Road Reaction: Jets 2, Wild 1 (OT)
The deck was stacked against the Minnesota Wild.
Minnesota had to travel to Winnipeg for the second game of a back-to-back situation. The Wild were without forwards Jason Zucker and Ryan Carter, who were put on injured reserve earlier in the day. Minnesota played most of Monday's win against Vancouver with just 10 forwards, perhaps leading to extra fatigue for a second-consecutive game.
The Wild survived an early barrage and still came away with a much-needed point at Winnipeg. However, Dustin Byfuglien scored in overtime to give the Jets a 2-1 win and the extra point.
Minnesota had its six-game winning streak snapped, but the Wild has earned at least a point in 10 of their last 11 games after Jason Pominville scored his 11th goal of the season to tie the game in the third period. The point earned by pushing the game into overtime draws Minnesota within two points of a playoff spot.
1. Byfuglien, F, Jets: Big Buff was big again for Winnipeg. Usually a defenseman, Byfuglien was playing another game at forward for the Jets and he made his presence felt with his physical style. Not only did Byfuglien score the game-winner -- his 14th goal of the season -- but he was all over the ice.
Playing forward, Byfuglien still played 23 minutes, 58 seconds. He had three shots, four penalty minutes, two hits and two takeaways, setting the tone for Winnipeg.
2. Devan Dubnyk, G, Wild: There was much discussion whether Dubnyk would be back in net for the second game of the back-to-back situation. Head coach Mike Yeo started Dubnyk again -- his 11th-straight start -- after much deliberation. Dubnyk might have stolen a point for the Wild.
Dubnyk was under siege early and Winnipeg could have put the game away early if Dubnyk wasn't strong. The Jets led 15-3 in shots after the first 14 minutes of the game. But Dubnyk kept them out of the goal in the first period and Minnesota started to find its legs in the second.
Dubnyk, who is now 8-1-1 with the Wild, stopped 32 of the 34 shots he faced.
3. Michael Hutchinson, G, Jets: Hutchinson wasn't faced with the workload of his counterpart but gave the Jets the chance to take two points while Dubnyk was limiting Winnipeg's offense. Hutchinson wasn't challenged much in the third period, seeing just eight shots. He kept Minnesota off the board despite a 13-9 advantage in shots on goal in the second.
The lone goal to beat Hutchinson was on a quick shot by Pominville after Zach Parise helped create a turnover right in front of the Jets goal. Hutchinson stopped 29 of the 30 shots he faced.
Seen: Without Zucker and Carter Minnesota's lines were in full flux. Yeo hadn't altered the lines much during the team's six-game winning streak. He was forced to change because of injuries and Tuesday was an experiment of sorts.
The top line of Parise, Mikael Granlund and Thomas Vanek remained together at the game's start. Nino Niederreiter took Zucker's spot alongside Mikko Koivu and Pominville. Justin Fontaine and Brett Sutter joined the lineup on the fourth line.
But Yeo was making changes often. He went back to his "All Gophers" line of Vanek, Erik Haula and Jordan Schroeder, all former University of Minnesota players. Koivu joined Parise on the top line and Charlie Coyle moved from center to win on the line. Pominville also saw time with Koivu and Parise. Granlund spent time with Niederreiter and Pominville.
Two big pieces of the settled lines were gone and Yeo is trying to find the right mix.
Said: "Fatigue; obviously three (games) in four and back-to-back isn't easy with travel, but I thought for the most part we weathered the storm pretty good. We know they're a team that is one of the best at home and they came out flying right away. Obviously weren't too happy with our first period, but as the game went on we were better and better and gave ourselves a chance to win." -- Pominville
Next: A quick road trip to Winnipeg is followed by a return home for two games. After making their run against many of the Western Conference foes ahead of them in the standings, the Wild host a pair of Eastern Conference teams.
Minnesota will play the Florida Panthers on Thursday and the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. Florida is in the same position -- ninth in the East -- as the Wild. Only two teams in the NHL have fewer points than Carolina.
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