Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at an 3-1 loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets:
Much like the first of the workweek, it was a tough day at the office for the Minnesota Wild against the Columbus Blue Jackets. After trading goals in the first and a good second period, it looked like the Wild was in prime position for a home win. The Jackets had other plans, scoring twice in the third and handing the Wild a loss in its final home game before the All-Star Break. Minnesota will have a chance to go into the break on a good note; the team travels to the Motor City to face the Detroit Red Wings tomorrow night.
Goaltender Devan Dubnyk was handed his first loss in a Wild sweater, making 20 saves on the night. Vezina Trophy winner from 2012-13, Sergi Bobrovsky, stymied the Wild on a number of chances in the second and third period. Bobrovsky had help from the game’s first star, James Wisniewski. With Columbus holding a one-goal lead, the blueliner made a diving save on Jason Pominville after Bobrovsky lost sight of a juicy rebound. They say that the post is a goaltender’s best friend, but sometimes they’re his defenders. Well, his pipes were pretty darn friendly tonight, too. Minnesota hit two posts, one in the first period off the stick of Justin Fontaine and another in the third on a long shot by Nino Niederreiter.
National Hockey League ice-time leader, Ryan Suter, was back in the lineup after serving a two-game suspension for elbowing Pittsburgh Penguins forward Steve Downie. It took him a little bit to get into the game, mainly because his first shift wasn’t until about three minutes in because of matchups and a long first turn by starters Christian Folin and Marco Scandella. The blueliner must’ve been well rested because once Suter hit the ice he saw a lot of it, skating in 30:11.
It looked like Suter scored in the second period, but the play was called dead. Following a faceoff, the blueliner was deep in the offensive zone and a rebound kicked out in his direction. Meanwhile, David Savard clipped Jason Zucker in the face with a high stick. As Suter converged on the rebound, Savard turned and whacked the puck, which went off the blueliner’s skate and into the net. Since Savard touched the puck, though, the play was considered dead.
Hockey is a dangerous game and injuries are not limited to players on the ice when six ounces of vulcanized rubber traveling at speeds up to 100 miles per hour are involved. When sitting on the bench, or behind it, players, coaches and trainers have to keep their eye on the puck at all time. When the biscuit is shot into the bench, players typically give a “heads up” call. Which is pretty horrible advice when you think about it. Today, a redirected puck flew into the Wild’s bench. The players and training staff ducked, but assistant equipment manager Rick “Tricky” Bronwell took the puck off the noggin.
While Bronwell was sidelined, fellow equipment manager Matt Benz took his spot as the go-to stick guy, grabbing twigs and handing them off to players who lost or broke their sticks. It was a good thing that Benz was on his game, because right away, forward Jason Pominville was in need of a new stick on the power play at the end of the first period. The wing broke his stick and raced back to the bench while the Wild maintained control in the offensive zone. Benz passed him the replacement twig like it was a paper-bagged beverage in front of a 7-Eleven. Pominville took the new stick, kept the puck in at the blue line and moved it to Mikko Koivu, who threw the puck at the net and was redirected past Bobrovsky.
Of course, Tricky returned to the Wild bench in the second period because he’s tough.
Most fans would probably say that a penalty shot is a rare occurrence. If you’re a new fan to hockey and began following the Wild this season, you might have a different opinion and think they are handed out like candy during Halloween. Let me assure you, new hockey fans, penalty shots are typically one of the more rare calls in the game. However, this season Minnesota has been awarded three attempts, the third coming tonight.
In the second period, Jared Spurgeon picked off a Columbus pass and in the Wild’s zone. Parise, seeing the turn over, took off like a prisoner during a jailbreak. Spurgeon found Parise in stride and the forward had a step on Jackets defenseman Savard, who wrapped him up enough to alter his shot attempt (which was actually pretty impressive considering he had a defenseman draped on his back). Parise came in from the red line under control, deked and looked to have Bobrovsky beat as he pulled the puck to his forehand, only to have it jump over his stick at the last moment. Minnesota is one-for-three on the season, with Niederreiter converting in Chicago earlier in the year.
In sports when two teams haven’t met all that often and the game starts a little slow, it’s often referred to as a feeling-out period. Well, tonight’s “feeling-out period” seemed to have lasted the entire first frame, as it resembled a turtle trying to wade through extra crunchy peanut butter. The first five minutes of the game was primarily played in the neutral zone and the teams combined for only 10 shots on goal (five apiece). Nonetheless, the clubs each scored a goal.
Following the first intermission, the second period was much more entertaining with the teams trading chances at a much higher clip. Minnesota fired 12 shots on goal and Columbus took nine. Of course, as so in sports, there was no scoring in the middle 20.