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Two Matts help Wild get off it Saturday in Winnipeg

Bartkowski scores in Wild debut, Hendricks brings big energy in streak-snapping win over Jets

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe / Wild.com

WINNIPEG -- When your team has lost five-straight games and your own ice time has been at a premium, you'll do just about anything to make a good impression. 

Matt Hendricks didn't find the scoresheet but his energy was instrumental Saturday against his former team the Winnipeg Jets.

Along with Hendricks, defenseman Matt Bartkowski scored a goal in his debut in a Wild uniform, as together, the two Matts helped the Wild get off the mat in a 3-1 win at Bell MTS Place. 

Hendricks, who hadn't been in the lineup in two weeks, was especially motivated on Saturday. Look no further than his shots total; the Blaine native had a total of 10 shots on goal in his previous 12 games this season.

He had four on Saturday, tied with Eric Fehr for the team lead.

Video: MIN@WPG: Fehr seals win with empty-net goal

"We were up for it. It was a big challenge. The opponent over there and playing in this building, it can be tough. We dug in early," Hendricks said. "All the little things kind of came out in our game. We were able to score some big goals at big times and it's a fun win."

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau could tell from the opening puck drop that Hendricks would be an effective piece of the puzzle, both on the ice and on the bench. 

Tweet from @mnwild: Bruce Boudreau on #MINvsWPG 👇 pic.twitter.com/0Wx5iIn88c

"That was one of the reasons we signed him and one of the reasons we played him today is we knew the team was down from the last game. They were pretty defiant today," Boudreau said. "He's such a presence on the bench and in the room, and then he carried it to the ice today."

Good impressions are important for Hendricks, who understands his role as a 12/13th forward on the team, but is never one to be satisfied with it.

"I don't ever want to come out of the lineup," Hendricks said. "[So] I know when I get a chance, I want it to be a good night."

In addition to his energy, Hendricks also had the primary screen on Bartkowski's goal, his first in the NHL since March of 2017.

Video: MIN@WPG: Bartkowski wires wrist shot past Hellebuyck

With Nick Seeler out because of an upper-body injury sustained in the third period at Chicago on Thursday, Bartkowski was recalled from Iowa before the game and made his presence felt immediately.

A good start to the game for Minnesota yielded a lead when the fourth line worked the puck back to Bartkowski at the point, who whistled a shot through traffic and inside the right post for a 1-0 lead.

"Pretty awesome. And we get the win too, so you can't really draw it up any better than that," Bartkowski said. "Worked them low pretty good, the forwards worked them real well down low. The screen from Hendo was unbelievable, I think I could have shot it anywhere and it would have gone in."

Like Hendricks, Bartkowski was an under-the-radar signing for the Wild on July 1. He's been solid in Iowa this season, posting two goals and nine points in 29 games there, but his plus-11 is tied for second-best on the team.

He's no newbie to the League either; the game Saturday was Bartkowski's 254th in the NHL, so the opportunity to get another crack up here isn't lost on him. 

Tweet from @mnwild: Matt Hendricks, Matt Bartkowski, Charlie Coyle, Mikko Koivu & Devan Dubnyk recap a solid road win against Winnipeg. #MINvsWPG pic.twitter.com/lKBP3bgx7I

"It's good, it's always good when you get to play any games in this League," Bartkowski said. "I'm glad they've seen the work I've been doing down there and it paid off, and now I'm here."

Bartkowski had a solid training camp and played in a few preseason games for Minnesota but with the players the Wild had coming back on the blueline, was an extreme long shot to make the NHL roster out of camp.

If he had fallen off the radar of his teammates before Saturday, he certainly is back on it now.

Video: MIN@WPG: Coyle beats Hellebuyck in front

"Regardless of the goal, I thought he played really well. Just very sound," said Wild forward Charlie Coyle, who scored the game-winning goal in the second period. "And the goal obviously helps, coming in and getting that, it helps you settle in a little more, it makes you a little more confident. And he played confident."

The victory was a critical one for Minnesota, both literally and mentally.

Minnesota had fallen four points out of an ever-stuffed Western Conference playoff picture, and with a tough road trip on the horizon following a New Year's Eve meeting with the Pittsburgh Penguins, getting the losing streak off its plate and filling the nets with some pucks is a nice reward.

It also gives the Wild a nice template moving forward.

"It was like a business game. It was just I thought all business from our guys," Boudreau said. "For 60 minutes, top to bottom, I think it's as good as we've played in a long time."


Related:

Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 3, Jets 1

Video: Wild end losing streak with 3-1 win against Jets

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