Kelly Erickson's Five Takeaways vs. Colorado

Friday, 11.29.2013 / 9:26 PM
Kelly Erickson  - Special To Wild.com

Following Wild games, Digital Media Coordinator Kelly Erickson will occasionally give the Five Takeaways that she'll remember from the contest. Tonight, she looks back at a 3-1 loss against the Colorado Avalanche:

Heading into tonight’s contest the Wild and Avalanche were neck-and-neck in the Central Division standings. Unfortunately for the Wild, it was Colorado who came away with the win, as Minnesota was unable to capitalize on all but one chance. But the Wild will have an immediate opportunity for revenge as the two teams square off tomorrow night in Denver.

Zach Parise is not the type of player who is going to let a bruised foot keep him off the ice. Only days after blocking an Alexander Steen slap shot with his foot, suffering a contusion — which was supposed to sideline him for two to three weeks — Parise was back on the left wing for tonight’s 5 p.m. puck drop after practicing throughout the week.

Parise jumped right into his usual role, working hard down low and filling in on the top power play unit. The workhorse registered 23:03 of ice time, which was third on the Wild behind Ryan Suter (duh) with 28:56 TOI and Mikko Koivu with 25:29. He also blocked a shot in the game, but the forward used his stick this time around, rather than his foot.

Parise wasn’t the only State of Hockey fan-favorite taking the ice tonight. Former Golden Gopher standout Erik Haula made his NHL debut, stepping in as the second-line center for the injured Mikael Granlund. The 22-year-old admitted to some pregame butterflies but his potential quickly shone through. Not only was his speed and creativity apparent, he picked up his first NHL point with a second assist on Dany Heatley’s second-period goal (more on that later).

With his effort, Haula earned Third Star of the Game honors and even Head Coach Mike Yeo noted he looked good right from the start. Though, like anyone in his first NHL game, he wasn’t perfect. The bench boss said there are some things they have to work on with him yet, but he’s a smart kid he’ll pick it up.

It took some time to get going, but Dany Heatley is starting to find his touch around the crease. The forward netted the Wild’s lone goal of the night, picking up his sixth of the season (6-3=9) and second in consecutive games.

Tonight, like recently, it was all about being in the right place at the right time for Heater. Haula chipped the puck behind the net to Nino Niederreiter in the right corner on a backhand pass from one knee. El Nino spotted Heatley in the slot and centered the puck. All Heatley had to do was fire it home. The goal marked his fourth tally in the last six games.

Haula wasn’t the only call up since the Wild last played. Jason Zucker returned to the lineup after he was reassigned to Iowa before Wednesday’s game. After Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to Phoenix, Yeo more than hinted that Zucker would return, stating in his postgame press conference that the forward would be back soon. After scoring two goals Wednesday night for the Iowa Wild in Chicago, the 21-year-old was pulled from the bus and made a 4:30 a.m. flight Thanksgiving morning to Saint Paul to rejoin the Wild’s practice.

Like Haula, Zucker also showed off his well-known speed and picked up three hits in the chippy contest. With both speedsters in the lineup, Justin Fontaine was a healthy scratch for the first time in his short NHL career.

With MOvember sadly coming to a close tomorrow, and tonight marking the Wild’s last home game of the month, Minnesota and its fans celebrated their cookie dusters. After the game, the Wild invited anyone with a ‘stache down to the ice in an attempt to unofficially break the Wild’s world record for the largest gathering of people with moustaches — which it set two years ago.

Well the lip ticklers certainly were impressive this year and some will be sorely missed. Although this girl hopes a few stay around for the whole season because they are just too good.

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