Wild vs. Islanders: Minnesota Puts Together a Strong All-Around Effort
The Minnesota Wild had five losses in their last six games heading into Tuesday night’s game against the New York Islanders, prompting head coach Mike Yeo to re-shuffle his lines in an attempt to spark the team’s struggling offense. Despite being out shot by the Islanders 16-6 in the first period, and 36-22 for the game, the Wild scored twice in the opening period to effectively put the game away on their way to a much-needed 6-0 victory.
Ilya Bryzgalov started his second game in goal for Minnesota since being acquired prior to the trade deadline, and he turned aside all 36 of New York’s shots for the 32nd shutout of his career.
The Wild had a well-balanced offensive attack Tuesday night, led by the new-look second line of center Mikko Koivu (three assists), left winger Matt Moulson (two goals, one assist) and right winger Justin Fontaine (one goal, one assist). Defenseman Jared Spurgeon (first period) and Clayton Stoner (third period) added goals for Minnesota, and Mikael Granlund scored the only goal of the second period to put the game out of reach as the Wild started to take control.
The Islanders entered Tuesday night’s action allowing the most goals in the NHL (233), so Minnesota’s offensive explosion after failing to score more than three goals in any of their previous 12 games was not entirely out of the blue. Things will be tougher Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils as they wrap up this road trip, with Olympic captain Zach Parise returning to where he spent the first seven seasons of his career, and some emotions are sure to be attached to that for Minnesota’s best player.
The Wild will need to carry some momentum from Tuesday night’s win into a difficult stretch of upcoming games, starting Thursday night against the Devils. A back-to-back with the Detroit Red Wings is on the slate this coming weekend, and four of their five games after that will be on the road. There is little or no margin for error for the Wild as the regular season winds down, so another losing stretch like what preceded Tuesday night’s game could severely hamper their playoff hopes.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.