Sometimes, experimenting with the three parts of a hockey forward line works. Moving players around can awake stagnating production or create a new trio of go-to guys. But sometimes, it doesn’t really work out in the end and the experiment is scrapped.
That’s the case with the top line for the Minnesota Wild. Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley and Zach Parise (seen above together) compose the team’s top line and weren’t doing so well when separated, so coach Mike Yeo put them back together and reaped the benefits against the Colorado Avalanche.
Parise had Minnesota’s first goal of the night, Koivu put up the go-ahead goal late in the third and helped Parise on his tally, Heatley had two assists and, combined, the top trio put up a +6 rating. Parise and Koivu were also Minnesota’s shooters in the shootout, but neither of them managed to score while Milan Hejduk and Matt Duchene were both able to score and deliver the Avalanche a 4-3 win.
The two teams played a very clean-nosed game. Between the two of them, there were only three penalties and the refs never blew the whistle to signal one at all during the first period. Even with tough guy and pet rabbit-loving Zenon Konopka on Minnesota’s lineup, all he got was a two-minute minor for roughing.
The Wild were playing from behind for part of the second period–no one scored in the first, but Colorado got the first goal–but were able to battle forward for a two-goal lead in the third thanks in part to Mike Rupp‘s first goal as part of the Wild. In the end, though, they fell just short of the win.
The good news for the Wild is that they get a few days off before their next game. After playing back-to-back on the road and then traveling back home this week, they can regroup and practice before the Detroit Red Wings come to town for a 6 p.m. Eastern game on Feb. 17. Look for Koivu, Heatley and Parise to continue being together as the dynamic top trio.