Wild Players Shake off Storm Hassles to Top Ottawa
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Daniel Winnik walked the final block to the arena so he wouldn't be late. Tyler Ennis rear-ended teammate Matt Dumba as the two approached Minnesota's Xcel Energy Center. Jonas Brodin arrived just minutes before the pregame warmups because of a blizzard hitting the Twin Cities.
Stripped of their normal pregame routine, the Wild were still plenty prepared to face Ottawa.
Jason Zucker scored for the fourth straight game and Alex Stalock made 37 saves to help Minnesota beat the Senators 3-1 Monday night. Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund also scored for the Wild, who are 4-0-2 in the past six games.
"The monotony of showing up to the rink the same time every day, to break it up and guys are kind of wheeling in whenever, it keeps it light in here and sometimes you need that and a change of pace and I think it helped tonight," Stalock said. "It wasn't an easy game, but we had a good third period."
Matt Duchene scored his seventh goal for Ottawa. Mike Condon made his first start since Dec. 30 and made 33 saves as the Senators lost for the fourth time in five games.
"I thought we gave it a great effort," Ottawa coach Guy Boucher said. "Right away at the start they get that goal and definitely we could've folded in and said it's one of those nights, but I thought it was the opposite. Our guys fought real hard."
The rapid accumulating snow caused several players to arrive to the arena much later than their normal time for preparation, though all were in on the ice for pregame warmups. Some players said their commutes were nearly two hours longer than normal.
As they approached the arena, some received a police escort for the final stretch. The team arranged for valets to come out for others that were stuck in traffic, allowing the players to walk to the arena while someone brought their cars the rest of the way.
"Guys were just kind of throwing gear on, getting dressed and going," Zucker said.
Any late arrivals didn't get the chance to see Parise's second goal of the season and second in two games. He scored just 45 seconds in after Staal cycled around the back of the net and slid the puck across the crease to a wide-open Parise on the back side.
Duchene tied it in the second period after rookie Chris DiDomenico sprung him for a breakaway. Duchene has 14 points in 31 games since he was acquired from Colorado.
"That's one you've got to step on the throat in the third and make sure we have it," Duchene said. "Obviously it's been a tough go and maybe we didn't have the confidence to finish it off there, but we have to be a little more desperate and make sure we get it."
Zucker tied Eric Staal for the team lead with 19 goals this season five minutes into the third for the game-winner in front of a sparse crowd. Granlund assisted on Zucker's goal before adding his own tally five minutes later.
"I think we're pretty desperate when you think about it," Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We need the points. I don't think Ottawa does. We are looking at the scoreboard and seeing Colorado winning and other teams winning. You know this is a game you should be winning. So I think we pushed a little harder in the third."