Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he'll remember from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-3 overtime loss to Anaheim:
For the first time in the organization’s history, the Wild went beyond regulation in the opening two games of the season. But once again, it was not the result that the team envisioned as Mathieu Perreault slipped in alone on Niklas Backstrom and slid the puck through the netminder’s legs for the game winner.
The Ducks got off to a quick start, scoring twice in the first six minutes of the game and established a 3-1 lead early in the second period. However, the Wild came roaring back with the power play (we’ll get to those in a moment) and eventually tied the game forcing overtime.
“Good to battle back and get a point, but we’re not happy with the way it went,” Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said after the game.
The Wild has transformed into a puck possession team and, while we saw it in glimpses, it looks like it will be an exciting season. With two points in opening weekend, and not the ideal outcomes, the wins will come if the team continues to play like it has in stretches and starts putting together complete games, which I believe it will.
A bad sign, Charlie Coyle left the game and did not return for the third period. The center suffered a lower-body injury. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said, “I don’t think it’s gravely serious” but doesn’t expect him to be in the lineup in the team’s next game in Nashville.
In the Wild’s first outing, it was Generation Y-LD (still looking for a name but that’s pretty, pretty good) power play unit that did the damage. Tonight, we saw the first unit go to work and how much skill they have. The unit scored twice, first on a bang-bang play. Ryan Suter fired the puck at the net, and it caromed off the boards to Mikko Koivu. The Wild captain corralled the puck and made a pinpoint, no-look pass right on the tape of Zach Parise, who buried a one-timer.
In the second period, Jason Pominville showed why he is running the point on the unit. A faceoff came back to Pominville stationed on the left side. He settled the puck and wound up for a slapper that beat Hiller through the five-hole.
The unit looks like it is really starting to jell, Dany Healtey rang the post in the third, and the puck movement between the highly skilled quintuplet is a thing of beauty. Best part of the power play chances tonight, no one started in with the “Shoooooooot!” chants. I guess everyone who went to the first game read my 5 Takes about how it is my personal goal to stop this practice.
Surefire Hall of Famer, Teemu Selanne didn’t dress tonight. With the Ducks playing the front end of a back-to-back (tomorrow the club plays in Winnipeg), they are trying to keep their 43-year-old star rested this season.
While it was good not to see him in the lineup skating against the Wild, it was also a little disappointing for a longtime fan of the Finnish Flash like myself. Selanne is expected to retire after the season, his 22nd in the NHL. When most men are trying to cope with a midlife crisis, it’s amazing that he is able to continue playing at such a high level. One of the true gentlemen of the game, he’s was a childhood hero to both Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund. One of my favorite memories of Selanne was in 2007 when the Ducks won the Stanley Cup. Watching the superstar choke up when being interviewed showed how much passion he has for the game. Some hockey commentators are quick to say European players don’t care about winning or playing a team game, but that couldn’t be further from the truth in regards to Selanne.
Mathew Dumba, the Wild’s 2012 first-round pick, made his NHL debut tonight. While Dumba saw limited action in a close third period, the blueliner showed glimpses of what makes him such a highly touted prospect.
“I thought he had some really good moments. There were a couple of hiccups out there but he gave you glimpses of what he can do,” Yeo said. “It wasn’t the easiest of games for a young player to get into the way we started.”
With five minutes left in the first period, the Ducks were on a rush and caught the youngster in transition. With a Ducks player flying wide, Dumba looked like he might get beat, however, he cut hard skating backwards and closed the gap by taking a good angle. When Anaheim player slammed on the breaks at the blue line, Dumba hit the breaks and quickly engaged the winger, not allowing him to make a play.
At 19, Dumba is a solid skater and makes a good first pass. He also is confident with the puck in his own end and will only get better with age. The Wild still can send him back to major junior for seasoning, but have nine games to decide on that.
If you went to the game tonight, you would’ve noticed the stands were filled with the color blaze orange, and it wasn’t from Ducks supporters. Tonight, the Wild gave away orange Gander Mountain baseball caps. Pretty much everyone of the sellout crowd was rocking the lids.
Whenever there is a hat giveaway, I pray for a hat trick. Alas, no dice tonight. When I was growing up in Anchorage, there was a hat giveaway at a University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves game and Brian Kraft scored a hatty. Mine along with 7,000-plus bright red trucker caps rained down onto the ice at Sullivan Arena, one of my earliest and favorite hockey memories. One day Wild fans will get a chance when a player scores three, but don’t be stingy and go ahead and toss your free hat onto the ice.