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Wild finds yet another way to win a game

Minnesota pushes home ice point streak to 12 games, second-best in franchise history

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

ST. PAUL -- Good teams in any sport can win games many different ways. 

Over the past couple of weeks, the Wild has proven it can play like a good team. But the best ones sustain that level of play consistently over a long period of time.

That's the next challenge that awaits the Wild following a 4-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers, a game that once the Wild took the lead almost eight minutes in, never really seemed in doubt.

"It was a weird game. You look at the score clock in the third period the shots were like, 14-7, you're like what is going on," said Wild goaltender Alex Stalock. "They've got an offensive group, and they can skate. It' just one of those nights where the game gets played like that sometimes in an 82-game schedule. Kept them to the outside, our penalty kill was fantastic tonight, we got that back on track.

"It was one of those games where you just kind of chipped away. Fun to win a game like that."

Video: Locker room postgame vs Flyers

The Flyers scored on their first shot of the game less than two minutes in, but Minnesota didn't take long to match when Kevin Fiala's wraparound banked in off Zach Parise's stick at 6:16. 

Just over a minute and a half later, Eric Staal slid a backhander along the ice and past Carter Hart to give the Wild a lead it wouldn't relinquish. 

And for one reason or another, the game never seemed in doubt. The Flyers have a bevy of weapons offensively, but they couldn't seem to get on track Saturday night.

The Wild contained Philly to just 18 shots on goal on the evening in winning in a more "Wild-like" fashion. This just 48 hours after winning a 6-5 track meet against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. 

Video: Bruce Boudreau postgame vs Philadelphia

"Every coach would love to be able to go out every night and score six goals, but I think realistically if you want to win you've got to be able to hold other teams in shots to 25 or under," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "I would love to get back to where we're not allowing more than 30 shots a game."

This season, it hasn't mattered what the Wild has seen on its own ice, its been able to overcome it. 

After a 7-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on the night of its home opener, the Wild has rattled off 12 consecutive games where it has at least one point, putting together a 9-0-3 record during that span.

The streak is the second-longest in franchise history, and it's one the team is proud of.

"It's huge. We talked just before the year started about how important home ice is and about how it's always been an extremely difficult place for other teams to play. We wanted to get back to that," Staal said. "In order to do that we needed to provide results and get the job done and we've done that here lately. When we have that streak going we just want to ride it as long as we can. It was a good job to finish this homestand."

Video: PHI@MIN: Fiala's shot deflects in off Parise's stick

In putting together that home record, the Wild has had to do it in a variety of ways.

The past three games, the Wild dug out of early deficits to get five out of a possible six points. 

It has won in a shootout.

It's won one-goal games. It's won blowouts. It's won by shutting out an opponent. 

Saturday, it won by shutting down an opponent. 

"I think everyone's just buying in. We feel comfortable now," said Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. "The new guys, usually it takes a few games, 20 games or so, to get used to the system and get used to playing with each other. Guys are doing pretty good now."

For years, the Wild prided itself on a home ice advantage that was rivaled by few teams in the League. Even in lean years, Minnesota was always a tough beat on its own ice. 

That changed last season, when the Wild finished 16-18-7 in downtown St. Paul, perhaps the primary reason why the team missed the postseason for the first time in seven years.

After a hiccup on Opening Night, the Wild has managed to get that home-ice advantage back to its historical norms, and it's one reason why the Wild has been able to climb out from under a 1-6-0 start to the year. 

Video: PHI@MIN: Stalock extends skate to rob van Riemsdyk

When the Wild comes home from a three-game road trip next week to begin a stretch of 18 out of 22 games on home ice, it will do so with a record that, at a minimum, will be one game over .500.

Minnesota will spend the week trying to make sure it's much better than that. Whatever way it is able to do so, the Wild will certainly be prepared.

"I think the way we're feeling right now," Stalock said, "the way the group's confidence level is, the way the tightness of this group, how we came together being on the road and how we've stayed positive through the real, real negatives of this, it's taught this group a lot. 

"I think for this group, I've said it since day one, this group never been an underdog group going into the year. It wasn't a must-win, get to the Stanley Cup year. That's what people were saying for this group. They've had it on their shoulders for how many years? 

"To come in being underdogs, I think it's fitting for this group, for people to count us out and for people to say we still got it here."


Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 4, Flyers 1

Video: Staal's two goals push Wild past Flyers, 4-1

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