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Happy Thanksgiving to all of our followers out there. We hope you’ve had a safe and fun holiday so far. As shoppers rush out for Black Friday deals, the smarter folks will shop small and local or just enjoy the warmth and Thanksgiving leftovers from the comfort of home. Nothing like making that mashed potato turkey sandwich on the day after the big feast.
Speaking of home, Wild fans get a chance for a matinee home game against the Ottawa Senators after returning from a 3-game Eastern Conference road trip. The Wild have earned points in their last 7 games. Can they keep that streak going this afternoon against the Senators?
1st Period Thoughts: I was at the game and instead of trying to recall everything first hand I’m going to leave these Twitter reflections and then chime in my recollections at the end of each period.
I thought the Wild had decent energy to start the game. All of their lines seemed to be moving well. They had a bunch of close calls offensively where they just couldn’t quite get to the loose pucks in and around the Senators’ crease. But in classic hockey karma fashion, the Wild’s inability to bury the biscuit would be repaid by a fluke-y goal by Ottawa to give them a 1-0 lead. Even though Minnesota trailed by one I still felt if the Wild kept getting the chances offensively it was only a matter of time before they take this game back.
2nd Period Thoughts: After killing off a Senators penalty to start the period the Wild seemed to lack a little bit of energy a bit and it appeared the Senators might be able to take the lead. The game appeared to be at a bit of a tipping point momentum-wise and it was the 4th line that provided the initial spark.
Ryan Donato is such a teaser. He had been struggling in handling pucks earlier in the shift and then he makes this goal look so easy as he deposited the backhander in a pretty small window above the shoulder of Anders Nilsson. 1-1 game.
The Wild’s line of Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Kevin Fiala found themselves being outworked and they iced the puck. Then on the ensuing draw in the Wild zone, they would get caught standing around a bit and Ottawa would re-take the lead as Parise lost his defensive coverage on Brady Tkachuk who buried it by Alex Stalock. 2-1 Senators.
The ‘ZZ Top’ line answered right back as Eric Staal skates into the Ottawa end, pumps the breaks and finds a trailing Mats Zuccarello who sent a puck towards the front of the goal that was redirected perfectly by a crashing Jared Spurgeon to tie it up at 2-2. It was a perfect bang-bang play that Nilsson had no chance to stop.
This was a Wayne Gretzky-style below the goal line kind of goal where Parise banked the puck off the goaltender and in. 3-2 Wild. Minnesota went back on the attack and the 4th line again provided great energy and even created some excitement offensively.
It was a great rally by the Wild to take the lead and they did so by taking pucks to the high traffic areas of the ice. At this point you, as a fan you’re feeling pretty good about how the team responded but you also know your team is holding onto a 1-goal lead and you never feel completely safe in situations like that.
3rd Period Thoughts: The 3rd period was a bit dicey at the start. The Senators were flying around working hard for the equalizer and they appeared to have it as Nikita Zaitsev stepped into a slap shot.
Luke Kunin’s breakaway goal gave Minnesota the cushion it needed and the confidence to take this game over.
This was an absolutely beautiful goal. Ryan Hartman made a bit of a toe drag around a defender and then fired a laser of a shot top shelf that really got the 17,112 fans in attendance out of their seats. It was the kind of skilled finish that we hope to see more from Ryan Hartman. But Minnesota wasn’t done there.
Seeing Matt Dumba and Brady Tkachuk tangled up, one could not help but think of last year in Dumba’s ill-fated fight with Calgary’s Matt Tkachuk (Brady’s older brother) and how that helped send Minnesota’s season into a death spiral. I think everyone was relieved when the officials stepped in and broke up the scrum before any punches were thrown.
Minnesota would add another on the power play as Jason Zucker lit the lamp to seal a 7-2 rout.
Even though he didn’t end up on the stat sheet, I thought Carson Soucy had an outstanding game. He used his size and reach very effectively and I felt he was solid at both ends of the ice. Its great to see his confidence growing with each game and even though that might not be great news for Greg Pateryn, I think Soucy’s earned that spot.
On the last shift of the game, Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau put out the 4th line which was fitting since they really had a great game and provided the initial spark to get Minnesota going. I thought Ryan Donato, Ryan Hartman and Victor Rask did a decent job at working pucks into the Senators zone and while the two goals were a nice bonus I felt they helped Minnesota build momentum that fed into the Wild taking this game over. Yes, its the Ottawa Senators, but it was nice to see the team play as well as it did and taking care of business instead of looking like a team that had too much turkey the day before.
~ The Wild roster this afternoon was as follows: Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Eric Staal, Mats Zuccarello, Jason Zucker, Kevin Fiala, Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek, Luke Kunin, Ryan Donato, Victor Rask, Ryan Hartman, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Carson Soucy and Brad Hunt. Kaapo Kahkonen backed up Alex Stalock. Nick Seeler was the lone scratch.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star Jared Spurgeon, 2nd Star Eric Staal (who played in his 1,200 NHL game), 3rd Star Alex Stalock
~ Attendance was 17,112 at Xcel Energy Center.
Wild Prospect Report:
C – Matt Boldy (Boston College, H-East) ~ the Wild’s top pick from this summer has had a slow start as he registered an assist in Boston College’s 6-2 win over Yale on Tuesday. Boldy has a goal, 2 points, 4 PIM’s and is a +1 in 12 games.
D – Marshall Warren (Boston College, H-East) ~ the smooth-skating defenseman had a goal in the Eagles’ 6-2 win over Yale. Warren has 2 goals, 4 points, 14 PIM’s and is a +5 in 12 games.
C – Damien Giroux (Saginaw, OHL) ~ the versatile center had a goal on 2 shots and went 6-for-11 on his draws in the Spirit’s 8-3 win over in-state rival Flint. Giroux has 15 goals, 25 goals, 10 PIM’s and is a -9 in 23 games.
RW – Shawn Boudrias (Cape Breton, QMJHL) ~ the power forward had a secondary assist on 3 shots in the Eagles’ 4-3 shootout loss to St. John on Wednesday. On Thanksgiving the Terrebonne, Quebec-native had 2 goals on 4 shots in Cape Breton’s 4-2 loss to Shawinigan. Boudrias has 15 goals, 30 points, 36 PIM’s and is a +15 in 25 games.
C – Alexander Khovanov (Moncton, QMJHL) ~ the skilled winger had an assist on 4 shots and went 7-for-14 on his draws in Moncton’s 4-1 win over Val ‘d Or on Thanksgiving. Khovanov has 17 goals, 39 points, 42 PIM’s and is +24 in 21 games.