By Craig D. Schroepfer (@CDSWCCO), WCCO Radio
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Last week, the Minnesota Wild hosted the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. Minnesota looked like they didn’t belong on the same ice as Los Angeles rolled to a 4-1 win over the Wild.
A week later, one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, the Montreal Canadiens paid a visit to St. Paul. To make this more of a challenge, the Wild was without its best defenseman Ryan Suter, who was out with the mumps. But Minnesota came to play, out-shooting Montreal 35-19 in a 2-1 win over the Canadiens.
Jason Zucker scored the first goal 19 seconds into the game to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead. The second goal of the game came in the second period when Jason Pominville scored on a deflection from a Christian Folin shot. For Pominville, it was his first goal since Nov. 8.
“It’s weird the way it goes sometimes.” Pominville said. “You battle through a tough stretch and get some looks but can’t find a way. You feel snake-bit. Then you get a puck that gets a fortunate bounce and goes in. Hopefully I can build off that and keep going in that direction.”
Despite the victory, the ugliness of the Wild power played reared its head again in the third period as Minnesota failed to score during a five minute major. Even worse, the Wild didn’t get a shot on goal during the man advantage, leading to a lot of fans voicing their frustration.
Forward Zach Parise didn’t think that it was a big deal.
“We won the game. It doesn’t matter,” Parise said. “We beat the best team in the Eastern Conference (Montreal) and that’s the most important thing.”
Coach Mike Yeo was pleased with the Wild victory considering the circumstances his team was facing.
“This was not going to be a picture perfect game. We were playing a very good team and the absence of Suter was going to be felt,” Yeo said. “I thought we had defensemen who stepped up in his absence and we had forwards who understood what kind of game this was going to be. Playing against Carey Price, goals were not going to come easy.”
When asked about the Wild failing to get a shot on goal during the five minute power play, Yeo said “It’s up to me to figure out how to deal with it and how to correct it. The power play is the one thing keeping us from being an elite team.”
Yeo, however, wasn’t going to let the failure of a five minute power play ruin the victory, saying “The fact of the matter is we win a big game against a really good team without Suter and we did a lot of good things. There are too many positives for our team to focus on right now.”
Minnesota is now 7-2-1 since ending their four-game losing streak last month. More importantly, the Wild beat a good team in Montreal after losing to two of the better teams in the Western Conference, Los Angeles and St. Louis at home last week.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Minnesota as the best team in the Pacific Division, the Anaheim Ducks, visits Xcel Energy Center Friday night.