By Patrick Knight - @patknightk102
The Minnesota Wild opened their season with a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in front of the sixth largest crowd (19,298) in team history. It was their 11th consecutive home-opening win.
After an awful first period, in which they were outshot 12-5, the Wild got their skating legs going and outscored the Avalanche 4-1 the final two periods. Momentum seemed to turn after Steve Downie took three penalties in the first 10 minutes of the second period. The Wild finished the game two-for-seven on the power-play including capitalizing on their five-on-three opportunity.
Dany Heatley scored two power-play goals, Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored in his first game back since January 4th, 2012 and rookie Mikael Granlund had his first career NHL goal. Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise each added two assists.
The Wild will have limited time to enjoy their first victory of the season. They take on the Dallas Stars tomorrow night at home; it is the only time the Stars make an appearance in St. Paul this year.
-Random Thoughts –
Suter and Spurgeon
The defensive pairing of Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon struggled in their first game together. The entire team struggled in the first period but the new pair seemed to be a little out of sync with each other at times during the game. They both finished the game with a -1 rating; however, Spurgeon did record an assist for his first point of the year.
After the game, Suter was very honest about their play on the ice.
“We didn’t play too well tonight. It seemed we were chasing the puck a lot. We talked about it and we will get it going and hopefully be better tomorrow.”
Spurgeon agreed with his defensive partner.
“Obviously it wasn’t the first game that we wanted but the only way we can go from here is up. We are looking forward to tomorrow.”
They both said they are looking forward to correcting their mistakes and enjoy the fact they are back on the ice again tomorrow. Hopefully they can get some rest, as they both logged a ton of ice time tonight (Suter – 27:05 and Spurgeon 22:10).
The Wild’s top pick in 2010 (ninth overall) scored his first career NHL goal in tonight’s game. Granlund deflected a Spurgeon shot after Setoguchi made a good pass to Spurgeon. His goal was the first even strength tally for the Wild this year and was sandwiched between a pair of Heatley power-play goals.
After the game, Granlund was very humble about his goal.
“I just got a little luck to tip the puck.” He added that, “It was a great feeling all game and I was so excited the whole time.”
Granlund joined Marian Gaborik as the only Wild players to score a goal in their NHL season opening debut.
You could easily see why the Wild were willing to toss nearly $100 million dollars at Parise this past summer. The things that he does away from the puck and how he creates both space and opportunities for his teammates are special. He is also fearless in wanting to drive the net. Parise showed up on the score sheet with his two assists but he made so many more things happen with his hard work and dedication to detail.
The little things were noticed by head coach Mike Yeo.
“I just love how he attacks the net. He had eight shots on goal tonight. I love the fact that I get to be up here as many times as I am going to be and talk about how good he is.”
After the game, Parise talked about playing at home.
“Had quite a few family and friends (here tonight). It was good. Had a lot of last minute ticket requests.”