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Minnesota Wild keep winning after coaching change, douse Flames 5-2

CALGARY — The Minnesota Wild extended their win streak since a coaching change to four straight with a 5-2 victory Tuesday over the host Calgary Flames.
Minnesota Wild forward Joel Eriksson Ek, left, and Calgary Flames defenceman MacKenzie Weegar, centre, follow a loose puck as goalie Daniel Vladar looks on during first period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY — The Minnesota Wild extended their win streak since a coaching change to four straight with a 5-2 victory Tuesday over the host Calgary Flames.

Matt Boldy scored twice and had an assist for Minnesota (9-10-4) who have outscored their opposition 18-5, including 9-1 in first periods, since Jon Hynes took over Nov. 27 for the fired Dean Evason.

"A lot of credit to Jon. He's come in and just established what he wants us to do and play like and it's a lot faster," Wild forward Marcus Foligno said.

"Our breaking out is a lot better than it has been. We're big and strong and we needed to get faster. Guys are snapping the puck around tape to tape. It's a lot easier when you play like that and … it's a kick in the butt when you get a coach fired."

Minnesota's Kirill Kaprizov had a goal and an assist with Foligno and Joel Eriksson Ek each contributing a goal. Wild goalie Filip Gustavsson made 28 saves to improve to a career 4-0-1 versus Calgary.

"I give the players a lot of credit," Hynes said. "They had adversity early in the year and it looks right now like they just want to compete every night and get themselves, get ourselves, back in the mix to be able to contend for a playoff spot."

Connor Zary and Mikael Backlund scored for Calgary (10-12-3), whose sluggish starts in the first and second period were costly.

The Flames revealed earlier Tuesday that goaltender Jacob Markstrom was week-to-week with a fractured finger on his right blocker hand. He was injured in Monday's practice.

Calgary's Dan Vladar stopped 13 of 16 shots in just over a period of work. He was replaced by American Hockey League call-up Dustin Wolf, who turned away 11 of 13.

Minnesota led 2-0 just 45 seconds into the second period and 3-0 at 90 seconds. Wolf then drew in for Vladar in front of an announced 16,661 at the Saddledome.

"A really slow start and we knew going into the game they were a really good first-period team," Backlund said. 

"Vladdy and Wolf did their best today. It's not on them. Vladdy played really well for us in the first. If it wasn't for him, it would have been more goals against."

Boldy assisted on Foligno's goal at 1:26 of the first period before scoring a pair in the second. The visitors outshot the Flames 13-5 and 25-15 at period breaks, scored on their first shot of the game, and led 4-1 heading into the third.

"It's just a credit to our possession," Foligno said. "We're really trying to keep the puck in and hold on to it going into the zone and really just our speed from our centremen or defence joining, it's just been a lot more of a five-man unit."

His shot that came out of the net quickly in the first period wasn't signalled a goal until half a minute later when both teams were in Minnesota's end.

Mats Zuccarello's assist on Kaprizov's goal was the Norwegian's career 600th point. The 36-year-old extended his point streak to 10 games with three goals and 11 assists in that span.

The 22-year-old Wolf, who was the AHL's most valuable player and top goaltender last season with the Calgary Wranglers, received a loud ovation from the Saddledome when came in for just his third NHL appearance.

Wolf repelled four shots during a Minnesota power play and stoned Brandon Duhaime on a short-handed breakaway in the second period.

"He's been a talking point for a couple years now. People want to see him play," Flames head coach Ryan Huska said. "Unfortunately it was in a game where we didn't anticipate him playing, but that's what it comes down to.

"Vladdy kept us in the game in the first period and they score two quick goals in the second period, so the (goalie change) was just something to change things around a little bit."


The Flames host the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. The Wild stay on the road for back-to-back games starting Thursday against the Vancouver Canucks followed by Friday's contest against the Edmonton Oilers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2023.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press