Wild skate through penalties to win
LAS VEGAS — Turning points can be fleeting, especially against a dynamic team like the Vegas Golden Knights.
But the Wild leveraged a killer penalty kill early in the third period to set the stage for a two-goal burst Monday, Jan. 21, that propelled them to a 4-2 victory at T-Mobile Arena.
Defenseman Ryan Suter was whistled off for slashing 15 seconds into the period. Just 48 seconds later, forward Marcus Foligno sailed a clearing attempt into the seats for a delay-of-game penalty that left the Wild down two men for 1 minute, 12 seconds.
The Knights buzzed goalie Devan Dubnyk, who stopped three tight shots. Suter emerged from the box and had a big blocked shot along with Zach Parise, and the Knights were left frustrated after having several good looks to break open a 2-2 game.
“Once we killed the 5-on-3, it really energized the bench and they thought they weren’t going to do anything to lose that game,” said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau.
Charlie Coyle, who scored the game-winner, said the momentum cuts both ways, with the Wild feeling like they dodged a bullet while the Knights blew their chance.
“That was huge,” Coyle said “It can make or break, a bounce here, a bounce there, but our guys did a really good job. And Dubs did a good job. Being on the other side of things, 5-on-3, if you don’t score, especially to break it open, it can be frustrating.”
The Wild finished 4 for 5 on the penalty kill.
Center Eric Fehr is moving closer to returning to the lineup after missing two weeks due to being rammed head-first into the boards by Canadiens winger Kenny Agostino. Boudreau said he would be a game-time decision Wednesday when the Wild play at Colorado.
Fehr was diagnosed with a body injury, so the ailment went beyond the bruise and cut he sustained on his head. The Wild have been without a key penalty killer and faceoff man for eight games, although he resumed skating last week.
“He skated well yesterday. We skated him hard this morning. He’ll skate hard in practice (Tuesday),” Boudreau said before Monday’s game.
Fehr has five goals among 10 points, 33 blocked shots and averages 51 percent in the faceoff circle playing an average of 11:22 per game.
“He’s got five goals, but he’s a valuable faceoff guy,” Boudreau said. “At the end of the games, you need guys to block shots out there when you’ve got the lead. He’s done all of that for us and he’s a right-handed centerman, which is an advantage for us.”
Koivu nets 200th
Wild captain Mikko Koivu scored his 200th career goal Monday, bagging the empty-netter. He is the second player in franchise history to reach the milestone, and is only 19 goals behind all-time leader Marian Gaborik.
Koivu, who had not scored in nine games dating to Jan. 3, cracked wise when asked whether he knew it was his 200th goal.
“I probably knew a week ago,” he said. “Can’t think about that tonight.”