MINNEAPOLIS - All things considered, the first week of the NHL season couldn’t have started much better for the Minnesota Wild.
The Wild come home for a six-game stretch at Xcel Energy Center with a 3-1 record and taking six out of a possible eight points in four road games on the West Coast. They had a different formula in Wednesday night’s 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks.
The Wild got out to a 2-0 lead, saw it disappear in the second period and got the game-winning goal early in the third period. In their first two games, the Wild trailed 3-1 in the third period and rallied before getting wins in overtime.
Wild coach Dean Evason said after the win the team never panicked when the Ducks got a pair of goals to tie the game in the second period.
"They just stayed the course and fortunately we got one to go ahead. It’s nice to get rewarded and feel good and hopefully carry that momentum forward," Evason said.
Not only did the Wild get its third win in four games to start the season, they got a pair of goals on special teams. Ryan Hartman gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead on a short-handed breakaway goal off a rebound after his initial shot was saved.
It was his first goal of the season.
"I was just trying to shoot it low, far pad. I think I surprised him a little bit, how early I did shoot it. He was pretty far out of the net. It worked out well, it came right back to me and he was stuck outside of his crease. It was good to get the first one out of the way," Hartman said.
The Wild made it 2-0 in the second period on the power play, snapping an 0-for-18 skid to start the season. Joel Eriksson Ek won a faceoff, and the puck went right to Nick Bonino. He immediately fired a wrist shot for the goal.
Evason has been asked daily about the Wild’s power play struggles since the start of the season. All he really cares about are wins.
"It’s been real good, it just hasn’t scored. Some guys don’t have points, but we have points and that’s the key. We have points as a team and everybody is buying into that," Evason said. "The most important thing is the end result for the team."
The Ducks came back with a pair of goals less than four minutes apart, but the Wild got the eventual game-winner less than two minutes into the third. Kirill Kaprizov found Jordan Greenway, who then found Eriksson Ek for his second goal of the season.
Eriksson Ek was more satisfied that the Wild is coming home with a 3-1 record.
"Makes you feel good about your game. We’ve been working real hard in practice. That’s what shows out there today," Eriksson Ek said.
In his first start in more than a year in net, Kaapo Kahkonen made 22 saves on 24 shots.
The Wild is now home for six straight games against the San Jose Sharks, L.A. Kings and Colorado Avalanche. Unfortunately for the Wild, the only fans allowed among the team of 18,000-plus at Xcel Energy Center will be select family of the team.
"Can’t wait to be in our building. We love our building. The city will give us energy even if they’re not sitting in the seats," Evason said.