OTTAWA — After all that shuffling, coach Bruce Boudreau has come up aces.
The Wild have a bona fide scoring line that is bringing out the best in a surging Zach Parise, resurgent Charlie Coyle and emerging Luke Kunin.
Since being united Dec. 27 in Chicago, the trio has combined for six goals, 19 points and 40 shots in four games. Against the Senators on Saturday afternoon, the line produced Parise’s third-period game-winner while accounting for seven points.
Parise — who leads the team with 19 goals — had two assists along with Coyle and Kunin.
“To me it’s like a little puzzle that all of a sudden fits,” Boudreau said after Minnesota’s 4-3 win. “Kunin’s legs are getting stronger, and I think he’s played a whale of a game. Charlie feels so much more comfortable at center, and Zach is having the kind of year that Zach’s usually accustomed to.
“I think that line is going very well and if we can get the consistency out of the other lines, I think things will start looking up.”
Boudreau did not like what he saw from the Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Mikael Granlund combination, which turned the puck over frequently while skating in cement. So he moved Zucker down and elevated Jordan Greenway to the No. 2 unit.
Shortly after the switch, Granlund found Greenway all alone in front of Ottawa goalie Anders Nilsson, and the hulking winger banged in his seventh goal of the season.
“If I’m going to drive the net or Granny’s going to drive, I’m going to pick me,” Greenway quipped. “So I just went to the net and he found me.”
The Wild celebrated their win not by mobbing goaltender Devan Dubnyk in the crease but by rescuing center Eric Fehr from his pit of misery.
In the dying seconds of a one-goal game, Fehr blocked a slap shot by Bobby Ryan that pounded his right ankle. Fehr doubled over in pain as the final horn sounded.
Earlier in the third period, Fehr blocked another rocket from Christian Joros. This one clubbed him in the right knee. Fehr finished his shift hobbling around before Dubnyk mercifully froze the puck. Fehr struggled just to get to the bench.
Which blow hurt the worst?
“I’ll find out tomorrow,” Fehr joked.
They were two of the 18 shots the Wild blocked in a game in which Dubnyk made 24 saves. And the Wild took notice of their teammates’ bravery.
“Blocking shots, that’s how you win,” said Boudreau. “Those are the sacrifices and the price you pay so those are good things.”
Fehr shrugged it all off.
“Everybody on our team gets in front of shots,” he said. “I just get put in a position whether it’s killing penalties or 6 on 5 where it’s a little bit more often, but guys have been blocking shots all year. When it’s your turn to step up you’ve got to get it.”
HE SAID IT
Greenway on the importance of maintaining momentum from Thursday’s big win over powerhouse Toronto: “Our focus was just to build off that game, kind of get a little snowball going here, and keep things going in the right direction. I think we’ve found some confidence. I think we’re doing the right things and it’s showing on the scoreboard for us.”