Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars:
The first of November was a night firsts for the Minnesota Wild.
Three players scored their first of the year—one getting his first as a member of the Wild. The club also scored on the power play for the first time this season. The power play goal must’ve felt good because the team did it again in the third on a fancy redirection by Nino Niederreiter, tipping the puck between his own legs on a shot/pass from Ryan Suter.
The Wild remains perfect on home ice, winning its fifth game at Xcel Energy Center. The Saturday night crowd of 19,088 was jacked up and the team put on a show, outshooting the Stars, 30-20. Dallas, playing on the second night of a back-to-back, came out hard in the opening period, but couldn’t keep up with the Wild, rolling four lines pretty much all night.
With Jared Spurgeon out with an upper-body injury, the blue line needed to step up. The Wild returned two young blueliners, who helped carry the defensive load with Spurgeon out. Christian Folin was activated off Injured Reserve and played a strong game. Jonas Brodin played for the first time since taking an illegal hit on Monday against the Rangers and looked like he didn’t miss a beat.
Goaltender Darcy Kuemper was solid in net making 19 saves for his sixth win of the season. The netminder had to make a few highlight-reel stops when the Stars were pressuring early until the Wild’s offense took the game over in the second period.
The Wild’s power play was overdue and can collectively take the monkey off its back, as the team finally got on the board on the man advantage. Thomas Vanek was brought in to Minnesota to help the team’s power play and that’s where he struck pay dirt for his first of the year. The puck was at the half wall with Mikko Koivu and Vanek was in front of the net jockeying for position with defenseman Brenden Dillon and screening Stars’ goaltender Kari Lehtonen. When the puck moved to Zach Parise in the corner, Vanek rotated to face the net and found a soft spot in the Stars’ box. He caught a pass from Parise and, in one motion, roofed the puck over Lehtonen’s glove.
After a sluggish start, where he had an assist in his first four games, Vanek has come alive offensively. The wing has seven points (1-6=7) in his last six games. It must’ve felt good for Vanek to get in the goal column, especially on the power play. If he was excited, he didn’t much show it. The forward has been there before and certainly acted the part, celebrating with a subdued fist pump. The snipe was just business as usual for the forward.
Although it was a night of firsts, the Wild continued its domination in the second period. Minnesota has scored a second-period goal in eight of 10 games and has 17 total middle-period tallies, the most in the NHL.
Forward Mikael Granlund started off the scoring in his 100th career game, picking up an errant clearing pass from Jordie Benn. Errant might be too light of a word, as the pass was right on the tape of Granlund, who said thanks by beating Lehtonen high over the glove.
Matt Dumba extended the lead with a blast from the point. However, the two-goal cushion was short lived, because Stars forward Vernon Fiddler scored only eight seconds later. The back-to-back goals set a home ice record for shortest time between tallies in Wild history.
We saw a lot of clean faces at Xcel Energy Center, as the calendar turned to November today. Of course, the 11th month of the year has become known as Movember, a time for growing moustache in support of men’s health. So those who follow the rules were clean-shaven when they entered the building.
Once again, the Wild’s Movember will be presented by Jacks Links Beef Jerky. After winning Wild.com Mo Bro Power Rankings last season, Justin Fontaine will take the reigns as the team’s Mo Captain. We know how popular they are, so Wild.com will again have a weekly Mo Bros Power Ranking of those glorious cookie dusters. Fontaine will try to defend his title, but will be up against a lot of stiff upper-lip competition. Go to the Wild’s Movember page to learn more about the mustachioed movement.
There was an inspiring moment during the first intermission, as Jack Jablonski, who was paralyzed during a high school hockey game 2011, took the ice at Xcel Energy Center and led the crowd in stick tap. All fans were given thunder hockey stick and stayed in their seats to tap along with Jablonski. It kicked off #StickTap2Hope, a social initiative to raise awareness of the innovative recovery treatments already available for people living with spinal cord injuries.
Before the game, former NHLer Jeremy Roenick gave the “Let’s Play Hockey!” call and sled-hockey player Joe Lang was the ceremonial Flag Bearer.
The Jack Jablonski Bel13ve in Miracles Foundation is asking fans to share a photo or video on social media of their own stick tap using #StickTap2Hope to help promote recovery for the 1.3 million Americans living with a spinal cord injury.
Nordy Wild is one of the best mascots around the League, and I’m not just writing that because I’m in the cubicle next to him. Tonight, he had his t-shirt gun juiced up and was in the arena’s lower bowl. I called for the swag and Nordy obliged by aiming into the press box. However, it had too much power and shot over my head into the FOX Sports North booth.