year, Zambonis cleaned the ice with a “dry scrape” in the hopes to improve play. However, the NHL’s general managers decided the process was taking too long at their annual November meeting on Nov. 11. The term dry scrape can now be retired from hockey’s lexicon along with glow puck, clean headshot and celly. Oh, wait, we’re still using celly? Well, maybe at the next GM meetings.
Bonus, Bonus Take
Speaking of cellies, Mikael Granlund scored his third of the season. Coincidentally, all of his goals have come against the Stars. Same coincidence goes for Vanek, who scored his second of the year. Hopefully their next goals come before their next game against the Stars, but regardless they both have Saturday, Jan. 3 and Sunday, Feb. 22 circled on their calendars.