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Cole's '2x4' aids Wild in win against Coyotes

Greenway's breakaway goal is scored with his teammate's stick as Minnesota gets back on track in the desert

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

Its technical term is a hockey stick. Some call it a twig. Others refer to it as lumber.

Jordan Greenway called it a 2x4. 

With the Arizona Coyotes down three goals after a miserable first period, the home team was pushing in the early minutes of the second to try and get back into the hockey game.


Enter Greenway, whose own stick snapped in his hands in the offensive zone and the puck went the other way.

The Wild forward went by the team's bench to retrieve a new twig and appeared to hesitate before seeing a teammate gain control of the puck in the defensive zone. Seeing an opportunity, he grabbed the first stick offered to him and b-lined for open ice, receiving a pass from Marcus Foligno for a wide open breakaway.

Greenway skated in and deked, but chose to keep the puck on the ice, sliding it through the five hole of Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta for a 4-zip lead. 

If it looked a little awkward at the end, it was because the stick he was using wasn't his, it was defenseman Ian Cole's. 

Tweet from @fsnorth: "It's great that everyone is contributing."Jordan Greenway checks in with @FSNGorg during the second intermission.

Greenway's goal stymied any momentum the Coyotes had early in the second period and helped the Wild to a 5-1 win at Gila River Arena on Friday night, the first meeting between the new division rivals and the first of consecutive meetings between the clubs. 

And from the look of it, Greenway was pleased to be able to get the puck off at all.

Even at 6-foot-6, Greenway said Cole's stick is significantly larger and heavier than his own.

Video: MIN@ARI: Greenway goes five hole on the breakaway

"Oh yeah, like 2 1/2 inches and like 50 pounds," Greenway said with a laugh. "Honestly, I got the puck and I didn't even know if I was going to be able to raise it or what I was going to be able to do. So I just tried to slide it five hole."

That was certainly better than the alternative from only a few seconds earlier, when Greenway missed grabbing a stick on his first fly by the bench.

"He was skating by the bench and I was kind of watching the play and no one gave him a stick," Cole said. "So he was just standing right in front of mine and I told him, 'Here, do you want mine? Take it.' Then he curls down on a breakaway and scores, and I think I might have cele'd harder than he did to be honest. 

"I think I should at least get a second assist, maybe a third assist on that."

Cole wasn't offended by the 2x4 reference.

"I think that's probably accurate," Cole said. "I don't know, but it seems to be working for him, so maybe he should switch to a 2x4."

Video: Players postgame at Arizona

Cole, who has one goal in 17 games with the Wild this season and 27 goals in 560 career NHL games, isn't known for his offensive prowess. 

He estimated it's been a few years since one of his sticks had scored on a breakaway.

"Realistically, probably peewees," Cole said. "It's been awhile."

Greenway said it was the first time he had ever scored a goal with someone else's stick, but don't look for him to ask equipment manager Tony DaCosta to order him any of Cole's models.

"I couldn't feel [the puck]," Greenway said. 

That goal was one of a number of quality storylines for the Wild as it moved four points clear of the Coyotes in the West Division, with games in hand. A victory on Saturday would put a clear line in the sand between the division's upper half and lower half, with the top four teams earning bids to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Video: MIN@ARI: Zuccarello fires home a Kaprizov pass

Mats Zuccarello scored the game's first goal and had an assist. The Wild improved to 7-0 in games where he finds the scoresheet. It's 0-2-1 in games where he doesn't.

His linemate Kirill Kaprizov kept his stellar rookie season going, dishing out an incredible behind-the-back pass to Nick Bjugstad for the Wild's third goal of the first period. 

Video: MIN@ARI: Bjugstad buries a nifty pass from Kaprizov

Kaprizov skated with the puck around the net and looked like he was going to try a wraparound, but instead sent a blind pass back to Bjugstad at the post, who had half of a cage to score into.

Bjugstad called the play the "Russian Nod," but said it was the first time he's ever been on the receiving end of it. Usually, he'd played the part of Kaprizov.

"Sure enough, the Russian gave me the puck tonight," Bjugstad said with a smile. "I thought it was an absolute gift from Kirill. If I would have missed that, it would have been a tough one."

Video: MIN@ARI: Hunt scores in 1st period

Playing in his first game in more than a month, Brad Hunt scored the team's second goal on a floater from the point that eluded Raanta. The veteran defenseman has actually seen a fair amount of time as a forward and seventh d-man when he's played this season, but drew in for a scratched Carson Soucy and made his mark early.

One of the locker room good guys, his goal was widely celebrated by everyone on the bench.

Video: Dean Evason postgame at Arizona

"Real good feel," said Wild coach Dean Evason. "[We know] how good Huntsy's personality is and he's dressed in almost every warmup even when he hasn't played. He's just a guy that, his positivity every single day, you see him come to the rink, and it doesn't matter if he's sitting or in or out or what happened, he's got a smile on his face. It's certainly nice to see him get rewarded."

For the Wild, coming off a frustrating two-game series against the Vegas Golden Knights where it proved it belongs, but only had one point in the standings to show for it, Friday's game was a nice bounceback effort.

"Playing Vegas, yes, they're a great team, and yes we had some good games against them, but the fact of the matter is, we lost two hockey games," Cole said. "It obviously wasnt good enough. So the ability to re-focus, come back against a good team here in Arizona and put together a great first period and then be able to close the game out the way we did was a step in the right direction and we need to take those steps."


Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 5, Coyotes 1

Video: Kaprizov, Zuccarello earns 2 points each in 5-1 win

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