The Minnesota Wild had their hands full to open their game against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday evening. The Coyotes stole the first goal of the night that started a rough first period for the Wild. Following that first period, the Wild fixed their issues and had a smooth second period that added three straight goals in their favor. They had to fight off a Coyotes comeback attempt late in the third but made it out with their fourth straight win.
The Wild were dealt a slight blow before the game started with the last-minute scratch of Frederick Gaudreau due to COVID protocol. Due to injury, they were already without captain Jared Spurgeon and Mats Zuccarello, which forced them to bring up defenseman Calen Addison in Gaudreau’s place. Despite all the player shuffling, they didn’t seem phased once they found their normal level of play and had strong production from their top two lines.
Even their backup goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen, who got the start in goal against the Coyotes, played well. He had 29 saves out of 31 shots with a save percentage of .935 for his third win of the season. Each game he’s played in since the start of the season, his stats have improved.
Wild’s Top Lines Produce
The Wild’s top two lines stepped up big in the scoring department, they contributed four of the team’s five goals, and three were from the second line. Joel Eriksson Ek got out of his points drought when he scored the Wild’s first of the game that tied it up shortly after the Coyotes had taken the lead. He also managed to stay away from the penalty box. Additionally, his line had goals from Jordan Greenway and Marcus Foligno, it was Foligno’s third straight game with a point.
Another player who’s been on a point streak is first-liner Kirill Kaprizov. He scored his seventh goal of the season and tallied his 18th assist for 25 points, plus he kept a hold on the team lead. His recent point streak also had him tied for sixth in the league for points as of last night. There was one more player who scored a goal that was not on the second line, and that was defenseman Jonas Brodin. He scored his third goal of the season and tallied his first multi-point night as well. He was one of four players to have a multi-point night.
Wild’s Greenway Earned His Goal
The Wild’s Jordan Greenway stepped up big in their win and recorded two firsts this season. He’s been successful in the physical areas of his game the majority of the season, but his scoring lacked. This win jumpstarted the scoring portion of his game. He not only scored his first goal of the season but also tallied his first multi-point game.
Before this game, he hadn’t tallied a point in nearly two weeks, and before that, it had been almost a month. This was a gritty game, and exactly the type of game Greenway succeeds in. He’s the main reason the Wild were able to score their first goal. His hard work to keep the puck in the offensive zone made it possible for Eriksson Ek to pick it up and work his goal-scoring magic. Greenway’s hard work didn’t stop there, he also tied for second on the team with hits, the only player to record more was Addison.
Wild’s Addison Plays Forward
Calen Addison was summoned to the Wild’s roster for the second time this season, however, this game, it wouldn’t be in his typical position of defense. He instead would be put on the right-wing in place of Gaudreau, opposite of Kevin Fiala and centered by Victor Rask. He transitioned quite smoothly, and it was hard to believe it was the first night he played forward for the Wild.
Depending on how long Gaudreau has to be out, Addison may stay a little longer since he did such a good job filling the spot for the Wild. He had already proven to be an asset on defense earlier this season, but now he’s proved he can play in nearly any position. Since the team had been working well before this, he’ll more than likely be sent back down when they can get a forward to take his place or Gaudreau comes back. However, his play should secure him the first spot on being called up when needed.
Wild Continue Homestand
The Wild have two more games left on their homestand before heading on the road for another trip to the west coast. They’ll play the New Jersey Devils for the second and final time of the regular season, a little over a week after their first meeting, where the Wild snuck out with a win. Their final home game before the road trip will be against the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first time this season. If the Wild can avoid their first-period woes and continue to get the recent scoring production from their top lines, they shouldn’t have a problem with either the Devils or Maple Leafs and finish their homestand undefeated.
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Mariah Stark (Holland) is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW. She’s been covering the Wild at THW since October of 2020 and specializes in game takeaways and weekly check-ins. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team to help fans connect on a more personal level and to keep an eye on the latest follow her on Twitter @MariahEStark.