Wild’s Scoring Depth Delivers Win Over the Red Wings

On the evening of Dec. 14 right before the second half of a snowstorm and on Military Appreciation Night, the Minnesota Wild took on the Detroit Red Wings in snowy St. Paul. The Wild were just coming off one of their most well-rounded wins of the year over the Edmonton Oilers. The Red Wings on the other hand were on the second half of a back-to-back, that started with a rough 1-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Wild didn’t look quite as composed as they did against the Oilers, but they still got the job done. Things weren’t too exciting to start the game but they finally found a way past Magnus Hellberg towards the end of the first period to make it 1-0. They held the lead and added another goal just under halfway through the second that appeared to halt the Red Wings, but only for a short time. With a few minutes left in the second, the Red Wings snuck one past Wild goaltender Filip Gustavsson and were right back in the game.

The hope that goal gave the Red Wings lasted just 16 seconds when the Wild’s Mats Zuccarello tallied the Wild’s third goal as he was being pulled down to the ice. The Red Wings came alive again in the third but the Wild were able to hold them off and add one more goal for good measure to record their third straight win 4-1.

Wild’s Scoring Depth

The Wild’s goal-scoring didn’t come from just their top line, their goals and assists came from all around the lineup. Their main star of the night Frédérick Gaudreau – who scored two of their four goals – got back on the scoresheet after being held pointless in the previous five games. His first goal extended his team’s power play streak to three straight games. His second goal was an empty netter and it was his second multi-point game of the season.

The second goal scorer for the Wild, Matt Dumba has struggled to gain any points this season but he got some help from the “GREEF” line to score his third goal of the season. He was monitoring his point position when he saw an opening and broke into the zone just in time to catch a pass from Jordan Greenway.

Jordan Greenway Minnesota Wild
Jordan Greenway, Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The third and final goal scorer was Mats Zuccarello, and while his linemate Kirill Kaprizov is usually the one tallying goals, this time it was his turn. He now has 10 points in the last eight games with only two of those points being goals. The Wild also got assists from Sam Steel, Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Foligno, Greenway, Kaprizov, and Jared Spurgeon.

Wild’s “GREEF” Line Finds Chemistry

The Wild’s line of Greenway, Eriksson Ek, and Foligno had great success last season but this season has been a bit of a struggle. The main reason has been Greenway’s injury issues, out of 29 games played, he’s played in just 13 this season with the rest missed due to different injuries. Now that he’s healthy they were able to piece that line back together but of course, it took a little bit of time to reach the chemistry they had before.

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That line showed how truly powerful they can be during their game against the Red Wings, specifically on Dumba’s goal. Eriksson Ek saw an opportunity after a quick takeaway and threw the puck down the boards to his waiting linemate Greenway. Then Greenway had to battle along the boards with his back turned but was able to turn his head in time to see Dumba streaking to the middle and made the perfect pass.

While the entire GREEF line has been getting better, Greenway has been steadily improving with each game he plays. He was even given some time on the power play and while he only has one goal on the season, if he can keep up his great play he will start to score more goals.

Wild Step up Physically

The Wild and Red Wings were not shy about throwing their weight at each other all throughout the game. It was one of the Wild’s most physical games of the season with 25 hits, just six shy of their season-high 31, while the Red Wings had 27. There was some drama early on as the Wild’s new physical presence, Ryan Reaves threw a hit on Filip Hronek. The referees deemed it was a clean hit and there was no penalty. However, Hronek did not return to the game.

That hit sparked both teams to step up their physicality and thankfully the Wild were able to respond without going overboard like they had done earlier in the season. They seemed to have found the right balance of hitting and skating to be successful and they did that against the Red Wings. That high number of hits may not work against every team but they were able to defend themselves cleanly in this one. They also learned they’ll have to adjust their physicality based on their opponent to be successful.

Wild Face Blackhawks

The Wild will continue their homestand on Friday, Dec. 16 when they take on the Chicago Blackhawks for the second time this season. The first time was too close of a call for the Wild, as they won in a shootout after giving up a lead early in the game. They’ll need to continue to play the way they have in the last week to ensure they don’t give up any leads they may get.

That includes finding a way to shut down Patrick Kane, Max Domi, Jonathan Toews, and Taylor Raddysh. However, they’ll also have to find a way to get past Petr Mrazek or Arvid Soderblom in net. The Wild may need to rely on their physicality to get the win as that’s how the Blackhawks nearly defeated them back in October with 28 hits to the Wild’s 15. It’ll be interesting to see if they can continue to harness their physicality successfully and get their fourth win in a row for just the second time this season.

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