Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 5-1 preseason victory against the Winnipeg Jets at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday:
1. In the final tune-up of training camp, the game on Saturday had the feel of a regular-season game.
Perhaps that shouldn't be a surprise; the Wild (3-3-0) and Jets (4-3-0) typically play a physical game when the Central Division rivals get together.
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau had implored his team this week to play more physically. He doesn't need his team to outhit the Jets -- that's simply not how the Wild is built. But he was hoping to see Minnesota finish its checks and stand up for itself. In that regard, mission accomplished. After being credited with just eight hits in a 2-0 loss to Colorado in Denver on Tuesday, the Wild had nearly matched that total through just one period and finished the game with 14.
Video: Charlie Coyle speaks with the media after 5-1 win
Even guys like Jason Pominville, not known for his physicality, got into the act, burying Winnipeg's Alexander Burmistrov with a clean hit near the penalty box towards the end of the first period.
"Tight game, 1-1, headed into the third. We play these guys next week, [you could say] that didn't mean much, but it kind of did and I think we just kind of put that in our minds," said Wild forward Charlie Coyle. "We wanted to send a message right now."
2. It was a big night for Minnesota's roster hopefuls.
Right wing Christoph Bertschy and defenseman Mike Reilly each entered the game locked in battles for an opening night roster spot. Each scored a goal in the victory.
Reilly's goal early in the third period gave Minnesota the lead at 2-1 and came five seconds into the power play. Known for his ability to move the puck, Reilly blasted a shot through traffic in front of Michael Hutchinson, getting help via a screen by Mikael Granlund.
Bertschy's goal a few minutes later was a thing of beauty; the Swiss right winger dangled around a defenseman, then slipped a backhander five-hole to give the Wild a two-goal lead with 14:41 remaining.
"I saw [Zucker] winning the puck and just tried to take the open space. And then I saw [Eriksson] Ek in front of the net, and I thought if we're gonna shoot it right away, it's gonna hit him or somebody in front of the net," Bertschy said. "So I just tried to pull it on my backhand and bring it to the net."
Whether it's enough for both players to make the roster won't be decided until Sunday, but Reilly and Bertschy did their best to make the decision a tough one.
Video: WPG@MIN: Bertschy stickhandles and scores
"Reilly after the first period, I think he struggled in the first period but after the first period, he seems to be a guy that gets confidence when good things happen to him. That was good," Boudreau said. "I thought [the fourth line was] good, they had good energy and I think the fourth line needs to give you good energy. Anytime they can score or come out even is what you want them to do."
3. The Wild's top line of Zach Parise, Eric Staal and Charlie Coyle continued to jell.
Parise got Minnesota on the board with a power-play goal at 10:07 of the first period, and Coyle earned an assist.
After a slow first period against Carolina in their first game together last weekend, the line played a strong final two periods, with Staal and Coyle each scoring in a 3-1 win. They picked up right where they left off against Winnipeg, scoring in the first and threatening several other times.
Coyle capped the goal-scoring for Minnesota in the third, collecting a fantastic cross-zone pass from Staal and shooting into an open goal for his second of the preseason with 5:09 remaining.
"They're getting to know each other," Boudreau said. "The fifth goal was a great goal, great play by Eric, great shot. I always temper it with it's still preseason. I think by that time they just said what the heck, let's go home. We play them next Saturday. They wouldn't give up in the third."
• The Wild power play converted two of its six opportunities, and defenseman Marco Scandella scored two seconds after a penalty expired, blasting a big slapper past Hutchinson at 10:15 of the third period.
• Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk had his best game of the preseason, stopping 17 of 18 shots.
Video: WPG@MIN: Dubnyk stops Ehlers' early breakaway
• Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin finished with two assists.
• Minnesota finished the preseason with a 3-3-0 record, avenging a 4-1 loss to Winnipeg at MTS Center last week.
He Said It
"I think once you get the lead to three and you're on the road, theyre saying, 'It's preseason, let's get the heck out of here.' It was a pretty good game by both teams up til that, I thought. The best part for me is I think we allowed no shots in the last 14 minutes." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau
They Said It
"As a team, I don't think we were nearly as good as we will need to be on a nightly basis. But I think everybody understands that." -- Jets coach Paul Maurice
* Charlie Coyle
** Zach Parise
*** Jonas Brodin