What’s the good word State of Hockey Legion?
We’re higher than an eagle’s nest, literally and figuratively. Literally because the Al Shaver Press Box inside Xcel Energy Center is pretty high about the ice; figuratively because the Minnesota Wild is riding a six-game win streak and looks to make it lucky number seven against the Phoenix Road Dogs, also known as the Coyotes. This is the third and final meeting between the two teams, splitting a pair of February contests at Jobbing.com Arena.
If you’ve been following along on Wild.com this season, you’ll know why we’re pretty confident in the team’s chances night-in and night-out. But during this stretch we’re starting to feel down right expectant. During the six-game win streak, the team is outscoring opponents, 27-14. Impressive.
Also impressive during the stretch is goaltender Niklas Backstrom, and he’ll get the start again tonight. Backstrom has backstopped every game during the Wild’s streak. Against Phoenix, he’s played both of the games against Phoenix this season, going 1-1-0 with a 2.52 goals against average and a .919 save percentage.
The Wild is going with the same lineup as its last outing, a 7-4 win against the Stars on Monday.
Tonight’s healthy scratches are defensemen Brett Clark and Nate Prosser, and forward Jake Dowell. Josh Harding is on Injured Reserve as he continues treatment for multiple sclerosis.
The Wild is rocking the home Iron Range Reds, while the Yotes wears its white howling-dog sweaters.
You can keep up with the game action on Twitter at @mnwildLIVE and we’ll get your period recaps here.
Fire it up!
Period 1 - MIN 1, PHX 0
After some good scoring chances both ways, the Wild scored the opening period's lone goal.
After a transition play through the neutral zone, Mike Rupp fired a puck on net with Zenon Konokpa and Torrey Mitchell heading hard to the net. The puck went off Phoenix netminder Jason LaBarbera's pads and into the slot. Mitchell found the puck and the back of the net for his third goal of the season. Clayton Stoner added an assist on the play.
The Wild was outshot in that period, 10-8, but outscored the Coyotes. And in the end, that's all that really matters, right? I have a feeling the boys are going to keep it going in the second.
Period 2 - MIN 2, PHX 2
The Wild extended its lead, but the Coyotes fought back at the end of the period.
Matt Cullen was the recipient of a very nice gift, as LaBarbera put a bow on his clearing pass. Cullen was cutting in on the forecheck, knocked the puck out of the air and tapped it into the empty net for his sixth goal of the season.
The Coyotes got on the board after a strong forecheck, as Rob Klinkhammer scored his fourth of the year with a falling wrist shot. Boyd Gordon and David Moss picked up assists on the play.
Phoenix's second goal also came off the forecheck, as Gordon redirected a point shot from Keith Yandle past goaltender Niklas Backstrom. Moss picked up the second assist on the play.
Minnesota definitely out-chanced Phoenix that period, but it doesn't matter because the score is square heading into the final frame. I think we all know what happens next, but stay tuned.
Period 3 - MIN 3, PHX 3
Now that kept us on the edge. The Coyotes took its first lead of the game but the Wild came back to tie it up late.
The Coyotes scored after a transition play through the neutral zone. Shane Doan broke in on Backstrom on the right side of the ice. Backtrom made a sprawling save, but the puck rebounded out to the point. The puck bounced out to Michael Stone, who fired a shot on net before Backstrom could recover and past the netminder. Klinkhammer picked up the second assist on the play.
Things were looking bleak, until Ryan Suter came to the rescue. The blueliner evened things up with a wrist shot from the point with 55 seconds left in the game. Assists went to Jared Spurgeon and Koivu.
Overtime here we come!
Overtime - MIN 4, PHX 3
What an ending!
After a power play expired, Wild Captain Mikko Koivu gives the Wild its seventh-straight win in overtime. He took a pass at the right side of the net, cut in and stuffed it home. Zach Parise and Jared Spurgeon picked up the assists.
The Wild heads back to Dallas on Saturday and skates for eight straight.