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 win against the Washington Capitals:
Winter storm conditions in the D.C. area shut down the federal government today, while the Minnesota Wild plowed its way to comeback victory with Jason Pominville leading the way.
In the third, the Wild was pelting the Caps net like a blizzard. Much like the effort that finally got the club on the board, the Wild never game up. On the play that tied the game, Pominville went to the net with Ryan Suter shooting a shot into Capitals netminder Braden Holtby’s pads. Pominville went to the crease and was tangled up with Caps wing, Jason Chimera. The Wild forward lost his stick as Chimera tripped over it. However, he stuck with the play, picked up his twig off the ice and jammed it through Holtby’s legs.
Zach Parise’s dogged work led to the team’s second goal of the period. The forward hounded Capitals defenseman Mike Green into making a bad pass at his own blue line. Then Parise outraced him to the puck and tipped it to Pominville, who did the rest. The righty opened up on the left side, wound up and hammered a slap shot past Holtby’s glove for his 15th of the year and the winner. It was the 22nd multi-goal game of his career.
The Caps are nearly unbeatable when it scores the first goal of the game. The key word in that previous sentence: nearly. Coming into tonight, Washington was 30-1-4 when scoring first. To give you some context about how important it is for the club to get on the board, the Caps have 36 wins on the year.
For the Wild, it was the team’s sixth win on the season when trailing after two periods and its fifth straight road win. After playing poorly away from the State of Hockey earlier in the season, Minnesota moves to 17-14-2 on the road. The club also moved into the first wild card spot in the Western Conference with the victory, jumping over Central Division rival, the Winnipeg Jets. Minnesota has a game in hand against the Jets and more regulation plus overtime wins (ROW).
Not breaking news: Suter makes crisp outlet passes. The defenseman is one of the best in the National Hockey League at snapping passes from the backend to streaking forwards in stride.
Often, his cross-ice passes are to forwards two zones away and find their way past opponents’ sticks and bodies. The reason he’s able to move the puck by, and often through, tight areas: he puts a lot of steam on his passes. The blueliner might not have the heaviest shot amongst the NHL’s elite defenseman, but he might be the League’s hardest passer. In the second period, he knocked the stick clean out of the hand of Capitals forward Marcus Johansson with one of his laser passes.
Forward Nino Niederreiter was a late scratch tonight as a precautionary move as he was feeling some discomfort with a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day. In his place, Jordan Schroeder entered the lineup.
The Caps were missing a prominent goal scorer, arguably the hottest forward in the League, Alex Ovechkin, who sat out tonight because of a lower-body injury. The forward has leads the NHL with 43 goals this season and was tied with his linemate, Nicklas Backstrom, for the league lead in points (67). One of the cool things about visiting each town in the NHL is getting a chance to see the superstars in the Eastern Conference. However, I think most Wild fans were okay with missing out on a chance to see Ovechkin play tonight. I had an excited fan moment tonight when I thought I saw Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips lead singer, Google him, kids) in the press box today, but it turns out it was actually Ovechkin with grown out and greying flow.
There were quite a few empty seats at Verizon Center here in Washington D.C. because the area was under a winter storm warning today. Snowmageddon shut down the federal government and the city streets, in the typically busy district, were barren because of the weather.
For the morning commute to the rink, it was actually quite nice because the team bus cruised through D.C. without the traffic. Viewing the sights out of the bus window was a peaceful experience; the American Flags were waving because of the winds swirling around the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. Of course, there were several nods to America throughout the night, with the Caps honoring veterans on several occasions, including a performance of the National Anthem by the U.S. Army Band Quartet. It’s easy to get patriotic in the Nation’s Capital and the red, white and blue running throughout the arena and Washington D.C. evokes strong feelings of love for America.