Wild finally notch 1st win of year
ST. PAUL — The mantra that hard work pays off came true on Thursday night for the Minnesota Wild.
Matt Cooke’s second-period goal was the difference as the Wild beat the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 for Minnesota’s first win of the season.
Jonas Brodin also scored for the Wild (1-1-2) and Josh Harding had 14 saves in his first start of the season. The Wild had lost their first three games in a shootout, overtime and regulation, respectively.
For Winnipeg, Bryan Little’s power play goal was its only offense.
The Jets fell to 2-2-0 despite a notable contingent of their fans filling the enemy arena with chants of “Go Jets Go” at various times throughout the game.
Cooke, much maligned by fans because of his suspension-filled past when he signed with the Wild in the offseason, is quickly endearing himself to Minnesotans. He scored by tapping in the rebound of a Torrey Mitchell shot that Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec looked to have smothered under a leg pad.
In what is becoming an oft-repeated refrain for the Wild, they dominated long stretches of the first period but emerged without a lead to show for their efforts.
Brodin got Minnesota on the board first with his second goal of the year, deflecting a rebound off the shaft of his stick and past Pavelec. But in the final minute of the period, the Jets knotted the score on a five-on-three power play when Tobias Enstrom’s shot from the point was deflected at the top of the crease by Little.
Pavelec, who has played every minute in goal for the Jets through four games, had 28 saves.
Notes: Former Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell, who was named an international consultant by USA Hockey, attended Thursday’s game in a scouting role. Minnesota LW Zach Parise and D Ryan Suter, along with Winnipeg D Dustin Byfuglien, D Jacob Trouba and RW Blake Wheeler, are candidates to skate for Team USA at the coming Winter Olympics. ... After Minnesota G Niklas Backstrom was injured in the Wild’s 3-2 loss in Nashville on Tuesday, the team called up G Darcy Kuemper from their AHL affiliate in Iowa. Kuemper started three regular-season games for the Wild last season and appeared in relief in two playoff games. Backstrom is listed as day to day with a strained knee. ... RW Matt Halischuk made his Jets debut, skating on the team’s fourth line. Halischuk spent the previous three seasons with the Predators but was released by Nashville at the end of last season and signed a one-year contract with Winnipeg in July. ... The Jets face Dallas at home on Friday night. One night later, the Wild will play host to the Stars in St. Paul.