Wild's third straight win spurred by suddenly explosive offense
NOV 05, 2013 9:10p ET
Konopka netted his first goal in a Wild sweater -- and his first since Dec. 16, 2011 -- and Minnesota got plenty of scoring from the big guns on the top line to rout the visiting Calgary Flames on Tuesday by a 5-1 final. After the game, Konopka joked that Tuesday's goal should open the floodgates for him the rest of the season.
"Hopefully they come in bunches," Konopka said. "I wouldn't bet my life on it."
The goals certainly have come in bunches for the Wild as of late. Tuesday's five-goal output marks the fourth time in the last five games that Minnesota scored at least four goals.
Remember when the Wild couldn't bury the puck in the net early in the season despite outplaying their opponents? Those days now seem long ago for Minnesota, which improved to 9-4-3 on Tuesday with its third straight win.
"That's how it works. I don't think anyone's got the solution for that," said forward Zach Parise, who scored twice and added an assist in Tuesday's win. "We'd all love to play 82 games where we're putting in four or five (goals), but it doesn't happen. I think we're playing with a little more confidence when we have the puck."
This was the type of breakout game the Wild had been hoping for from Minnesota's top line of Parise, captain Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle. That trio delivered, combining for seven points on the night. It was Koivu who evened the game in the first period after Calgary took an early 1-0 lead. Minnesota's captain buried a backhand shot off a Parise rebound to even things up at the 9:07 mark of the first period.
Early in the second, Parise put the Wild ahead for good with defenseman Ryan Suter and Koivu assisting on the power play goal. Justin Fontaine made it a 3-1 game at the 8:05 mark in the third as he scored his fifth of the season.
That's when things got fun for the Wild. Just 33 seconds later, Konopka took a pass from Torrey Mitchell and buried it past Flames goalie Reto Berra for his first goal since joining the Wild last season.
"I think the bench was pretty fired up, to be honest with you. There were a lot of smiles there," Wild coach Mike Yeo said of Konopka's goal. "That line's been playing well, regardless of who's been on it. … When guys are going out there and battling for each other, you want everybody to get rewarded, and it's good to see him get rewarded too."
Parise's second goal of the night was easily the prettiest goal of the contest for Minnesota. Koivu skated into the zone and passed to Parise, who dropped a pass back to Suter. The Wild defenseman fired a shot on net and Koivu collected the rebound in the slot. He then saw Parise streaking toward the net from the left faceoff circle and fired what Parise called a "world-class pass" by Koivu -- who had his first multi-point game of the season -- to set up Minnesota's fifth and final goal of the night.
"You always like when you get those on your tape and the goalie's sliding the other way," Parise said. "It was such a nice play by those guys, and I just happened to be the recipient. ... That was a little bit of a gift."
In Minnesota's first 10 games, the Wild scored two or fewer goals eight times. Following Tuesday's five goals, the Wild now rank 15th in the NHL in goals per game (2.69), a big jump from where they were a few weeks ago.
The Wild never panicked when scoring was an issue early in the year, believing they had the horses to carry the load on offense. Tuesday, Parise, Koivu and company proved that to be the case.
"The goals that they scored, you could have taped Patrick Roy, ( Ed) Belfour and ( Martin) Brodeur together and we wouldn't have won that game," said Flames coach Bob Hartley. "They were so much better than us, they deserved the two points."
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