Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 6-0 win against the New York Islanders:
Sometimes, a change will do you good.
The Wild switched up its forward lines and the moves worked, posting a season-high six goals. In his first trip back to Long Island, Matt Moulson scored twice and added an assist. Both his goals came from where he does the most damage: around the net. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that he wanted his team to get more chances closer to the net and they came through tonight. Actually, Moulson’s two rebound goals were the only dirty tallies, as the rest of the team’s goals were all beauties. Jared Spurgeon and Mikael Granlund scored on one-timers, Justin Fontaine scored on a snipe off the post — it was in so quickly the refs had to review it later and call it a goal — and Clayton Stoner scored on a breakaway.
Wild captain Mikko Koivu added three assists (127-311=438) to pass Marian Gaborik (219-218=437) for the all-time points lead in franchise history. Koivu has been a bit unlucky since returning from an ankle injury, but broke out of it in a big way tonight. Tonight he centered Moulson and Fontaine, and the line looked like it found its grove offensively.
Not quite lost in the goal-scoring frenzy was Ilya Bryzgalov’s first win and first shutout in a Wild uniform. Tonight, he showed why the Wild acquired him the day before the Trade Deadline, making saves early when the Isles were pressuring. Bryzgalov made 16 first period saves on his way to 36 and the game’s Second Star.
Two former Islanders, Nino Niederreiter and Moulson, made their return visits to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Niederreiter was acquired from New York the day of the NHL Entry Draft in exchange for Cal Clutterbuck and a fourth-round pick. Meanwhile, Moulson was first dealt from the Isles to the Buffalo Sabres earlier in the season before Minnesota made a move for him on Trade Deadline Day.
It was interesting to see the different reactions from fans towards each player. Moulson got a warm reception when he was announced as a part of the starting lineup and some fans stood when the team thanked him on the video board. The crowd actually cheered when he scored his second goal of the game and then started a “We want Moulson!” chant in the third period. Niederreiter, on the other hand, was booed whenever he came close to the puck and the crowd was sparse enough that you could hear some uncouth language directed at him…
It was get-back-at-your-ex night here in Long Island, with both Moulson (2-1=3) and Niederreiter (1 assist) getting points. Another player who was once in the Islanders organization, Spurgeon, did damage against the team that drafted him in the sixth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Spurgeon scored his fourth goal of the season on an absolute laser in the first period. Niederreiter cut across the blue line and moved the puck to Dany Heatley, who held up and dropped a pass to Spurgeon jumping up in the play. Spurgeon wired a one-timer into the top corner.
The Wild signed Spurgeon as a free agent in 2010 after the Islanders failed to sign him to an entry-level deal. Listed at 5-foot-9, 168-pounds, Spurgeon might be undersized, but what he lacks in bulk, he more than makes up for in smarts and poise. The move has worked out well for both Spurgeon and the Wild; in the four seasons with the club, he has become a cog on the blue line and is on the top pair alongside Ryan Suter. Spurgeon loves to jump into the play and usually picks the right time to join the offense, like he did tonight. He was also a plus-4 on the night. Not too shabby for a guy the Isles didn’t want.
Jason Pominville extended his point streak to six games tonight in a little bit of a role reversal with his pal, Mikael Granlund. We’ve come to see a lot of Granlund/Pominville hookups this season, but typically it’s the center feeding the wing. Tonight, Pominville returned the favor, setting up Granlund for his seventh goal of the season.
Pominville set up behind the New York net, in the area appropriately dubbed, “Wayne Gretzky’s Office.” He bought some time, found a seam and fed Granlund, who one-timed home a rocket past Isle’s goaltender Anders Nilsson’s glove. Granlund is a pass-first center, but has been looking to shoot more and more lately, which has actually opened up more passing lanes.
Taking a penalty stinks. You’re in the box by yourself for two minutes and your team is shorthanded. When you’re in the box, you have plenty of time to think about the penalty, while you pray the opposing team doesn’t score and the clock moves slower than a sloth in a molasses hot tub. If the puck is in your end as time winds down, a glimmer of hope starts to peek into your brain. “Maybe I’ll get a breakaway,” you think to yourself. Typically, it never happens this way.
However, tonight for Clayton Stoner, it did happen. Koivu picked off an Islanders pass at the moment time expired on Stoner’s penalty. The Wild captain hit him in stride and sent the blueliner in alone on a breakaway with Calvin de Haan bearing down on him. Stoner pulled a quick forehand-backhand move and then tucked it over an outstretched Nilsson like a boss. Thank to @cjzero for this amazing GIF.