Zucker Strikes Twice As Wild Prevail 3-2 Over Winnipeg

Zucker Strikes Twice As Wild Prevail 3-2 Over Winnipeg

NHL

Zucker Strikes Twice As Wild Prevail 3-2 Over Winnipeg

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I was not real surprised to see that the Wild suffered from an offensive ‘power outage’ of sorts when facing the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night.  Many of its highly paid forwards are in scoring droughts that have lasted 10 games or longer and while some may be tempted to correlate that to Matthew Dumba‘s injury it shouldn’t take his presence for many of these players to bury the plethora of chances they’ve had since got hurt.

The Wild’s inability to score comes as the Winnipeg Jets make their way to St. Paul.  The Jets do not have any problems scoring and have talent, skill, speed and size all through its lineup.  Can Minnesota highly paid players finally re-discover some of their offense or will we see more empty ‘pledges to be better’ after another loss?

1st Period Thoughts:  The Wild got out to an auspicious start as Mikael Granlund got victimized by a terribly weak roughing call for battling along the wall for a puck with the Jets’ Jacob Trouba.  Minnesota’s penalty kill did a good job of pressuring the Jets’ power play unit and being mindful of Patrik Laine all set up in the the ‘Ovi-kitchen’ (thanks @Nostrakennius).  The Wild would have the best scoring chance; shorthanded as Joel Eriksson Ek worked the puck out of the zone where he dropped a pass back to Zach Parise who then sent a pass to Nick Seeler who then dished it back to Parise for a backhander that was stopped by Connor Hellebuyck.  Minnesota got the big kill and they’d go on the attack on the next shift and after some nice work down low by Eric Staal to Jared Spurgeon who swung a pass out front to Jordan Greenway who fired a shot by Hellebuyck.  1-0 Wild.  The Wild would continue to apply pressure and Granlund would draw a penalty to give Minnesota a chance to add to its lead on the man advantage.  Minnesota looked hungry and poised on the man advantage as Parise nearly cashed in off an errant pass as he batted a puck out of mid air that Hellebuyck steered wide.  Moments after that the Wild would set up Spurgeon for a one-timer that Hellebuyck was able to block away and Minnesota would come up empty on the power play.  Minnesota was showing a willingness to take the body and take a hit at times to make a play which was refreshing and good to see because you can’t play timid and expect to win against a club like Winnipeg.  The Wild had good puck support and they were forcing turnovers in the Winnipeg zone with a fair amount of frequency.  A good forecheck by Jason Zucker would force a turnover and the puck would be worked out front to Granlund who got off a quick shot that Hellebuyck directed up into the netting behind the goal.  Devan Dubnyk wasn’t particularly busy and the Wild were doing a terrific job at getting bodies and sticks into shooting lanes, blocking most of the Jets’ attempts.  A late penalty by the Wild gave Winnipeg a chance to tie it up late and they had a few quality shooting opportunities for their key offensive weapons in Laine, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele.  Dubnyk would come up with a few nice stops and the Wild penalty killers did the rest.  Wheeler would find Scheifele late on a stretch pass and he was able to get a half step on Nate Prosser and drove to the net but Dubnyk would keep out the puck before Schiefele collided with the Wild goaltender sending the net off its moorings.  Overall a great start for the Wild.

2nd Period Thoughts:  The Jets were sitting back into a bit of a neutral zone trap, hoping to force some turnovers and initially it was working as the Wild were a bit careless with the puck.  The Wild would regroup and go back on the attack and Parise forced a turnover as he fed a puck over to Luke Kunin who got off a quick shot that rang off the corner of the goal and up and over the glass.  Minnesota continued to outwork the Jets in their own end and the Wild were peppering Hellebuyck with shots.  Spurgeon would find Niederreiter with a long stretch pass that would spring him for a breakaway but he’d send his shot high and wide of the goal.  The Wild’s hard work would draw a penalty as Staal was tripped up by Kyle Connor.  A weak pass by Niederreiter nearly turned into a disaster as Adam Lowry swept up the puck and raced down the ice on a partial breakaway and he’d rifle a shot on goal that rang off the post.  The Wild would cash in with the man advantage late as Zucker tapped in a shot that Hellebuyck had no chance on.  2-0 Wild.  The Wild continued to dictate the pace of play and Minnesota kept taking any chance to send shots on goal.  A tripping call on Zucker gave the Jets a chance to mount a comeback but tremendous puck pressure by the Wild’s penalty killers.  Time and space were non-existent a big shot block by Zach Parise would yield the big kill and the Wild would attack as soon as it expired as Ryan Suter found Zucker leaving the box with a stretch pass that he tracked down and then raced in on a breakaway as he went forehand to backhand to score.  3-0 Wild.  With the crowd relishing the Wild’s strong play the Jets would finally dent Minnesota’s lead as a point shot by Dmitry Kulikov would be partially blocked and gathered up by Brandon Tanev who swung a wrist shot that ramped off the stick of Prosser and over the shoulder of Dubnyk.  3-1 game going into the 3rd period.  Despite Jets’ goal, the Wild still have a lot to feel good about with how the performed in the offensive zone and on the penalty kill.

3rd Period Thoughts:  The Jets looked to want to carry the pace of play early in the 3rd period and the Wild did their best to get sticks on pucks and give Winnipeg little in the way of time and space on the ice.  Marcus Foligno would level Kulikov with a huge check as the physical intensity started to pick up steam.  The Jets pressure would draw a hooking call on Foligno.  The Wild penalty kill was again superb, forcing the Jets to move the puck along the perimeter and denying any attempts to send shots on goal or working it to the middle of the ice.  Not only did the Wild kill off the penalty, but the Jets wouldn’t even register a single shot with the man advantage.  A few minutes later, Granlund would have a chance to put a nail in the coffin as Suter found him with a pass but his backhander went off the post and out.  Dubnyk was doing a great job of giving up no rebounds and not giving the Jets any possibility of a 2nd chance.  The Wild were content to sit back and defend almost daring the Jets to make this a game.  Winnipeg would cut the Wild lead to one as Bryan Little managed to tie up Greg Pateryn right in front of the Wild crease, and as they ‘danced’ in front of Dubnyk a blocked shot just sat a few feet away and Scheifele would skate over and gather up the puck and fire it in.  3-2 game with a host of Wild players just sort of standing around.  The Jets would pull Hellebuyck with about 2 minutes left looking for the equalizer but Minnesota would lock it down with better defensive play and found away to get enough sticks and bodies on pucks to skate away with a victory.

Wild Notes:

~ The Wild roster was as follows: Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Luke Kunin, Jordan Greenway, Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, Marcus Foligno, Matt Hendriks, Joel Eriksson Ek, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Greg Pateryn, Nick Seeler and Nate Prosser.  Alex Stalock backed up Devan Dubnyk.  J.T. Brown was the lone scratch.

~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star Jared Spurgeon, 2nd Star Jason Zucker, 3rd Star Devan Dubnyk

~ Attendance was 19,072 at Xcel Energy Center.

Iowa Wild Report:

Iowa 4, San Antonio 5

It was a crazy back and forth game in San Antonio on Wednesday night.  San Antonio seemed to have the advantage in terms of jump in their skates as Kaapo Kahkonen found himself under siege through the first 6 minutes of the game.  Iowa would rally back and light the lamp as Brennan Menell got his first goal of the season on a shot taken off the rush.  The Rampage would answer back a few minutes later as Mackenzie McEachern scored on a wrist shot that beat Kahkonen.  Iowa would then respond with a goal of their own a minute later as Carson Soucy blasted a shot from the point that found the twine behind Jared Coreau.  The Rampage would rally back, helped in part to some Wild penalties.  Two nearly back-to-back penalties on Justin Kloos and Matt Bartkowski gave the Rampage an opportunity and they’d take it as Ryan Olsen got a puck in the slot and sort of spun and let go a shot that beat Kahkonen to tie the game at 2-2 going into the 1st intermission.  With the Bartkowski penalty still in effect at the start of the 2nd, the Rampage would take the lead just 50 seconds in as Joey Laleggia went top shelf on Kahkonen.  3-2 San Antonio.  Iowa would tie it back up a few minutes later as Sam Anas scored his first goal since returning from injury about 2 weeks ago.  Unfortunately Iowa’s offense would stall out and San Antonio would answer with two more goals from Conner Bleackley and another from McEachern to take a 5-3 lead into the 3rd period.  Iowa would try to make a strong push in the 3rd period; carrying most of the play in the final period.  Soucy would bury his 2nd goal of the night to cut the Rampage lead to one, but that’s as close as it got as the Wild fell 5-4.  Kahkonen had 23 saves in the loss.

Wild Prospect Report:

D – Jacob Golden (London, OHL) ~ the Toronto-native had an assist and 2 PIM’s in London’s 7-5 loss to Guelph on Tuesday night.  Golden has 2 goals, 10 points, 6 PIM’s and is a +4 in 34 games.

C – Connor Dewar (Everett, WHL) ~ the Silvertips’ captain continues to be a force offensively on the ice by scoring a goal and chipping in two helpers on 2 shots.  But he does have some areas to round out his game as he went 8-for-21 on his draws.  Dewar has 29 goals, 55 points, 50 PIM’s and is a +21 in 38 games.

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