The benefits of a quick start

BY foxsports • February 4, 2011

By Jamie MacDonald
FOXSportsNorth.com
February 4,2011

Coming off a game in which both teams' scoring touches remained stuck in the All-Star break, Minnesota's offense woke up as early as it could have Thursday night in Colorado.

The Wild scored on their first shift. They scored on their second shift, too. On their third shift, they earned a breakaway that may have been the best scoring opportunity of the bunch. Pierre-Marc Bouchard missed on that breakaway, but Minnesota had already jumped out to a 2-0 lead sixty-one seconds into the game.

Outshot, which is no headline, and outgunned at times the rest of the way, the Wild managed to hold on for a 4-3 win over Colorado, the divisional opponent that had been on their heels in the standings.

Prior to the game, Minnesota talked about taking advantage of the fact the Avalanche, thanks to the snowstorm that wiped out their game against St. Louis, still hadn't played a game since before the All-Star break. Considering that the visitors were eventually outshot, 41-25 (with only eight shots combined in the first and third periods), that early Wild push made for the difference.

Jose Theodore also stopped 38 shots to earn the win in his first start since Jan. 11, and, perhaps most important, the Wild bubbled back into the playoff race.

EARLY BLITZ

Nearly from the start of the game and straight through about the 7:00 mark, the Wild had a near monopoly on possession, scoring chances and forcing the play.

It isn't always easy to open a game executing so well, but that's what happened in a flash Thursday. On the first goal, Martin Havlat had possession along the left half-wall, and he was skating toward the point. Nick Schultz, rather than staying put, sidestepped away from his station on the point and toward the middle of the zone. When Havlat moved the puck low to Cal Clutterbuck, Schultz took off toward the net. Clutterbuck hit Schultz, who in turn found Kyle Brodziak, now left open as a defensemen turned his attention to the puck.

Brodziak flubbed the one-timer on the doorstep, though no one seemed to care in light of the 1-0 lead at :33, to complete a play where nearly every Wild player on the ice


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