It’s trite, but maybe Thursday’s 2-1 shootout win over Edmonton can be a turning point to an inconsistent start to the Wild’s season.
As rookie coach Mike Yeo said, Dany Heatley lifted the Wild out of the jaws of defeat by scoring the tying goal with 1.2 seconds left in regulation before the Wild won it in a shootout.
It could be a huge rallying cry heading into Saturday’s game at division rival Vancouver.
It was a perfect ending to another game in which the Wild overcame some shoddy play before taking over in the second half of the game.
“I knew, to start the season, there would be some inconsistency in our game, whether it’s game-to-game, whether it’s within the game,” Yeo said. “I know that’s our toughest challenge as a group — how do we approach every game with the right urgency, mindset and focus? … I didn’t expect it to happen overnight. That’s something you build.”
But against the Oilers, the Wild stuck with it, kept battling and finally pulled out a stunning victory.
“We made some mistakes, but I thought we really took over the game in the second and third,” said Heatley. “I think we felt it was just a matter of time before we would tie it up, and this time we did.”
NHL Team Report – Minnesota Wild – NOTES, QUOTES
–After a disappointing 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Wild coach Mike Yeo resisted the temptation to tinker with the lineup Thursday in Edmonton.
“I do like giving guys a chance to respond,” Yeo said. “It’s tough. We have guys that we want to get into the lineup right now (Nick Johnson, Matt Kassian and Justin Falk) and we have guys that we want to continue to give games to and build some consistency with the group we have.
“We’re trying to juggle those decisions every day.”
–The Wild went 0-for-10 on the power play during a 1-1-1 homestand, but Yeo similarly stuck with his same personnel against the Oilers. The reason?
“We have things in our back pocket that we will look at, but I don’t think our ineffectiveness on the power play in recent games is a matter of personnel. It’s more a mindset,” Yeo said. “He’s referring to a lack of aggressiveness and unwillingness to score the greasy goals.”
–The Wild’s rally Thursday in Edmonton for a 2-1 shootout win was impressive considering it played the final 21 minutes without D Greg Zanon, who aggravated his groin injury, and the final 17 minutes without C Mikko Koivu, who suffered a terrifying gash to his chin and neck.
At 8:17 of the third, LW Dany Heatley was tripped by Oilers C Shawn Horcoff. His skate came up and sliced Koivu, who had stitches from the left side of his chin and neck area all the way to the right side.
But the captain is OK.
“As a team, we seemed to use that as a rallying point, like let’s go get her done,” coach Mike Yeo said of playing without Zanon and Koivu.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “For me, effort is a lot more than skating in a straight line. It’s the second effort, and third effort you show me. If you’re on a forecheck and they move the puck somewhere else, do you say, ‘My job is done now?’ Or do you stay on the hunt, keep pursuing and keep tracking, do whatever you can to create a turnover? It’s jumping on a loose puck and taking a hit to make a play. It’s making a hard play, winning your one-on-one battles.” — Wild coach Mike Yeo, after Wednesday’s practice — one day after a 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh.
NHL Team Report – Minnesota Wild – ROSTER REPORT
–RW Dany Heatley moved to his natural left wing and LW Devin Setoguchi moved to his natural right wing on Thursday in Edmonton. Coach Mike Yeo plans to try this for a while.
“I’ve never really played the left side before, so we were trying it out,” Setoguchi said. “Heater wanted to play right, so I figured I could play left. It’s nice at times and sometimes it’s not, like catching a pass. I’m used to playing the right side and he knows how to play the left, so we’ll see how this works out.”
Yeo also moved Heatley and Setoguchi back to their strong sides because he noticed a tendency of both players skating east-west instead of north with the puck.
“The tendency is to pull it back to the forehand and then look towards the middle of the ice a lot,” said Yeo, who noted that Setoguchi’s two goals through six games came from the right side of the ice.
Heatley lifted the Wild out of the jaws of defeat by scoring the tying goal with 1.2 seconds left in regulation before the Wild won it in a shootout.
–LW Devin Setoguchi has been deferring to his linemates — RW Dany Heatley and C Mikko Koivu.
Coach Mike Yeo wants Setoguchi to “open the door and say, ‘Guys, here I am,’” Yeo said. “You’re playing with two great players, and the mentality is to maybe let those guys do all the work and make the play and then kind of be there when they need you.
“I’d like to see him assert himself and say, “I’m a huge part of this line.’ “
–D Greg Zanon played his 400th NHL game Thursday against Edmonton. The contest was memorable for another reason, however. Zanon had to leave the game in the third period after aggravating a groin injury.
–C Mikko Koivu suffered a deep gash on his chin Thursday when he was cut by LW Dany Heatley’s skate blade. He received several stitches and should be able to play Saturday in Vancouver.
–D Greg Zanon aggravated a groin injury in the third period Thursday against Edmonton and didn’t play the final 21 minutes, including overtime.
–D Mike Lundin (back spasms) missed all of training camp. He has been improving, but he has not yet practiced with the team.
–C Cody Almond (back) missed all of training camp and will be out long term, GM Chuck Fletcher said.
–Greg Zanon, Marek Zidlicky
–Clayton Stoner, Nick Schultz
–Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon
–LW Dany Heatley, C Mikko Koivu, RW Devin Setoguchi
–LW Guillaume Latendresse, C Matt Cullen, RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard
–LW Brett Bulmer, C Kyle Brodziak, RW Cal Clutterbuck
–LW Colton Gillies, C Darroll Powe, RW Brad Staubitz