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Offense keeps rolling for Wild in victory over Coyotes

Minnesota averaging more than four goals per contest in the first three games of West Coast road trip

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau sets his benchmark each game at three goals. If the team can light the lamp behind an opposing goalie three times, he likes his chances of winning.

Through the first 14 games of this season, Minnesota scored just 33 goals, an average of just over 2.3 goals per game ... far short of Boudreau's preferred number.

The Wild has found its stride on its current four-game road trip, however, reaching four for the third consecutive game on Saturday night in a 4-3 win against the Arizona Coyotes.

The first three games of the trip have seen the Wild score 13 times, an average of 4.33 goals per game that, while the sample size is small, provides a glimmer of hope that perhaps the team's offensive struggles from the first month of the schedule are a thing of the past.

Tweet from @mnwild: Hear from Bruce Boudreau after tonight���s win in Arizona!#MINvsaARI

"We watch video on offense almost every day," Boudreau said. "We seem to have a thing we do pretty well and we just preach, 'keep doing it.' I think we had 15 shots attempted in the first period and 30 in the second. You shoot the puck and go to the net, usually good things happen."

That 'shoot more' mantra paid off.

The Wild trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes in Glendale, but rallied to tie the game at 3-3 heading to the third period. Ryan Hartman broke the tie 4:54 into the third period on a beauty of a set up by Jared Spurgeon.

Video: MIN@ARI: Hartman beats Kuemper with heavy one-timer

But it was the Wild's first two goals that were emblematic of perhaps a more determined group to get shots at the net.

Mikko Koivu got the Wild on the board on the power-play hammering a rebound of a puck kicked out by Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

Video: MIN@ARI: Koivu lifts home big rebound for PPG

After Arizona extended its lead back to 3-1 five minutes later, Kevin Fiala answered with a goal of his own, potting a rebound of a point shot by Brad Hunt.

Video: MIN@ARI: Fiala dances around Kuemper, scores

"We've been shooting everything and getting to the net," said Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, who would tie the game in the final minute of the second with his second goal of the year. "[We've got] a lot more bounces going our way. I think guys are just capitalizing. We were overdue I think."

Video: MIN@ARI: Dumba unloads slap shot past Kuemper

While the Wild hasn't gotten much puck luck in the early part of the season -- heck, early in this game, when Aaron Ness' pass to Michael Grabner deflected in off the latter's skate 8:50 into the contest -- shooting more and getting bounces really go hand-in-hand.

One generally doesn't happen without the other.

"Yeah, the more the volume you get, the more quantity," Dumba said. "It eventually comes. It's worked here for the last [three]. We want to keep that going into L.A."

Perhaps the most agonizing part of the current road swing came in San Jose, when the Wild scored its most goals on the trip, five, in a game it lost. 

Tweet from @mnwild: ���For the most part, we were playing pretty good. We recognized that and we can get wins a in tough building. We proved that again tonight.- KoivuHear more from Koivu, Hartman, Dumba and Dubnyk after tonight���s win over the Coyotes.#MINvsARI

That was due in large part to a four-goal first period for the Sharks, where defensive breakdowns occurred at an alarming pace. Once the Wild got that figured out, the offense started to follow.

The same thing happened on Saturday, as the Wild was slow to get its defensive game going in falling behind 2-0 for the third consecutive game on the trip before solidifying in front of goaltender Devan Dubnyk and going to work in the offensive zone.

The deficits certainly aren't scaring the Wild, but it is a habit it'd like to break sooner than later.

"Obviously, we want to stop falling behind, but we've showed some great character coming back and staying in the game," Hartman said. "Duby made some great saves at the end of the first to keep us in it and we were able to battle back for him."


Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 4, Coyotes 3

Video: Wild rally to defeat Coyotes

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