(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
By Ryan Donaldson // @RADonaldson
Thursday morning Mike Yeo chatted on FM 100.3 the FAN with Paul Allen on the state of this Wild club. Despite riding the momentum of a 3 game winning streak heading into Thursday's game Yeo said "I'm never going to feel content and feel like we've arrived". That is the mentality the coach has illustrated in the first half of this up and down season, and Minnesota showed their grit on the ice during their Thursday night road test in Phoenix.
Niklas Backstrom got the nod between the pipes, much to the surprise of many, after youngster Darcy Kuemper performed extroardinarily just two nights ago. Backstrom played strong in the opening frame. Niklas had the help of the pipe behind him on what seemed to be a sure goal for Phoenix, but it clanked off the pipe, and the game remained scoreless. Late in the first, the shots mounted for the Coyote's but Backstrom stood on his head and kept Phoenix off the scoreboard.
Just before the period ended, Fontaine pick-pocketed a Coyote defensemen for a gift-wrapped scoring chance that he cashed in to put the Wild up 1-0 through one.
The Wild found themselves down a man early in the second period. The Coyotes peppered Backstrom during the man-advantage eventually finding the back of the net to tie the game at 1 a piece.
The lone 2nd period goal was the only offense of the back and forth frame as both teams failed to gain an edge on the opponent before the final 20 minutes.
Just three minutes into the 3rd period of play, Kyle Brodziak fired a wrister past the outstretched glove of Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith, putting the Wild back on top 2-1 on the scoreboard. Minutes later, Haula just failed to click after a feed from stoner during a 4 on 2 rush that would have given Minnesota a nice two-goal cushion. However all was not lost, the 4 on 2 rush caused a
The old saying is the best defense is a good offense, and Minnesota exhibited that truth to it's fullest extent over the final 20 minutes of regulation. Phoenix was hard-pressed toto generate anything in Minnesota's defensive zone as most of the 3rd period was spent in front of the Phoenix net. The Wild would have been content to skate out the final two minutes with the Phoenix net vacant with Smith pulled. However the fireworks weren't done, Justin Fontaine added an empty net goal for his 3rd of the game, notching the 2nd Wild hat trick in 3 games, and securing Minnesota's 4th win in a row.
Kyle Brodziak had the go-ahead goal in the third period and was with Tom Reid after the game "It was a big win for us, two teams tied in the standings...Backstrom was phenomenal tonight, they were pressing hard, and he kept us in the game so the credit goes to him" Brodziak also complimented the hat trick scorer Justin Fontaine "He's a great kid, it's good for him. He's a heck of a hockey player" Fontaine was the first Wild rookie to tally a hat trick in team history.
Despite the absence of stars Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, and Josh Harding over this winning stretch, Minnesota will try to ride this new-found momentum back home on Saturday Night when they play host to the Avalanche. Pre-game can be heard on FM 100.3 the FAN or on iHeartradio at 6:30pm, then the puck drops from 'The X' at 7:00pm.