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 Edmonton Oilers:
Tonight the Wild celebrated the franchise’s 1,000th regular season game fittingly against the Oilers, who was a Northwest Division rival since the club’s inception into the NHL. It was Minnesota’s 42nd win against Edmonton, the most against any other National Hockey League opponent.
The Wild got big efforts from a number of players again to get its sixth win in eight games. The club has won these games scoring by committee, while selling out in the defensive end and playing a total team game. It really goes to show the depth in the lineup when four blueliners skate in more than 20 minutes and eight forwards played more than 14 minutes.
Goaltender Darcy Kuemper started his third game in a row and was strong again tonight making 20 saves. While he wasn’t tested as much as other games he’s started since being recalled, he shut the Oilers down when they were trying to build momentum in the second period with the score tied, 1-1.
It was only a matter of time before Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville hooked up for a highlight-reel goal. After a sluggish, whistle-laden start to the game, the duo struck midway through the first period. Viewed at full speed, you’ll see a great hustle play from Granlund; followed by a crafty pass and the patient finish from Pominville. But watching the replay from the behind the net camera, it was a tricky schoolyard move by the 21-year-old that set up the play.
You know the really juvenile move that annoying co-worker pulls—when they tap your left shoulder, you look, but they jump on the right side of you? Yeah, Granlund used the move on Oilers blueliner Martin Marincin. The defenseman was going back into his own zone to retrieve the puck with Granlund in hot pursuit. The forward hit the right side of Marincin, who reacted by looking over his should. Granlund then jumped to his left and lifted Marincin’s stick, stealing the puck. He then made a quick backhand pass to Pominville, who finished.
In the second period, the Oilers were cycling like a new washing machine. The Wild was pinned in its own zone and at one point had to use its timeout after an icing. Things didn’t look good. However, a strong effort from the Graninoville line and the game’s momentum quickly shifted.
Again, it was Granlund on the forecheck creating an Oilers’ turnover that kicked things off. The forward didn’t get an assist on the play, but he finished a check causing Justin Schultz to whiff on his clearing attempt. Jason Zucker was the second-man in and created another turnover, which went to Pominville. The winger found Nate Prosser at the far point. The blueliner walked in and unleashed a bomb that Scrivens got a piece of, but not enough. The puck rolled over the goal line for Prosser’s first of the season.
After the game, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo called Prosser a “true pro” this season. He started the season as a healthy scratch, but stayed positive waiting for his chance. Well, it’s paying off because Prosser is earning a bigger role on the blue line each and every game. The blueliner logged 20:09 of ice, including 2:43 while shorthanded. He’s never afraid to mix things up and brings an edge every time he plays.
At first, Zucker was credited with the second assist on Prosser’s goal, but it was reneged between periods. Swell gift for a guy celebrating his 22nd birthday today. Maybe the winger heard about the slight because he started the third period like he was shot out of a cannon. While a lot of fans where still in line for an icy cold beverage, Zucker was busy scoring his fourth goal of the year. Only eight seconds into the final frame, the tally set a Wild record for the fastest goal to start a period.
The goal came on a sweet 2-on-1 with Dany Heatley. The pair has developed quite a bit of chemistry of late and had a number of good chances again tonight. The duo just missed on a couple of chances throughout the game. They both have a shoot-first mentality, but have found simpatico on the ice together.
Hockey Day Minnesota is only two days away, but Wild.com has already started the celebration with stories from around the State of Hockey. We’ve featured the Minnesota Sled Hockey Association, Minnesotans on the US Women’s Olympic Team, previewed the North Star Cup and a goaltender from Edina who was cut from his high school team but is aiming to play college hockey. Tomorrow WildTV will have the story of Quinn’s Cup, a pond hockey jamboree celebrating the life of 8-year-old Quinn Kirsch who died suddenly last January of Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart.
Hockey Day coverage will be ongoing Saturday on Fox Sports North and, if social media is your thing, there will be all kinds of interactive events happening all day using the hashtag #HDM2014 on @mnwild. Go to Wild.com’s Hockey Day site, here, to find out more.