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Greenway's winning goal a nice reward for he ... and Wild

Game-winning tally in final period snapped 23-game goal drought

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

ST. PAUL -- When it comes to scoring goals in the NHL, sometimes the hardest one to get is the first one.

Be it the first goal of a career, or the first one in a season, for players that go any length of time with a goose egg in the goal column, the pressure tends to mount. 

Wild forward Jordan Greenway has done his best to avoid that pressure, and instead of seeing his game go the wrong way in recent games, he has actually seen his play get better and better.

Thursday night, the young power forward was rewarded for his patience.

Greenway's first goal of the season came in his 17th game came with under eight minutes to play in a tied hockey game, and was the eventual game-deciding goal in a 3-2 Minnesota win over the Arizona Coyotes at Xcel Energy Center.

Perhaps fittingly, Greenway used his body to get the puck past Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta, specifically his calf, which defenseman Jonas Brodin used as a backboard to break the tie late. 

Video: ARI@MIN: Greenway nets go-ahead goal with deflection

Fitting because using his body has been the way Greenway has made a difference of late, using his size and strength to help change the momentum of games. 

Thursday, his persistence in front decided it.

"I really had a focus on going to the net, going to the net hard and it paid off," Greenway said. "But [Brodin] made a great play, great faceoff by [Joel Eriksson Ek], got it to the net and I got lucky. It went off me."

The Wild believes the 22-year-old Greenway has a lengthy NHL career in front of him, and getting on the scoresheet in the fashion he did on Thursday will likely be at the heart of it. 

Like he's had to learn how to consistently use his body to create space at this level, sometimes it takes a little positive reinforcement when it comes to net-front presence. 

Tweet from @mnwild: ���They have a little bit of jump and that���s really good.���📹 Hear more from Bruce Boudreau after tonight���s win over the Coyotes!#ARIvsMIN

"He's a big body. If he learns to go to the net, he's going to get a lot of them," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. 

Greenway's goal provided a bit of relief for the Wild, which outshot Arizona 20-8 in the opening 20 minutes of the game but escaped up just one goal on Kevin Fiala's opening tally at 14:39.

It was Fiala's fourth goal in six games as he, Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise again played a strong game. Parise would score Minnesota's second goal of the game 5:39 into the third period, giving the Wild a 2-1 lead. 

"I feel like it's kind of been building that direction the last few games. I think we're building chemistry and learning," Parise said. "We haven't played a lot of hockey with Kevin so he doesn't know our tendencies and we don't know his. We are trying to learn and trying to become familiar with each other where we go on the ice and we can just hit it when we're under pressure. 

"I think we're doing a lot better job using the back to the net and we're spending way more time in the offensive zone and now we're getting some scoring chances and that's the way it's supposed to be played."

The Coyotes, playing their third game in four nights -- all on the road -- again clawed back, tying the game once again on a goal by Logan Crouse 113 seconds after Parise's marker.

That set the stage for the Big Rig, who lit the lamp for the first time since last March 22, a span of 23 games without a goal. 

Greenway has never been a prodigious scorer, but even that stretch of games was a little too lengthy for comfort.

But he said he never let that get him down.

Video: Locker room postgame vs Arizona

"It's good for sure. My mentality was if I kept doing the right things eventually it'd come," Greenway said. "I felt like lately I had been doing a lot of good things even though maybe I wasn't producing as much as I wanted to. But like I said, I'm happy I could get the first one tonight."

Greenway helped preserve the lead late on the other end of the ice, stepping in front of a slap shot by Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun. 

It was one of several key blocks down the stretch by a Wild team that looked desperate for points. 

"I think a lot of guys made a lot of sacrifices tonight. Zach had a huge block. [Devan Dubnyk] made some great saves. Everyone played well, goalie on up," Greenway said. "It was only fitting that I would jump in front of one too. It was a good win by everyone and in order to keep winning. That's the sacrifices I think we have to make."


Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 3, Coyotes 2

Video: Coyotes, 2 - Wild, 3

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