The Minnesota Wild have three wins past regulation this season, two have come against the Carolina Hurricanes. They completed the extra session sweep of the Hurricanes with a 3-2 shootout victory Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center. Charlie Coyle and Zach Parise scored on the first two shootout attempts for the Wild and Devan Dubnyk stopped 2-of-3 to seal the victory.
The Wild (33-28-11) scored goals by winning puck battles. David Jones got the scoring started by getting position on Noah Hanifin at the top of the crease. That came after Nino Niederreiter won a race and puck battle with Jeff Skinner behind the Hurricanes net.
Jason Zucker beat Ron Hainsey multiple times to get position in front of the net to knock Mikko Koivu’s rebound into a wide open net. He first won a physical to maintain position in the corner then the position battle in front of the net.
“It’s all about winning battles,” Zucker said. “If we’re soft on pucks, they’re going to get them right out of the zone and you’re not going to have those scoring chances. I went into a battle, Charlie came into a battle and I think even Mikko won one all in the same play. The puck just kind of hit me. I had no idea it was coming there. I was just able to get a stick on it. As a line, we all won battles and that was huge.”
The key for the Wild with 11 games remaining in the season and sitting one point behind the Colorado Avalanche for the final wild card spot is going to be winning individual battles. The talk in the locker room was just that, win battles.
“(The talk between periods) was more about winning battles (than being more physical),” Zucker said. “I don’t think it was necessarily go hit guys or be more physical in that sense. It was winning battles. When you’re winning battles, you’re being more physical. Those two kind of go hand-in-hand.”
The Hurricanes (31-27-14) challenged Zucker’s goal that the Wild’s forward was offside at the blue line. However, it was confirmed that Zucker entered the zone in a legal manner. He backed into the zone before the puck, but had full control of it.
Chris Terry got the Hurricanes on the board with a wrist shot on 2-on-1 rush less than two minutes after Jones scored the game’s first goal. Matt Dumba got caught in between playing the shot and the pass after Mike Reilly was trapped in front of the play in the neutral zone.
Jordan Staal sent the game to overtime by depositing a rebound pushed in his direction by Dubnyk into a wide open net with 6 minutes, 51 seconds left in regulation.
No. 3 – Devan Dubnyk. The Wild goaltender stopped 31 shots.
No. 2 – Jason Zucker. The Wild forward scored a goal.
No. 1 – Nino Niederreiter. The Wild forward had an assist.