Very strong game last night from the Wild who were one cleared zone at the end of a penalty kill away from completely shutting down the Fowl. Even with that one play, it's hard to say anything other than the Wild played one of their strongest whole-team performances of the season.
Backstrom was very strong, made a couple spectacular saves (which he has not been doing with any regularity this season) and really had a positive impact on the game - which we need from him. Rolston, PMB, Gaby and Demo in particular were strong on offense, and Nick Schultz was great on defense.
Koivu took another big step towards recapturing his pre-injury form, and chipped in a goal off a nice feed from Demo.
The most intriguing part of the win to me was that, once the Wild had the Fowl by the throat, they didn't let up and put the game away definitively with a very tight third period.
Sure, it wasn't the best game Anaheim has ever played, but take nothing away from the Wild.
That kind of killer instinct is going to be so important down the stretch. The ability to win games in regulation - and not give out the free point - could very well be the difference between winning the division and finishing 3rd (with home ice advantage in at least the first round) or not winning the division and finishing anywhere from 6th to 10th.
Overall: Wild win 3-1-0 (GF 14, GA 7)
In Minny: split 1-1-0 (GF 7, GA 5)
In Anaheim: Wild win 2-0-0 (GF 7, GA 2)
CHICKEN LITTLE SAYS: The power play was brutal last night...thank God they didn't need it.
POLLYANNA SAYS: 6-3-1 in their last 10, it's starting to come together!
BOTTOM LINE: Decisive 2-points from the defending champs.
STUD: Backstrom has taken some heat here this season for inconsistency. Last night he was the goalie we saw last season and need from him now. His rebound control was terrific.
DUD: Johnsson's worst game in a while, and it wasn't just the goal.
Next up: To C-Bus for a BJ. I will be in attendance with my wife, and will offer up a full report on Nationwide Arena, the game, the locals, etc.