ST. PAUL, Minn. -- And, exhale.
Frantic Wild fans freaking out about the Wild's winless start can breathe a little easier after the Wild prevailed for the first time this season Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets.
In a solid all-around effort that only surrendered 15 shots, the Wild became the final Western Conference team to earn a 'W' in the standings. It came in its fourth game by a 2-1 score at Xcel Energy Center.
Jonas Brodin and Matt Cooke scored the goals and Josh Harding made 14 saves in his first start for the injured Niklas Backstrom. The Wild peppered Ondrej Pavelec with 30 shots.
Looking for an offensive spark and a greater sense of urgency as anxiety inside and outside the organization already began to swell, coach Mike Yeo scrambled his four lines against the Jets.
The big move was swapping Nino Niederreiter and Jason Pominville between Lines 1 and 2, yet coincidentally, the third line is the one that broke out offensively.
Brodin scored one goal off a rush with Kyle Brodziak and Cooke, then Cooke followed suit by scoring the eventual winning goal in the second period by pouncing on Torrey Mitchell's rebound.
Yeo changed up the top two lines in large part to get Dany Heatley going. Heatley has no points in four games.
"He'll be first to say there's another level," Yeo said before the game.
While the second line did generate more with Pominville skating with Mikael Granlund and Dany Heatley, the Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Niederreiter set the tone much of the night.
The trio hounded the puck, exuded constant effort and generated oodles of chances. The three spent much of the night in the offensive zone.
Their best shift arguably came in the first period when Niederreiter, the fifth overall pick in 2010 by the Islanders, sent Koivu a beautiful pass in the slot. Koivu missed the net, but later in the shift, Niederreiter fired a puck on net that Pavelec had to work hard to turn away.
The Wild jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 7:39 of the first on Brodin's second goal of the season. He led a rush up ice, executed a give-and-go with Brodziak, drove the crease and had Cooke's rebound carom in off of him.
The Wild got into penalty trouble in the operning period. Brodin took a holding minor. Four seconds later, Brodziak took an interference penalty to give Winnipeg a 5-on-3. Remember, two nights earlier in Nashville, Brodziak took a penalty 10 seconds after Parise gave the Wild a 1-0 lead. That became a 5-on-3 on Koivu's penalty soon after, and the game unraveled quickly.
This time, Tobias Enstrom's shot was deflected by Bryan Little for the tying goal.
But the Wild absolutely dominated the second period, the norm this season. At one point, the shots were 12-1.
The Wild finally snapped the 1-1 tie when Clayton Stoner dumped a puck to Mitchell, who hustled around the net and in front for a shot. With the puck underneath Pavelec, Cooke flew in stick-first and shuffled the puck for his second goal of the year.
It became Cooke's 23rd career game-winning goal.
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