Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 2-1 loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning:
The Wild’s four-game winning streak was snapped tonight in a tight-checking game played by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Minnesota scored the game’s first goal off the stick of Zach Parise (more on that in a moment), but the Lightning struck twice in the second period and bottled up the neutral zone for the remainder of the game.
In the third, Tampa seemed satisfied to clog up the middle of the ice and not allow the Wild any traction in transition. The majority of Minnesota’s 12 shots in the final push came from the perimeter, as the Bolts bolted down the area in front of goaltender Ben Bishop.
The Wild has built a strange streak on the road of late. The team has skated to six-straight scoreless first periods away from Xcel Energy Center. Typically, a scoreless opening frame is considered a “good road period” and it was a good road period for Minnesota tonight. The Wild stuck with its game plan, didn’t get flustered, but was unable to generate offense against a stingy Tampa team.
It can’t be an easy road trip for Parise. The forward said that he’s playing for his father, JP, who is battling cancer, this season. The team invited their dads to join them on the Florida leg of the roadie, but unfortunately JP was unable to come on the trip. He was likely watching the game back in the State of Hockey as his son scored his seventh goal of the season in the second period in typical Parise workmanlike fashion.
The forward was a one-man forecheck, intercepting a breakout pass from Lightning defenseman Mark Barberio at the Tampa blue line. He then beat the blueliner and Bolts forward Alex Killorn to the loose puck and chipped it to Thomas Vanek, who was alone in front of Bishop. Vanek held the puck and patiently waited for Parise to bust to the net. Vanek slipped a pass onto the tape of Parise, who fired home his team-leading 13th point of the season.
Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos is a once-in-a-generation-type talent and because he plays in a non-traditional hockey market he’s often overlooked in the best-player-on-the-planet conversation. His combination of speed, skill and shooting ability makes him one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the National Hockey League. His numbers say it all: in 432 career games he has 247 goals for an average of .57 goals per game, which is insane. He’s scoring as often as the tide changes in Tampa Bay.
He scored a power play goal from the top of the right circle, firing a low laser wrister on the move. It was a goal he’ll never forget, because nearly as impressive as his goal-scoring prowess is his elephant-like memory. He can recall every goal that he’s ever scored. Ever. Thanks to Chad Graff from the Pioneer Press for showing me this video. Which is also insane.
The Wild had special visitors in the audience tonight, as the team’s fathers, brothers and mentors joined the road trip yesterday. It’s always interesting to see the family resemblance between father and son. Darcy Kuemper and Mikael Granlund are both younger versions of their dads, and you can really see where Ryan Carter gets his amazing Movember moustache.
During the morning skate, WildTV spoke to Charlie Dumba, Matt’s dad, and Christian Prosser, Nate’s father. Both were very proud and grateful that they could join and watch their sons in action tonight. However, Nate and Matt might’ve been even more happy and proud to talk about their dads, and the lessons of hard work that their dads instilled in them as youngsters. While we were interviewing Prosser, he joked that his father still gives him pointers, at which point, Christian chimed in from the sideline and said, “We’re going to work on his hand passing,” referencing his delay of game penalty in Philadelphia. The interaction was one of those father-son moments that truly showed the bond between men.
Tampa also was a destination for about 90 Wild supporters, participating in the team’s Fan Trip. After arriving in Florida yesterday, they took in the sites on a boat ride of Tampa’s bay. The fans attended the Wild’s morning skate and before the game socialized at Amalie Arena on the Bud Light Party Deck.
While the fans hung out prior to the game a surprise guest, Matt Cooke, who is sidelined with a lower-body injury and on the trip, joined them. When Parise scored the game’s opening goal, you could hear a loud cheer come from the Minnesota faithful. With the team trailing in the third period, Minnesota called timeout with 1:17 remaining and a “LET’S GO WILD!” chant started in the arena.