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 St. Louis Blues:
The story of the night, and of the Minnesota Wild’s second-half surge, was Devan Dubnyk. The netminder has given the team a chance to win in every start which is one of the reasons the club has been riding the 28-year-old. In his 28th consecutive start, the netminder made 41 saves, including 21 in the middle period. It was the most saves he’s made in a game with the Wild.
On the second night of a back-to-back, the Minnesota Wild entered into a building in which it hasn’t had much success and battled heavy legs for an important two points. Minnesota won in St. Louis in regulation for the first time since 2007. In its previous 13 trips to St. Louis, Minnesota was 4-7-2 with three shootout wins.
Much like the Wild, the goaltender didn’t have much success against the Blues, until tonight. Coming into the contest, Dubnyk was 0-7-0 with a 4.72 goals-against average and a .843 save percentage in seven career starts.
Dubnyk carried the load until the club somehow found its legs in the third period. Through two periods, it looked like the Blues had Minnesota on the ropes. But the club came back strong with a combination of blows, knocking out St. Louis with two goals in 17 seconds off the sticks of Nino Niederreiter and Kyle Brodziak.
Forward Thomas Vanek hit a big career milestone; his goal tonight was his 600th career NHL point. The forward found an opening and one-timed a pass from Justin Fontaine past Blues netminder Brian Elliot. It was an impressive goal because the one-timer came on his strong side and the Austrian was able to get enough mustard and height on the shot to put it past the netminder’s glove.
After a sluggish start in Minnesota, the high-scoring forward has turned it up of late. In his last four games, he has four goals and an assist. He ranks fourth on the club in goals (17) and third in points (44) this season.
It looked like a bad start for the Wild tonight, as the Blues appeared to have scored only 1:41 into the game. “Appeared” is the operative word in that sentence, because the puck never actually went into the net. Patrik Berglund tipped a point shot out of the air, tickling the twine and the officials on the ice signaled a goal. The referees convened for a moment and agreed that the puck wasn’t played with a high stick and called it a good goal. However, as they were trying to line up for a faceoff, the in-arena horn buzzed, signaling the refs that the play was being reviewed by the National Hockey League’s Situation Room. Upon further, further review, it was determined that the puck hit the outside of the net and never actually crossed the goal line.
Every NHL goal is reviewed in the Situation Room in Toronto and video replay has been extremely successful. The room is typically quick on the call and games aren’t slowed all that often because of reviews. Tonight was a great example of how well the replay system worked because hockey is such a fast game, occasionally the refs get the call on the ice wrong and the Situation Room has time to slow down the film and correct a mistake.
Of course, the previous Take was written during the game’s first intermission. Sure enough, during the second period the Wild had a goal taken away thanks to video replay. Zach Parise redirected a point shot by Jared Spurgeon, but the puck actually went in off his skate. As he was trying to get his stick on it, his skate moved forward in a kicking motion. Here’s the NHL’s explanation:
At 5:10 of the second period in the Minnesota Wild/St. Louis Blues game, video review determined that Zach Parise kicked the puck into the St. Louis net. According to Rule 49.2 "A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net." No goal Minnesota.
Parise can’t like decisions that have gone against him in St. Louis. Last season, he had a goal overturned because video replay determined he hit the puck with a high stick, too.
If you’ve followed hockey long enough, you often hear the term, “good road period.” But what are the defining characteristics of a good road period? Typically, they come on the second night of a back-to-back, when the road team has to play with heavy legs. A GRP is usually scoreless. Even if the road team gets outshot, it limits the home teams Grade-A chances. The road team limits its mistakes and doesn’t give its opponents any easy opportunities. Essentially, the aim of a GRP is to not get blown out in the early going of the game.
On the second night of a back-to-back against one of the elite teams in the NHL, the Wild played a classic GRP. The Wild was outshot, 11-5, in the opening frame, but kept the Blues out of the middle of the ice and prevented slot shots. Minnesota was smart with the puck and chipped the puck out of dangerous areas at the blue line. A GRP sets up a weary club for a chance to steal a win in the latter stages of the contest.