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Wild Trying To Take Lessons Out Of Opening Win

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

In Head Coach Mike Yeo's words, the Wild's victory on Thursday was the perfect balance of a lesson learned and still coming away with two points.

The Wild fell behind 3-0 after the first period, and trailed 4-1 entering the third before scoring four goals in record-setting 5:07 span (the fastest four goals scored in franchise history) to storm back and defeat the Colorado Avalanche 5-4.

"You do get a win, but you also get a bit of reminder, a bit of a wakeup call as far as the things you need to be doing to be successful," Yeo said. "The beginning of the year for every team, the best teams in the League and the teams that are struggling, it's all the same. You're not going to be on top of your game, and the teams that can get there the quickest are the teams that are going to give themselves the best chance."

Many players described Thursday as a learning experience. Another takeaway was how the Wild's young core continues to grow and mature in different situations.

"You set the tone early, and you give yourself the belief that you're never out of a game early on in the year, and that's really important," Ryan Carter said. "There are 81 left, and we're going to get in spots where we're down, and to have the belief early that you can come back in a game like that, on the road, home-opener, tons of energy in the building, it does a lot for the confidence in the team. "

Wins and losses each come with a short memory, and for the Wild, the focus is now shifted to the home-opener on Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.

Last season, the Wild eliminated the Blues in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in six games. But Yeo said the events of last year don't carry much weight anymore.

"I kind of felt that some of these questions we're going to come, and I was bracing myself for the answer of 'last year was last year,'" Yeo said. "It would be a very big mistake on our part to think we learned lessons and we're in a good spot because of what happened last year."

Potential Lineup Moves

The only skaters who were not on the ice at practice on Friday were forwards Mikko Koivu and Tyler Graovac. Yeo said Koivu was taking a maintenance day, but said it's likely that Graovac will not play Saturday due to an injury.

Yeo said Minnesota has a few options, between playing seven defenseman, calling up a player from Iowa, or possibly getting back Justin Fontaine from injured-reserve. 

Fontaine skated again with his teammates on Friday, but his availability for Saturday is still uncertain. 

"It's exciting any time to get back out there with the guys, get back out there as a team," Fontaine said. "It's a great atmosphere here so if I get that chance, I'm going to be ready to go."

Penalty Kill

All the special teams talk during preseason was focused on the Wild's power play, but in game one, it was the penalty kill (0-for-2) that faltered. 

"Both goals were extremely easy, and that's not our M-O as a penalty-killing group," Yeo said after practice on Friday.

Both power play goals were conceded in the first period, and the Wild were not penalized the rest of the game.

"It will be a work in progress," Yeo said. "We've spent so much time focusing on our power play, and talking about power play, and working on power play, a lot of our penalty killers are also power play guys. Trying to get in the next little while a heavy focus on our PK is going to be important, too."

Gameday Tickets

There's always the possibility of snagging last-second tickets to see the Wild play. There are a few options when it comes to securing those hard-to-get seats, and more information can be found here.

Weekend Road Closures

If you are coming to the Wild home opener on Saturday night, please be aware of major construction announced by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. 

Road closures, including parts of I-94 start at 10 p.m. on Friday, October 9th.

The westbound lanes of I-94 will be closed between Hwy 61 and I-35E. They are expected to reopen to traffic by 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10. At the same time, the ramps will reopen from northbound Hwy 52 to westbound I-94 and from westbound I-94 to southbound Hwy 52.

The eastbound lanes will be closed from Highway 52 to Highway 61 and will reopen by 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 12. Motorists will be able to use Mounds Boulevard to reach the eastbound interstate or take westbound I-94 to reach Mounds Boulevard.

Additional notes include the following:

  • Southbound I-35E ramp to eastbound I-94/ southbound Hwy 52 closed through mid-October
  • Detour: Southbound I-35E to eastbound Hwy 36 to southbound I-694 to eastbound I-94. Continue southbound on I-694 to southbound I-494 to access Hwy 52.
  • Plato Boulevard to northbound Hwy 52 is closed through late-October
  • Watch for closures on the southbound bridge through early October.
  • Northbound Hwy 52 will stay in its current alignment on the east half of the bridge through late October as crews finish work on the driving surface of the northbound bridge. Watch for construction vehicles.

For more information please visit the Minnesota Department of Transportation for its official page on this closure.

Also, there will be a pregame party on Saturday hosted outside the Xcel Energy Center. More information on that even can be found here.

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