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 5-1 win over Dallas:
It was only a matter of time before the Wild's offense got rolling.
Outshooting its opponent for the fifth-straight game, the Minnesota Wild had an offensive outburst, scoring four goals in the first two periods. With a three-goal lead heading into the final frame, the club didn’t have to press, stayed under control, continued to attack, added a power play goal by Zach Parise (his team-leading fourth of the season) and ate up time until the final seconds ticked off the clock. Overall, it was a strong team effort, as the Wild controlled the play throughout the game. Josh Harding was good in net again tonight, making 18 saves.
The Wild registered 36 shots tonight, 27 of them during 5-on-5 play. Through the first four games, Minnesota was ‘unlucky’ as the team’s 5-on-5 shooting percentage was 4.26 (25th in the league). The club would eventually have a breakthrough game offensively, and that was tonight. Several individuals had breakthrough games, starting early…
If you weren’t settled into your seats here at Xcel Energy Center, you missed a little part of Wild history. Not only did Justin Fontaine score his first-career goal, but he also set a team record for fastest score to start a game, lighting the lamp only 12 seconds into the game.
After a faceoff win by Kyle Brodziak, the team got the puck in deep. The Stars attempted a breakout pass, but Matt Cooke picked it off. He slid a pass to Fontine, who pulled the puck to his backhand and beat Stars netminder Dan Ellis low to the blocker side. It wasn’t the hardest of shots, but Fontaine found a hole for his first. Goaltenders always say that backhanders are the toughest shots to stop because of the angle the puck comes off the stick. Backhanders are also tough to stop because the player shooting the puck doesn’t always know where it’s going. So, good luck with stopping those shots goalies.
Not to be outdone on a night of firsts, rookie defenseman Mathew Dumba scored his first-career goal in the second period. On the power play, the Wild set up high in the offensive zone. Sneaking down the left side of the ice, you could see 19-year-old with his stick in the air, calling for a one-timer like he was trying to flag down cab. Dany Heatley found him across the Stars’ box, but Dumba couldn’t fire his potent one-timer. Instead, he settled the puck and lifted it over the shoulder of Ellis.
Scoring his first goal with Minnesota tonight was Nino Niederreiter, but the forward didn’t realize he put the puck in the net. After Mikko Koivu fired a one-timer wide of the cage, El Nino tracked down the puck off the boards and fired a quick shot past Ellis. Zach Parise was on the doorstep and jamming away and celebrated after the puck crossed the line. But it was initial shot that beat Ellis and Niederreiter was correctly credited with the goal.
Sometimes players leave their feet in the defensive zone and slide across the ice to try to breakup a pass or attacking attempt. Tonight in the second period, Keith Ballard was in the Wild’s end and the Stars had the puck down low. There was also a forward in front of the net, creating a 2-on-1. Ballard went down to block the shot, lying down in a two-pad stack that looked like Rose’s famous pose in Titanic, according to Wild Media Relations Coordinator Carly Peters (this guy has never seen the movie). However, Ballard kept it classy and left his gear on.
In the second period, Ballard made more of a traditional sliding play, breaking up a 2-on-1 as the dangerous Ray Whitney tried to center a pass. Overall, the Wild’s D-corps had another solid game…
Once again, the Wild outshot its opponent, tonight firing 36 shots compared to the Stars’ 19 SOG. While much will be made about the team’s offensive outburst, the team’s blue line had another strong outing. With the game firmly in hand, the Wild eased up on workhorse Ryan Suter’s ice time, playing a mere 26:03 tonight. In back-to-back games, Clayton Stoner has been rock solid and has brought a physical presence to the blue line. Out of Stoner’s 16:57 of ice, 2:15 was shorthanded. Jared Spurgeon had an impact on the offensive zone, tallying two assists and firing two shots on goal.
This season, the Wild has been the stingiest team in the League in terms of shots allowed. The club lowered its shots allowed average to 21.4. The club has the second-highest shot total differential, trailing only the San Jose Sharks.