They can’t all be works of art — and Monday’s game was certainly not that. The Wild wasn’t at its best in a sometimes-choppy game against the Calgary Flames. But it doesn’t matter. The Wild keeps winning and, quite frankly, couldn’t have scripted the way it has come out of the Olympic break better. Three games, three wins, the latest being a grind-it-out 3-2 victory that was the Wild’s fifth in a row to extend the NHL’s longest active winning streak. “To stack wins right now is important and build as much gap as we can because it’s not going to get any easier,” veteran Matt Cooke said. The Wild, which had to win its season finale last year to make the playoffs, is 14-4-2 in 2014, 9-2-2 in its past 13 games and has a nine-point cushion in the playoff race with 20 games left. “The cushion to me is nothing,” coach Mike Yeo said. “It’s not about where the people are behind you. To me, it’s much more a race of what you need to get to. And we have to make sure we keep pushing to get to the number of points we need to get [in].” Kyle Brodziak and Mike Cammalleri exchanged second-period goals before Jared Spurgeon and Zach Parise scored in the third. Mikael Granlund assisted on both of those, and Darcy Kuemper, 11-2-2 since Jan. 7 and making his 15th straight start, made 21 saves for his fifth consecutive win (six goals allowed). Kuemper, named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week on Monday, played in front of his parents, Saskatoon residents Sharon and Brent, for the first time in Minnesota. “They actually came to the game in Calgary that we lost in overtime [on Feb. 1], so it was good that we could beat them this time,” Kuemper said. Captain Mikko Koivu returned to the lineup for the first time in eight weeks. He was minus-1 and had no shots, but he won 10 of 17 faceoffs and showed glimpses of strong play, especially on a second-period power play. “I was more nervous than I even told you guys,” Koivu said. “I missed a long time. I wasn’t sure how it was going to react in a game. … More games and more practice, I should get better.” The Wild jumped out to a 1-0 lead after a goof-up by goalie Reto Berra. Berra stopped Marco Scandella’s dump-in behind the net, and then froze. Cooke swarmed and knocked the puck loose. Brodziak scooped it up, evaded defenseman Kris Russell and popped it high into a wide-open net.
Wild's win isn't pretty, but effective
Minneapolis Star Tribune | Mar 4