Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-3 overtime win against the Winnipeg Jets:
After jumping out to a three-goal lead in first period, it looked like it would be a lazy Sunday for the Minnesota Wild. However, the Winnipeg Jets made a late push to force overtime, before defenseman Marco Scandella won it in extra session with a laser wrist shot from the point. The defenseman was a game-time decision, but was a force on the blue line (more on him in a minute) all afternoon.
Scandella wasn’t the only big addition. The team returned forward Zach Parise, who scored twice in the opening period (more on him, too).
The Wild played shorthanded the entire second period and it seemed to change the flow of the game. Minnesota was flying in the first, but the second was a sluggish due to the high volume of penalties. The Wild struggled to get anything going in the third when the Jets started to press. However the club pulled out the game with Scandella playing overtime hero, a nice welcome back, to give the team a needed two points and extend its winning streak to three games.
After missing the previous five games with a concussion, Parise returned to the lineup against the Jets. His impact was immediate. The wing scored a pair of goals in the opening period.
Sure, his first was a little lucky, but I’m a big believer that you make your own luck. Parise had the puck at the right circle and fired a shot that was blocked. The puck came back to him and he threw another attempt at the net, but it bounced off the leg of Winnipeg defenseman Mark Stuart, then forward Blake Wheeler and in. You can’t get good bounces if you don’t put the puck on net and Parise is a volume shooter.
His second goal of the period was a little more traditional, as he drove to the net on the rush. Jason Pominville put a low shot on Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who kicked out a rebound. Parise was in the right place, in front of the net, at the right time. The forward stopped the bouncing puck with his leg and then swatted it in. The best place to find goals is around the crease and the forward was rewarded for heading to the blue paint.
Scandella returned after missing two games due to illness. The blueliner played 24:58 and was partnered with Nate Prosser. During the second period Ryan Suter was in the penalty box for six minutes and Scandella was a rock on the club’s penalty kill unit. In the middle period alone, the Montreal native played 6:29 while the team was shorthanded. Overall, Scandella helped flawlessly kill 9:41 of penalties in the contest.
He wasn’t the only one as the Wild’s killers got a lot of work, having to kill eight Jets power plays, including three 5-on-3 chances. Minnesota’s kill has been strong all season and tonight was probably its best effort of the year. The team blocked shots, won races to loose pucks and 50-50 battles all over the ice. Scandella was a big part of the team’s success on the PK.
Both the Wild and Jets played yesterday, so the start of the game was key with a 4 p.m. puck drop. The Wild came out guns blazing, scoring just 2:07 into the game on the power play, as Nino Niederreiter scored his team-leading eighth goal of the year. Minnesota continued to keep the pressure on the Jets for the entire opening 20 minutes.
Winnipeg didn’t register its first shot on goal until 12:24 into the first period. In fact, all three of their first-period shots came on the power play. The Jets didn’t manage an even strength shot until 3:38 into the second period.
Of course, the Jets turned the tables in the third period, scoring three unanswered goals to tie the game. Winnipeg’s second two goals were on fortuitous bounces, both hitting Wild players and going in. The Jets’ second goal came off the stick of Evander Kane from behind the net, but hit both Mikael Granlund and Niklas Backstrom before going in. On the game-tying goal, Adam Pardy’s point shot redirected off of Prosser on its way past Backstrom. With the Wild on its heels, Head Coach Mike Yeo pulled Backstrom, who played well but was unlucky, for Darcy Kuemper to help change the game’s momentum. Kuemper was credited with the win after making three saves.
It was a feisty contest between two Central Division rivals. The chippy play was from both sides, as teams traded power plays like they were at a swap meet. In total, the teams combined for 48 minutes of penalties. The Jets came out of the gate throwing around the body, but the Wild responded in kind. Minnesota might not be the most physical team in the NHL, but when challenged, they don’t back down.
In a game that saw more body work than a good auto repair shop, the best hit of the game came from Keith Ballard. With the Jets on the forecheck, Pardy was pinching in from the point. He played the puck forward and Ballard got low for a classic, old school hip check. Pardy went summersaulting over Ballard like an uncoordinated gymnast who didn’t stick the landing. Unsurprisingly, both Pardy and Dustin Byfuglien targeted Ballard and a small donnybrook ensued. The Baudette native emerged from the dog pile with a big grin on his face. Earlier in the game, Ballard fought Andrew Ladd. He was a one-man wrecking crew.