SAN JOSE, CALIF. – The save goalie Alex Stalock made Tuesday night on the Ducks’ Max Jones was clutch, a stop that kept the Wild’s deficit at two instead of it ballooning to three.
And winger Kevin Fiala’s second-period goal to finally chip away at that hole was important since it made the climb in the third period less steep.
But in coach Bruce Boudreau’s mind, the sequence that kick-started the Wild to rally for a 4-2 victory in Anaheim was a wrecking-ball shift by winger Jordan Greenway soon after the Ducks went up 2-0.
“From that point on,” Boudreau said, “the game turned.”
Greenway hit defenseman Cam Fowler in the corner, one of a career-high six registered hits the 22-year-old rang up in his 100th career game.
His intent wasn’t to ignite a comeback — he was frustrated and figured by running into someone he could improve — but that’s what ended up happening, a domino effect that reminded Greenway that he can make a difference by being a physical presence on the ice.
“I’ve got to find ways to use it more,” Greenway said. “Not just to change momentum when things are bad [but] even when things are going well, I’ve got to find a way to have that spark. I did it when we needed it most and going forward, I’ve got to find a way to do that from the drop of the puck. That goes back to consistency.”
Being reliable isn’t just a challenge for rookies; it’s also a pursuit that headlines Year 2 when players try to ward off the proverbial sophomore slump.
Although Greenway finished Tuesday’s game still seeking his first goal of the season, he’s sure he’ll heat up offensively if he continues to play the right way — which includes leveraging his 6-6, 225-pound frame more frequently. But that’s been an adjustment for Greenway.
Before reaching the NHL, Greenway never really had to be physical since he was bigger than his peers.
Now, though, his size can help him compete. And even though he recognizes he shies away from the physical side of the game occasionally because it’s new for him, Greenway understands it’s his ticket to having success.
Games such as Tuesday only reinforce that point.
“As I’ve seen in the past, when I do use my body and play very physical and initiate contact, I have way more of an impact for the team and for myself,” Greenway said. “We end up creating a lot more space and I think we have the puck a lot more, which is always positive. I’ve got to do it much more. That’s been something I have to work on.”
Stalock’s short start
After making 29 saves vs. the Ducks, Stalock was back in net Thursday against the Sharks — getting the nod for a second consecutive game over No. 1 Devan Dubnyk.
“He’s earned it,” Boudreau said. “It’s never an easy decision when you’re playing your backup a little bit more than normal. But he’s earned this spot.”
Thursday’s start didn’t go as well. Stalock gave up four goals on 12 shots in the first period and was replaced by Dubnyk to start the second in the 6-5 loss.
Finding consistency up front
The Wild started Thursday’s game rolling out the same forward lines it relied upon the previous two outings, a consistency that’s been tough to achieve so far this season amid injuries and uneven production.
And it’s made sense to keep these units intact since they’ve been contributing; three of the four lines scored in the first two games the Wild debuted this new look, and the top six was responsible for six of the seven goals.
“This is what you’re looking for,” Boudreau said.