Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Today, he'll look back at a 4-3 shootout win against the Los Angeles Kings:
The Wild showed plenty of it tonight, coming back after a road loss last night in Dallas, to take down the defending Stanley Cup champs. It was one of those gritty, everyone contributes, type of victories that makes fans really latch onto a team. The club easily could’ve packed it in, but refused to lose coming back from a two-goal deficit and finishing the job in the shootout (oh, we’ll get to the shootout).
Once again, Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise led the way. Parise scored the game-tying goal in the third period on the power play. They also both assisted on Charlie Coyle’s second period goal. Both had multi-point games; Koivu’s 11th on the season and Parise’s seventh.
“When your best players are working like that, it’s fun to coach,” Wild bench boss Mike Yeo said.
This might be the best that the Wild’s captain has played in his career and has been doing it in every facet on the ice. If he doesn’t get some serious Selke consideration, then he’s so underrated it is laughable.
Another member of the team that should get some post-season hardware consideration is goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who didn’t travel with the team yesterday. Backstrom returned to the net and backstopped the Wild to his eight-straight win. It was his 19th win on the season, which leads the NHL.
I’m not the biggest fan of shootouts. But today’s shootout was a display of what kind of offensive firepower the Wild can roll out. All three of the Wild’s shooters, Parise, Koivu and Matt Cullen scored on a very good Kings goaltender, Jonathan Quick.
Parise made a forehand-backhand-forehand move that completely fooled the netminder and the forward slipped it into the empty net. Koivu used his patented, forehand-backhand shelf that is as unstoppable as a tidal wave. Finally, Cullen slowed down at the top of the circles and slipped it between Quick’s legs. Then this little display started trending on Twitter. I love the Internet.
Brett Clark made his debut in a Wild sweater tonight. With the Wild not being able to practice due to amount of games jammed into this shortened season, Clark has only had a handful of practices to adjust to the Wild’s systems. Yeo said that he wasn’t going to judge Clark’s performance by his first few shifts and he stuck with the veteran defenseman.
“He got stronger as the game went on and showed what he can add,” Yeo said.
What Clark can add is his poise on the blue line, as he doesn’t panic and is able to hold the puck until forwards get open. When a media member asked Yeo if he considers him a poor-man’s Ryan Suter, Yeo quipped, “Is that because of his contract?” Life is good for Clark and the Wild.
I wanted to spend a Takeaway on the Wild’s second line last night, but just ran out of room. Well, tonight they get a much deserved Take.
When Cullen, Devin Setoguchi and Pierre-Marc Bouchard are playing with speed, they are tougher to hit than a fly at a barbeque. They have combined for some of the club’s prettiest goals in transition this season and Cullen’s first-period snipe was a prime example of what the line has the ability to do on a nightly basis.
Bouchard took a Kings’ turnover and quickly turned up ice. He went cross-ice to Devin Setoguchi and then broke to the net. With Bouchard opening up a lane, Setoguchi found a trailing Cullen, who accepted the pass and roasted one by Kings’ goalie high to the glove side. The play was created by Bouchard going hard to the net, as he created the lane, and also helped create a screen on Quick.
An athlete’s goal is always perfection, but attaining perfection is more rare than a white raven. The University of Minnesota Women’s Hockey Team became the only undefeated team in the history of Division I women’s hockey. I’m just glad my Wild.com article “Visions of Perfection” didn’t jinx them.
Tonight during the second intermission, the team was honored and they brought their NCAA national championship trophy onto the ice at Xcel Energy Center. The home faithful nearly blew the roof off the building showing their appreciation. The ‘Minnesota’ rally chant might’ve been the loudest I’ve heard, ever. Stick tap to the team and perfection.
While we’re on the subject of college hockey, you know I have to give a shout out to my St. Cloud State Huskies. They won in the first round of the Midwest Region in the NCAA Tournament, beating Notre Dame, 5-1. Tomorrow they take on the University of Miami Ohio for a chance to make it to the Frozen Four for the first time in school history #GOHUSKIESWOOOOO.
Clint Romesha, a retired staff sergeant was at the game with friends Thomas Rasmussen, Andrew Bundermann and Eric Harder. Rasmussen, Bundermann and Harder were awarded the Silver Star for their actions on Oct. 3, 2009 in Afghanistan. Romesha was presented the Medal of Honor, the Nation's highest military honor. He celebrated his 33rd birthday and has become a huge hockey fan. Stick tap to all four for their service.
Bonus, Bonus Take
Tonight, the Wild had a very special National Anthem singer open the game, Zenon Konopka’s sister, Cynthia. Before the game, little brother tweeted this out:
Cynthia belted the Anthem, opera style. WildTV caught the performance. Konopka joked with the Star Tribune’s Mike Russo that she has the nose he would’ve had if not for hockey. No word on Zenon's vocal ability.