Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways, presented by Wells Fargo, that he'll remember from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers:
The Wild jumped out to a quick start tonight, getting on the board only 2:37 into the first period on a Jared Spurgeon goal. All four lines were buzzing early, as Minnesota registered five shots on goal before the Oilers could manage one. In fact, Edmonton’s first shot on goal came at the 7:34 mark of the first period on a harmless point shot from Ladislav Smid.
“After the last loss (Friday in Anaheim), we really set our sites on how we needed to come out to play (right off the opening draw),” Yeo said.
What the Wild showed opening minutes of the first period was a good preview of the rest of the game, as Minnesota outshot the Oilers, 43-21, on the way to victory. Tonight was one of those complete team efforts, with every Wild skater logging more than 10 minutes of ice time.
The Wild’s most dominant period was the middle frame. However, if you only looked at the score, it would’ve told a different story. Despite being held off the scoreboard, Minnesota completely owned the second period.
The Wild dominated the period, with a solid forecheck and quick transition game. In the second period alone, Minnesota fired an impressive 18 shots on goal. More astonishing than the 18 shots was holding the Oilers to a depressing zero shots. That’s right, the Wild kept Edmonton from taking a shot on Niklas Backstrom during the entire second period. No shots is like the worst cast of “The Real World.” Ever.
It doesn’t always take a booming slap shot from the point to get a puck past a goaltender. Sometimes a screen and a quick wrist shot works just fine, as Jared Spurgeon demonstrated in the first period. The blueliner collected a pass from Devin Setoguchi, who made a fine second-effort diving to get the puck to the point. Spurgeon dropped his shoulder, changed the angle and put a wrist shot over Dubnyk’s blocker.
Overall, the entire Wild blue line put forth a very strong effort. Passes from the D-zone were crisp and it led to quick transition offense. This is the type of game that Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo wants to play and tonight the execution from the blue line was a big reason the Wild had so many shot attempts, while keeping the Oilers’ shots down.
“The better we play our game, the more chances we’ll get to score, but the more we’ll keep the other team off the board,” Yeo said. And the Wild’s defenseman did that tonight.
Well, after that second period, you knew that the Wild was due. It was captain Mikko Koivu who got things rolling. Charlie Coyle made a crucial chip play at the center ice red line, putting the puck in space and not turning it over. Zach Parise and Koivu converged on the bouncing puck against two Oiler defenders and it was the centerman who came up with the puck. He took a step to his forehand and rifled a shot over Dubnyk’s glove.
“We came out with the right focus right from the start of that third period,” Yeo said “We kept with the same focus and (Koivu’s line) really set the tone.”
After the game, Yeo credited both Koivu and Parise with helping their rookie linemate, Coyle, continue to improve his game while being patient. With the caliber of players of Koivu and Parise, they might get frustrated playing with a rookie, but Yeo said, in fact, the opposite has happened.
“They’ve been really supportive to what he’s been doing,” Yeo said “We felt it was a matter of time.”
They are glad they stuck with the rookie, because Coyle scored the eventual game winner 6:09 into the third period. He took a pass from Parise, moved to his backhand and fired it low to the blocker side past Dubnyk. Kids, practice your backhand.
For the third-straight game an opponent scored on a wonky bounce. This time, it was a double deflection that started behind the net. Koivu was firing a clearing shot from behind the Wild goal. It ricocheted off of Sam Gagner’s foot to the front of the net. It then bounced off Ryan Suter’s body and into the goal. Ridiculous.
Other than that fluky goal, Niklas Backstrom was again outstanding. Although the save totals would make you think Dubnyk had the better game, you could argue Backstrom had a more mentally challenging game. Not getting a single shot in a period can have adverse effects on a netminder. Many times they prefer to see a lot of rubber because it helps lock them in. Backstrom could’ve checked his iPhone for scores around the league if he wanted to in the second frame. However, he came back strong in the third, making several crucial saves with the Oilers pressuring to try to even the score.