ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jacques Lemaire took some time last spring to make sure his heart and mind were still fully invested in his coaching. He's still his same old demanding self.
Eric Belanger scored twice, and the Wild welcomed former goalie Manny Fernandez back to Minnesota with a three-goal second period that was enough to hang on for a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.
There were plenty of promising developments for Minnesota, but as usual -- not enough for Lemaire.
His team was sluggish in the first period, despite killing a four-minute power play, and outshot 37-26 in the game. The puck movement wasn't crisp enough, and it spent too much time in the defensive zone.
"It's great to win, but you have to know there's certain things you have to do in the future if you want to keep winning," he said, later adding: "I have to see more. I like the potential that we have. Now we've got to play to that."
Both of Savard's came in the final 8 1/2 minutes, pulling them within one with 1:38 remaining.
"Ran out of time," coach Claude Julien said.
Boston is coming off a 94-point season and a playoff appearance following consecutive last-place finishes, and with center Patrice Bergeron back there are many reasons to believe in more improvement.
Consider this a lesson learned.
"You got to play three periods of hockey in this league," said Savard, who also had a goal and an assist against Colorado.
Added defenseman Dennis Wideman: "You just can't play a first and a third and beat a team like that."
Fernandez let Belanger's below-the-circle poke slip between his pads on a power play to tie the game at 1 with less than 90 seconds left in the first period. After the first intermission, Bergeron sent a straight-on slap shot at Fernandez and watched that one sneak through his legs.
"I didn't look at him at all," said his uncle, Lemaire. "I was just happy when we scored. I had enough problems looking at my boys to get them to play together."
This was the first time Fernandez faced the Wild, who acquired him for their inaugural season in 2000 and experienced plenty of ups and downs until trading him to Boston in 2007. This was also Fernandez's first regular-season game in nearly a year, due to a knee injury and subsequent surgery that limited him to four games last October.
"The first and second goal was a good example of what's missing in my game, the sharpness," he said. "Those are two goals that shouldn't go. There's no reason for that, regardless if I get a good look or not."
Minnesota let stalwart Brian Rolston leave via free agency and also cut ties with Pavol Demitra and Mark Parrish, raising the question about where the scoring will come from. But all four players who made their Wild debuts -- Bergeron, rookie Colton Gillies, Miettinen and Owen Nolan -- had points in this one.
All-Star Marian Gaborik, whose future is uncertain as he plays the final year of his contract, had a quiet game. But Belanger didn't. Minnesota needs more productivity from its centermen behind captain Mikko Koivu, so this was an encouraging start.
Belanger started so fast in his first season with the Wild that Lemaire suggested he could reach 80 points, but he trailed off and managed only one goal in his final 30 games.
Part of that was because he played a lot on a checking line and had fewer opportunities to score, and Lemaire said he'd like to keep Belanger on the ice for offensive situations more this season.
"I'm definitely capable of doing that, and hopefully I can do that all year," Belanger said. "If they want me to check the other top line I can do that also, but this is a team game."
The Bruins scratched RW Chuck Kobasew, who broke his ankle in the opener. He's out indefinitely. ... Minnesota scratched D Marek Zidlicky (ankle), who with Bergeron was acquired to boost the offensive capability of the blue line. ... Kessel and rookie teammate Blake Wheeler both played for the University of Minnesota. ... Lemaire on Gillies' debut: "He's got to shorten up the shifts. Once there, I was looking at my watch. Is he ever going to get off?" Told that means the kid is eager to play, Lemaire responded: "But that's not how he's going to play."
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Xcel Energy Center Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
Referees: Marc Joannette, Dennis LaRue Linesmen: Mike Cvik, Mark Wheler
Attendance: 18,568 (102.8% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Phil Kessel (2)
Assists: Patrice Bergeron, Marco Sturm
Eric Belanger (1)
(Power Play) Assists: Colton Gillies, Kim Johnsson
Marc-Andre Bergeron (1)
(Power Play) Assists: Mikko Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Antti Miettinen (1)
Assists: Andrew Brunette, Mikko Koivu
Eric Belanger (2)
Assists: Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Owen Nolan
Marc Savard (2)
Assists: Michael Ryder, P.J. Axelsson
Marc Savard (3)
Assists: Michael Ryder, P.J. Axelsson