Matt Boldy scores, John Hynes wins in Wild coaching debut: Key takeaways in win over Blues

One day after Dean Evason was relieved of his coaching duties after parts of five seasons at the helm, John Hynes won his Wild coaching debut during a 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. It was Minnesota’s first victory since Nov. 7 and only its fourth win in the past 17 games to snap an 0-5-2 skid. Joel Eriksson Ek and Freddy Gaudreau scored first-period goals, Matt Boldy scored his first since Oct. 14 and Filip Gustavsson made 22 saves for his third victory in 12 starts.

  • The Wild’s seven-game winless streak was their longest since an eight-game one in 2015-16.
  • Leading scorer Mats Zuccarello became the first Wild player in history to have a season-opening home point streak of 10 games. He has 22 points in 20 games.
  • The Wild are 3-4 in their first games of their seven all-time coaches with Hynes joining Mike Yeo and John Torchetti as coaches to win their first games.
  • The Wild will practice Wednesday, then head to Nashville, where Hynes lives and coached until he was fired in June for former Wild player, assistant GM and assistant coach Andrew Brunette.

Penalty kill flawless

Not to take anything away from the Wild, but if anything could be a tonic for the NHL’s league-worst penalty kill, it would be the Blues’ atrociously slow, predictable 6 for 65 power play. Gustavsson made six saves on four power plays, including two on a double minor in the third period. The Wild have lacked big saves from their goalies this season on the penalty kill and their first one led to a momentum-generating team-leading 11th goal by Joel Eriksson Ek soon after in the first period. They got in shooting lanes, passing lanes and sacrificed their bodies.

Friendly Freddy scores

It has been a rough go this season for Gaudreau, who scored 19 goals last season and was awarded with a five-year contract in April to forgo free agency. He was crushed by former teammate Ryan Reaves in Toronto on Oct. 14 and played that game and five games after with broken ribs. He missed the next 10 games and played the last three for nine games this season without even a point. On Tuesday, one game after his biggest believer in Evason was fired, Gaudreau played his best game of the season with a beautiful shot leading to his first goal and three shots total. He’s not the only one to snap the goose egg. Jared Spurgeon recorded his first point in seven games when he assisted on Eriksson Ek’s game-opening goal

Boldy engaged, looked care-free

Matt Boldy only had one goal on the season and had gone 10 games in a row without a goal, but he looked exactly how Bill Guerin hoped earlier in the day when he said Boldy’s struggles have been weighing on him “like a ton of bricks.” In the third period, he was finally awarded with his second goal of the season and his first in 11 games since returning from an upper-body injury. He had four shots and four others attempted. He did take a double minor for 10 penalty minutes in the past three games in the third period, but the Wild’s PK had his back. If there ever was a guy who needed something good to happen, it was Boldy. If he keeps playing like Tuesday, more goals will come in no time.

Three stars

1. Joel Eriksson Ek, Wild: The Wild’s leading goal scorer potted the game’s first goal, one of five shots and four others attempted on the night. He also had three hits and logged 3:48 on the team’s 4 for 4 penalty kill.
2. Jordan Binnington, Blues: Did everything to give St. Louis a chance for a victory. He made 34 saves, including going 17 for 17 in the second period.
3. Filip Gustavsson, Wild: Wasn’t tested much, but when they needed him, he was great, especially on two third-period robberies on Robert Thomas and one on Torey Krug.

Quotes of the night

“It was a long time coming.” — Matt Boldy on scoring for the first time since Oct. 14.

“It’s hard those losing streaks, it’s hard on everybody mentally. Everybody came to play tonight.” — Freddy Gaudreau

“It’s really a pleasure to coach them.” — John Hynes

(Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn / NHLI via Getty Images)

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