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Wild Hoping More Of The Same Leads To Offense

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

COLUMBUS -- It's not often that an NHL team takes 40 shots on goal, and even less often it comes away with only one goal-for.

When the Minnesota Wild registered 40 shots on goal against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, it was the third such instance Minnesota has done so this season through 38 games. In the previous two, the Wild scored three and six goals, respectively.

In the NHL, of the 1,174 total games that have been played entering Tuesday, 89 times a team has taken 40 or more shots. And in those games, 20 times, including the Wild's performance on Sunday night, did the shot total result in one or zero goals-for.

So finishing a four-game road trip against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, Minnesota wants much of the same, knowing well the goals could come.

"We did a lot of things really well last game; we just have to make sure we're not hanging our hat on that," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "There are reasons why we did things well, there are reasons why we had the puck a lot last game, so we have to find a way to do those things, plus a little bit more."

A number of factors can go into that kind of game, including a hot goaltender, luck, and trailing as the game goes on.

The Wild hit all three on Monday, with Al Montoya making 39 saves, Mikko Koivu hitting the post, and Minnesota taking 30 shots over the final two periods in what was either a tie or one-goal game.

"Just the amount of shots we got, and kind of how we played the whole game, there was a good feeling about that," Matt Dumba said. " We've been playing well as of late, but maybe haven't gotten a couple of those bounces, but we're going to keep working hard for them."

The Wild isn't expecting a repeat performance to just happen in Columbus on Tuesday, but should Minnesota create a similar script, it's confident in its chances.

"We did a lot of good things, and worked well as a unit of five," Jason Pominville said. "Our [defense] was active, we kept pucks alive, we were able to get some zone time, but unfortunately we weren't able to put some away.

"The results will come if we keep playing that way."

Minnesota was able to generate a lot of those shots at even-strength, an area the Wild was happy with and, felt it controlled against Florida.

"The biggest thing is movement, and trying to keep the puck off the wall," Pominville said. "If the puck is on the wall all the time, you might have some zone time, but you're not going to get much accomplished. Last game we kept it off the wall, and we were able to make some plays, and just unfortunate we didn’t get rewarded with more goals."

A recent source of Minnesota's shots has been defenseman Matt Dumba. He took a defenseman franchise-record nine shots on goal two games ago against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and then followed that up with five shots against the Panthers.

Twelve of those came on the power play.

"We had some good power plays. I'm kind of hard on myself in a sense of, if you get that many shots, you should put one in," Dumba said. "It could have helped the boys for sure in the games that we were in."

Should Minnesota have another game like it did against Florida, it will be taking those shots on a rookie goaltender. The Blue Jackets are without their top two goalies in Sergei Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney.

Rookie Anton Forsberg is expected to start for Columbus, with rookie Joonas Korpisalo backing up.

"The biggest thing is finding the puck, and sometimes that's tough to do with how fast everything is, and how big everybody is," Devan Dubnyk said. "Any time you can get bodies to the net (is good).

"It doesn't necessarily mean shots are going to the net, but if you can't see the puck, and you can't find the puck, there's a little bit of a sense of panic, and it feels like a lot of havoc."

The net-front is another area Yeo said the Wild could improve.

"For sure that's been hurting us," he said. "Sometimes that happens, and you want to score a goal, and the next thing you know, instead of screening the goalie, you're off to the side trying to get the tip, and so a little bit more focus in that area will certainly help us."

Here is the Wild's projected lineup:

Zach PariseMikko KoivuThomas Vanek

Nino NiederreiterMikael GranlundCharlie Coyle

Jason ZuckerErik HaulaJason Pominville

Chris PorterJarret StollJustin Fontaine

Ryan SuterJared Spurgeon

Marco ScandellaMatt Dumba

Nate ProsserJonas Brodin

Devan Dubnyk

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