Coming off a bad year in Minnesota, Fernandez looked sharp
making 26 saves in the Wild's 5-1 season-opening win over the
Boston Bruins on Friday night.
Andrew Brunette had a goal and an assist in a game in which 10
Minnesota players registered a point. It was the first
season-opening win for the third-year Wild, who sent the sellout
crowd of 18,568 into a frenzy with three goals in the first period.
The Wild offense looked sluggish at times. But Fernandez, who
helped lead Minnesota to the NHL's only unbeaten preseason record,
"He was very solid, just carried over what he did in
preseason,'' Brunette said. "It's a new Manny this year.''
Brunette's goal gave the Wild a 3-0 lead at 16:40 of the first
period. Brunette, who led Minnesota last season with 48 assists,
also set up Sergei Zholtok's goal, which made it 4-1 at 11:52 of
the second. Brunette found Zholtok alone in the slot and Zholtok's
shot bounced into the net off the post past John Grahame.
Zholtok's goal stole the momentum from Boston. Earlier in the
period, the Bruins scored on a shot by Mike Knuble.
"They were up 3-0, but there were two periods left,'' Martin
Lapointe said. "There was a lot of positive in the locker room
because we knew we could come back.''
Brunette said Minnesota needed to steady itself.
"We looked like we were in trouble and reeling a little bit,
and obviously we knew they'd come out hard. We were still a little
jittery,'' he said.
But Zholtok's goal gave Minnesota more breathing room and
Fernandez did the rest.
"All the guys, they wanted this game so much,'' coach Jacques
Grahame, who is battling Steve Shields for the No. 1 goaltender
spot in Byron Dafoe's departure, got off to a shaky start. He
allowed Minnesota's first three goals in a 5:05 span midway through
the first period.
"After you make a lot of mistakes and give them some scoring
opportunities, it's hard to make saves on them,'' Bruins coach
Robbie Ftorek said.
Jim Dowd beat Grahame for Minnesota's fifth goal, an unassisted
shorthanded slap shot from the top of the right circle in the third
period. Grahame's best save came in the second period when he
deflected Marian Gaborik's shot off a breakaway. Grahame finished
with 15 saves.
"We just didn't get our game going the way we would have
liked,'' Ftorek said.
Fernandez, who struggled last season after posting good numbers
in the Wild's inaugural year, withstood a barrage of shots in the
second period. He also made a good glove save on Hal Gill's shot
from the left circle with 25 seconds left in the second.
"When you get that cushion, now the pressure's on them and it's
easier to play a defensive game,'' Fernandez said.
Park gave the Wild a 1-0 lead at 11:35 of the first period. On
the power play, Park backhanded a pass from Filip Kuba in front of
the Boston net to beat Grahame.
At 14:56, Walz poked the puck past Grahame's glove on a crisp
pass from newcomer Bill Muckalt to put the Wild ahead 2-0. Brunette
scored just 1:44 later.
Boston got on the board at 3:50 of the second period when Knuble
won a battle for the puck in front of the net and slapped it past
Fernandez to make it 3-1.
The Wild are 4-0 against Boston. Fernandez is 3-0. ...
Minnesota first-round draft pick Pierre-Marc Bouchard notched his
first NHL assist on Park's goal. ... The Bruins open the season
with their second-longest road trip of the year (six games). ...
The Bruins are 10-2-4 in their last 16 season-opening games. ...
Knuble's goal was the Bruins' 17,000th in team history.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Xcel Energy Center Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
Referees: Terry Gregson, Jay Sharrers Linesmen: Brian Mach, Lyle Seitz
Attendance: 18,568 (102.8% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Richard Park (1)
(Power Play) Assists: Filip Kuba, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Wes Walz (1)
Assists: Bill Muckalt, Antti Laaksonen
Andrew Brunette (1)
Assists: Sergei Zholtok, Filip Kuba
Mike Knuble (1)
Assists: Sean Brown, Rob Zamuner
Sergei Zholtok (1)
Assists: Andrew Brunette, Cliff Ronning