The line accounted for eight even-strength goals through the first 15, and lived in the opposing team's offensive zone.
But then the production began to ease up, Zach Parise sustained a knee injury, and Koivu's line began to play against every team's top defensive pairing and shutdown forwards. The line skated more minutes, and was thrust into a more featured role.
Devan Dubnyk returned to Minnesota Wild practice on Thursday after missing the past game with a mild groin strain.
On Saturday, with 9:05 remaining in the second period in a game against the Colorado Avalanche, Dubnyk exited with an apparent lower-body injury. He was relieved by Darcy Kuemper, and the Wild went on to win, 3-0.
Thursday was Dubnyk's first on-ice activity since sustaining the injury, but he will not be accompanying the Wild on its upcoming road trip.
With three days separating the Minnesota Wild and its next game, the Wild took the Xcel Energy ice for practice, primarily for situational work, on Tuesday.
Both the power play and three-on-three were focal points of the session, and Head Coach Mike Yeo said the time between games affords Minnesota the opportunity to review those kinds of things.
"We had an opportunity today, and we'll work it again on Thursday to try some different looks, and some different personnel (on the power play)," Yeo said. "Get an idea of what direction we want to go in going forward."
Four Minnesota Wild prospects were named to 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship camps on Monday.
Louis Belpedio (United States), Joel Eriksson Ek (Sweden), Kaapo Kahkonen (Finland), and Ales Stezka (Czech Republic) all received invitations for the preliminary evaluation portion of the tournament. This 2016 World Junior Championship will be held in Helsinki, Finland. The tournament begins on December 26, and runs through January 5.
Belpedio, a defenseman, was drafted by the Wild in the third round in 2014. He currently plays at the University of Miami (Ohio), and has two goals and eight assists in 16 games this season.
Kuemper relieved Dubnyk in a 3-0 Wild win against Colorado on Saturday. He played the final 29:05, stopping nine shots, in a game he said played out in a way that was helpful when coming off the bench.
"Especially a night like last game where you're coming off the bench," Kuemper said. "You've been sitting around, so your legs aren't feeling as great as they can be.
Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk has been diagnosed with a mild groin strain that will keep him out of at least the Wild's game on Monday against the Colorado Avalanche.
"We'll definitely keep him out for tomorrow, and I guess we'll see when we get back how he's feeling," Head Coach Mike Yeo said.
Dubynk left the Wild's game on Saturday against the Avalanche with 9:05 left in the second period during a television timeout. Darcy Kuemper came in and made nine saves over the next period-plus to preserve the shutout and earn the win in the Wild's 3-0 victory.
It's been 58 days since the last Minnesota Wild-Colorado Avalanche game, but enough familiarity has been bred between the Central Division rivals to make up for the time off.
With how frequently these teams have met over the past two seasons, the Wild knows the kind of game that Colorado will bring to Xcel Energy Center on Saturday.
"We've played these guys enough to know that the pace of how you execute, and the pace of play and how you counter from offense-to-defense, and vice versa, is going to be a huge part of the game," Head Coach Mike Yeo said.
A legendary coach and GM, a goal-scorer, a playmaking defenseman, and a tough guy represented the many faces of the Minnesota North Stars at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday night.
Lou Nanne, Steve Payne, Brad Maxwell and Jack Carlson each donned a cream-colored pullover sweater, marked by their North Stars logo and a small Stadium Series patch, as they interacted with fans at section 113 on the main concourse.
The quartet, who will all play a role in the Stadium Series Alumni game on Feb. 20, were on hand to sign autographs for fans prior to making the “Let’s Play Hockey” announcement in the arena to help start the Wild’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Nanne, who embodies the State of Hockey and growing the game as well as anyone ever could, knows the alumni game, consisting of players from the North Stars and the Wild, is more about celebration than strategy as he prepares to help coach the home team.
“It’s not really a lot of work to prepare lines because we’re just going to get the guys to all play and play together, and just give the fans the opportunity to see all these players,” Nanne said.
GET YOUR STADIUM SERIES TICKETS Fans shared memories of specific plays and games with Maxwell, Carlson, and Payne as they reminisced about growing up North Stars fans, now sporting Wild jerseys and gear with their kids. Nanne summed up the sentiment most conversations took, especially as it related to facing the Chicago Blackhawks.
“It’s just a thrill to be able to have these two teams play one another,” Nanne said. “There’s such a history and there’s been such a rivalry for so long that it’s so exciting, and to have many of the people that played a big part in this rivalry over the years to be here playing against one another - I think it’s going to be a real thrill for the players and coaches, but especially for the fans.”
It remains to be seen if the alumni on the ice will embrace their previous NHL roles – Carlson as a rugged enforcer, Maxwell as an offensive defenseman, and Payne as a source of scoring – but Nanne still knows where he can look to the latter for a spark when he needs it.
“For years they used to talk about Reggie Jackson being Mr. October in baseball,” Nanne explained. “Well, [Payne] was Mr. April and May for us in hockey. He just had a knack for scoring big goals throughout the course of his career, and he was a big, big part of any success the Minnesota North Stars had.”
Regardless of the score when these alumni teams meet on the outdoor rink at TCF Bank Stadium in February, the North Stars and Wild of days past will once again find success on the ice and in their fans hearts when they suit up one more time.
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Two straight wins for the Minnesota Wild, and while the scores were very similar, they came against two opponents doing decidedly different things.
For Head Coach Mike Yeo, that's a very good sign.
"This is what we talked about the other day, "Yeo said after practice on Friday. "We want to win games scoring five, six goals a night, but we have to be able to win games 1-0, 2-1, whatever the case is.
When Tyler Graovac spoke for the first time on Thursday since undergoing successful abdominal surgery on Nov. 3, there was a decided look of relief on his face.
Graovac played in the Wild's season-opener on Oct. 8 against the Colorado Avalanche, and then was held out with a groin injury. Eventually, when his status didn't progress as planned, he had the surgery.
"I feel so much better," Graovac said. "I have a couple of battle wounds, but my first game back, professional players will say, 'You can't get too high, you can't get too low,' but I'm going to really enjoy it. That's for sure."