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Fourth line helps Wild wrap road-heavy start to season with memorable win

Minnesota scores eight goals in final 40 minutes of regulation to salvage final game of three-game trip

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Headed home for the better part of the next two months, the Wild will certainly have something to remember from the road.

On the sixth night of its current trip, Minnesota -- down three top-9 forwards and welcoming its goaltender back for the first time in more than a month -- scored eight times in a chaotic and crazy game Thursday at Gila River Arena, one the Wild won 8-5.

The victory salvaged a three-game road trip and put the exclamation point on a historic road-heavy schedule to start the season. Now 36 games into the 2019-20 campaign, Minnesota has played 23 road games. It will now embark on a stretch of 18 of 22 games in downtown St. Paul where the Wild will spend a grand total of five nights in a hotel between now and the middle of February. 

Video: Bruce Boudreau postgame at Arizona

"We'll be dying to get on the road again," quipped a downright jovial Bruce Boudreau afterward. "No, too much of either place is not good. You get stale if you're at home; not too many teams win 10-in-a-row at home or anything like that.

"But listen, we can't wait to get home. We've been loving it there and hopefully it will continue next week.

But they'll always have Glendale.

Up 4-2 headed to the third period, the Wild looked like all it needed was a good, solid, defensive-minded final 20 minutes to finish its final multi-game road trip in the next nine weeks with a victory.

That plan went without the window in the span of 3 minutes, 22 seconds. 

Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored 48 seconds into the period and Jakob Chychrun followed 85 seconds later to tie the game at 4-4.

But that was just the beginning. 

Video: MIN@ARI: Hunt scores on amazing shot near goal line

Defenseman Brad Hunt would answer quickly, putting the Wild ahead exactly one minute after Chychrun's goal and Mats Zuccarello finished a great pass by Eric Staal 35 seconds after that, re-establishing the Wild's two-goal advantage.

Video: MIN@ARI: Zuccarello scores on Staal's perfect pass

Then Clayton Keller scored 26 seconds after Zuccarello and it was 6-5 again. 

Taylor Hall, making his home debut for the Coyotes after a trade Monday from the New Jersey Devils, must have been having flashbacks to his old Edmonton Oilers days. 

Order was restored, somewhat, after that. Ryan Suter would give the Wild another two-goal lead at 11:16 of the third after a crazy sequence in which both Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper made a series of grade-A saves. 

Kuemper also looked leaky in making two or three others, so the Wild kept firing. 

But Suter's backhander, which came seconds after a board-rattling hit by Marcus Foligno caught the attention of all five Coyotes on the ice, seemed to take the wind out of Arizona's sails.

Tweet from @mnwild: ���You wanna get through it and win it for him.��� -Marcus Foligno on Devan Dubnyk📹 Hear from Foligno, Hartman, and Dubnyk after tonight���s win in Arizona!#mnwild

After a wacky first half of third period, the Wild was able to get the kind of good, solid, defensive-minded third period it needed to close out the game ... it just came a little later than it probably would have liked. 

"Sometimes it's just the way the game script goes," Dubnyk said. "You could see the third period was just back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. We just continued to press and made some great plays. 

"I don't know if the guys talked before and figured I'd been off for a month so they'd spot me eight and trust me to keep them to seven. I kept them to five so we only really needed six."

Tweet from @mnwild: Welcome back, Duby. #mnwild

Dubnyk's final box score was certainly not indicative of his play, especially early in the game. Playing for the first time since he started against Carolina on Nov. 16, Dubnyk stopped 16 of 17 first-period shots as the Wild was slow to get going.

"He kept the game at what it was," Hunt said.

That all changed in the second, when Minnesota scored twice in the first 3 minutes, 25 seconds of the middle period on goals by Ryan Donato and Marcus Foligno. 

Chychrun scored his first of two goals on the power play midway through the period, but the Wild answered quickly on a breakaway goal by Ryan Hartman 1 minute, 25 seconds after that. 

Video: MIN@ARI: Hartman splits the defense, buries the puck

Staal would take a pretty feed from Zuccarello and put it past Kuemper with 1:45 left in the second, setting up the third-period fireworks.

"You've got to love it. That's hockey. You're playing the game and people like to see goals. It wasn't at home but it was still fun," Staal said. "I thought we moved pucks well and created a lot of grade-A chances. We could've had a couple more. That's something that we want to bottle up and continue. It's not going to be like that every night. It was resilient by our group tonight."

With Mikko Koivu, Jason Zucker and Joel Eriksson Ek all back in Minnesota nursing injuries, it was Hartman, Foligno and Victor Rask on the fourth line that helped pick up the slack in a big way. 

"I think us three jell pretty well together. Everyone brings a little bit of something to the table," Hartman said. "We know how to be regular NHL players every day and we know what it takes when you do have guys injured. It's not the first time a team has gone through this. It's how you respond. To everyone's credit, we're stepping up."

All three players finished a plus-2 in the game, with Hartman scoring a goal and assisting on another and Rask chipping in an assist. But perhaps even more impactful than Foligno's goal and two assists was the bruising hit on Arizona defenseman and former Golden Gopher Aaron Ness 16 seconds before Suter's goal. 

Video: MIN@ARI: Suter pots pretty backhanded shot

Moments earlier, Foligno broke up a pass in the defensive zone that forced the puck all the way down the ice. Ness retreated to get it, pursued by Foligno the whole way. 

Foligno, who has six inches and 35 pounds on Ness, crushed the diminutive defenseman with a clean check behind the Coyotes goal, one which knocked his helmet off. 

Forced to either retrieve his lid or head right to the bench (a new NHL rule this season), Ness went to the corner to get his helmet while the Wild forced a turnover. 

Video: MIN@ARI: Foligno flips the puck in at the doorstep

Arizona chased Foligno and the puck for the next few seconds until Hartman found Foligno in the left circle, he wheeled to the corner with the puck and hit Suter with a nice backhand pass. 

With Coyotes preoccupied by Foligno, Suter had all day in front of the net to whip a backhander past Kuemper for what ended up being the final blow of the game.

Luke Kunin would add an empty-net goal with nine seconds remaining, but Suter's final tally effectively ended the game.

Video: MIN@ARI: Kunin adds the exclamation point

"To me, the difference in the game," Boudreau said. "That sort of deflated them a little bit but it built our bench up with a lot of energy. People don't realize, a good fourth line makes the difference. If you look at those guys on the fourth line, they're all plus players. They all got four or five goals. They make a huge difference."

It certainly wasn't a recipe the Wild would like to follow too often, but it was, yet again, another way Minnesota has found a way to win ... one of many different ways it has during a stretch where Minnesota has earned at least a point in 15 of its past 18 overall. 

"It shows that we're able to do it," Hunt said. "Obviously we don't want to have to do it, but if we have to, we know we can. He's a great goalie over there, he's having a great season and to be able to do that, I think it gives the guys a lot of confidence."


Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 8, Coyotes 5

Video: Staal leads Wild to thrilling 8-5 win over Coyotes

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