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Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 6, Jets 5

Late goal by Zucker lifts Minnesota in wild win in Winnipeg

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 6-5 victory against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre in Winnipeg on Tuesday night:

1. Forward Mikael Granlund is budding into an NHL star. His skill was on full display during the opening 20 minutes on Tuesday.

After Winnipeg (28-30-6) took a 1-0 lead just over a minute into the contest, Granlund got the Wild (41-14-6) even two minutes later on a pretty breakaway goal. 

Video: MIN@WPG: Granlund roofs a crafty breakaway goal

He also played starring roles on Minnesota's two other first-period goals as the Wild escaped the frame with a 3-1 lead.

Granlund gained control of the puck in front of Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and tried waiting him out while drifting to his right. He got the puck on his backhand, then attempted a pass to the top of the crease, but it bounced off a skate in front and came right back to him. Now falling down, and with 6-foot-5, 260-pound Dustin Byfuglien draped all over him, Granlund tried the pass again, this time getting it to Tyler Graovac for an easy tap-in.

Video: MIN@WPG: Graovac taps in Granlunds pass in front

He also added a primary assist on Erik Haula's power-play tally late in the period, skating the puck into the offensive zone before deferring to his right and to Haula, who banked the puck in off Hellebuyck's shoulder.

Video: MIN@WPG: Haula banks backhand off Hellebuyck and in

"We were in good shape after the first," Granlund said. "Even after the second. This was one of those games where we know we need to be better, but at the same time, we got two points again. I think that's a pretty good result." 

 

It was Granlund's 15th multi-point game of the season and fifth three-point game of his career. It also moved him into the top 10 in NHL scoring on the season. No player in the League has more points than Granlund's 45 since Dec. 7, a stretch of 36 games.

"It's fun. Every single game, you know you're playing with good players," Granlund said. "You work hard and we work hard and we've been getting results. There is a lot of season left, we just need to keep it going."

2. For the second straight night, Minnesota's newest players made an impact.

Just 24 hours after tallying a goal and an assist in his Wild debut, Ryan White scored another goal late in the second period to give Minnesota a 5-2 lead. 

Video: MIN@WPG: White fires wrister past Hellebuyck

Martin Hanzal also got into the action, dishing out a pair of assists, his first points in the NHL that were not in a Coyotes uniform. 

It was Hanzal's first multi-point game since he scored a pair of goals against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 11. In 10 games since, Hanzal has nine points, including six goals and three assists.

"If you're looking for bright spots, our penalty killing was really good. And I thought Martin Hanzal was really good tonight," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau.

It was the first time this season White has scored goals in back-to-back games. He now has three goals in his past four games overall and at least one point in four of his past five games.

3. The Western Conference's top offensive team continues to churn out goals at a historic pace.

With six goals on Tuesday, Minnesota has 206 in 61 games this season, seven fewer than they had in 82 games a year ago. With 21 games remaining in the regular season, the Wild needs 21 goals to tie its team record of 227 established in 2014-15.

Tuesday marked the 18th time this season that Minnesota scored at least five goals in a game, already seven more times than it did a year ago. That averages out to five goals almost once every third game (29.5 percent). 

Since Dec. 13, the Wild has been even better, reaching five in 15 of 34 games, or 44.1 percent of the time. 

Hellebuyck was lifted for Michael Hutchinson after White's goal, marking the 12th time this season the Wild has forced a mid-game goaltending switch (19.7 percent). 

"The bigger thing is to figure out a way where we don't have to score six to win," said Wild captain Mikko Koivu. "Of course we want to score goals, but that's not our identity. We gotta get back to being good defensively and being tight as a group of five."

Tuesday also marked the first time this season the Wild replaced its goalie mid-game. 

"They've been really great. I just thought the game was getting a little quick for [Kuemper] out there," Boudreau said. "I didn't want to pull him after that fourth goal, but once the fifth goal came, he was pretty rattled. I didn't know if he would be able to withstand the rest of the game."


Loose pucks

• Defenseman Ryan Suter left the game after the first period becuase of injury and did not return. Boudreau did not have any further update on him postgame, describing it only as a "body injury."

Marco Scandella scored his third goal of the season to give the Wild a 4-1 lead early in the second period. He also assisted on Jason Zucker's game-winner with 2:10 remaining in regulation.

• Zucker's goal was his 20th of the season. He is the third Wild player in the past two games to reach the 20-goal plateau (Granlund, Nino Niederreiter).

• Stewart's first-period assist was his 300th NHL point. He later added an assist on White's goal for his first two-point game since Oct. 15, the second game of the season, also against Winnipeg.

Darcy Kuemper made 24 saves on 29 shots before being replaced by Devan Dubnyk in the third period.

• Dubnyk stopped all seven shots he faced and was credited with his League-leading 34th win. Dubnyk is 34-11-3 overall this season, and 27-5-2 since Nov. 23.

• Hutchinson made six saves but was stuck with the loss.

• The Wild improved to 5-3-2 on second night of back-to-backs this season.


He said it

"After the first period, I thought we were really ... We got lucky. It was one of those games where you got lucky." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau


He said it again

"That was pretty impressive; backhand, no-look, through two guys? Unbelievable pass." -- Wild forward Jason Zucker on Erik Haula's pass that set up his game-winning goal


They said it

"There's two or three glaring areas defensively; penalty kill is one of them, number of times in the box is one of them, save percentage is one of them, and chances against is another one. So all of those areas, we need to get better." -- Jets coach Paul Maurice


Dan's three stars

* Mikael Granlund

** Erik Haula

*** Martin Hanzal

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