Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 6-5 overtime loss against the Nashville Predators:
With Christmas next week, Xcel Energy Center took on a festive atmosphere as the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators traded goals and leads like they were gifts at a White Elephant Party. In a game that saw five lead changes, Minnesota became the first team to score five goals on Nashville netminder, Pekka Rinne. It needed six.
For the second-consecutive game Minnesota used a third-period comeback to force overtime, assuring a point. For the second-consecutive game, the club fell short of earning the extra point for an overtime win. Tonight, Mattias Ekholm played the role of spoiler, scoring 1:45 into the extra session.
The Wild had multi-point efforts from six players (Charlie Coyle, 2 A; Marco Scandella, 1 G, 1 A; Zach Parise 2 G, 1 A; Ryan Suter, 2 A; Jason Pominville 2 A; Thomas Vanek 1 G, 1 A). Minnesota scored twice on the power play on four opportunities. With the offense going, the defense wasn’t nearly as efficient, allowing 44 Nashville shots and giving up six goals for the first time this season. The last time the Wild gave up a half dozen was nearly a year ago, on Dec. 27, 2013, a 6-4 loss in Winnipeg.
Matt Cooke returned to the lineup after missing 22 games with a lower-body injury. Speaking to the media this week, Cooke said the injury was especially tough because there was no timetable or a specific date for his return. He essentially had to wait until it healed before he could skate or workout. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that the team missed his energy, veteran presence in the room, physicality and his ability to kill penalties.
In the first period, he did something that few have the courage to do: laid down and blocked a Shea Weber one-timer bomb. At the 2012 All-Star Skills Competition, Weber’s slapper clipped the 106 mph mark, placing second to Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara’s bomb (108.8 mph). During the summer, Predators defenseman Seth Jones tweeted out a photo that Weber shot a puck through the boards. Yeah, that’s not supposed to happen. Could you image if that puck broke Cooke’s shin pad or, even worse, a more important piece of protective equipment? No thank you.
Minutes before the start of the game, we learned that Mikael Granlund would be scratched due to an illness. In his place, Coyle took over as center between Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek. On the game’s opening shift, Coyle launched former Minnesota forward, Eric Nystrom, with a shoulder check at the Preds’ blue line. It was a good sign for the forward’s game as he finished with two assists, two shots, won 12 of 22 faceoffs and played 19:43.
Later in the first period, the center assisted on the Wild’s second goal. He caught a pass in the high slot from Vanek on his backhand. He made a quick move to his forehand and back to his backhand to change the angle on the defender, Jones, and whipped a backhander at Rinne. Goaltenders always say that their least favorite shots to face are from the backhand, because they can’t read where the puck is going or how it will come off the blade. Well, Rinne struggled with Coyle’s backhand because he kicked out a juicy rebound that banked off Parise’s skate and in. Coyle also picked up an assist on the third goal, which also looked like a soccer play…
With the Wild on the power play in the second period, Rinne robbed Coyle and kicked out another wicked rebound. The puck popped up into the air and Scandella corralled it with his chest like Messi and whipped the biscuit towards the net. Rinne slowed the shot down and Jones, who was behind him, gloved it away, but Scandella stayed with it and knocked in the rebound.
At least, according to the Situation Room in Toronto, because I never saw the puck cross the line. Here’s the explanation from the NHL:
At 7:17 of the second period in the Nashville Predators/Minnesota Wild game, the Situation Room initiated a video review to further examine a play at the Nashville net. Video review determined that Marco Scandella's rebound shot completely crossed the goal line. Good goal Minnesota.
Well then, sometimes you don’t need a complex explanation for an easy answer. There were a lot of rare sights in today’s game, but there was one incident that I’ve never seen in hockey…
The Wild was on the power play because Predators forward Mike Fisher received a double-minor penalty for hooking, rather two hooking penalties in the same sequence. I’ve seen double-minors for roughing, two penalties stacked together, like a rough and a cross-check, but I’ve never seen someone go to the sin bin for two separate hooking penalties on the same play.
First, Fisher hooked Nino Niederreiter in the offensive zone. Then, the Wild cleared the puck and the 34-year-old hooked Parise. I guess Fisher thought he was an angler on that shift. Goodnight, remember to tip your servers and I’ll be here all week.