Getting sent down to the minor-league club for the weekend seems to have agreed with Jordan Greenway.
Not only did the youngster tally a hat trick for the Iowa Wild on Saturday, he followed that up with his first career NHL goal in the regular season in a 5-2 loss to against Vancouver on Monday night.
Greenway also scored a goal in the playoffs last year.
For a Wild team who has been consistently slow out of the gate in games, Greenway’s enthusiastic goal was just what the team needed.
The 21-year-old didn’t exactly light things up in his first nine games with the Wild to start the season.
He had one assist and eight shots on goal, plus nine hits. He wasn’t doing anything particularly egregious either, like making careless mistakes one might expect from a rookie. He also wasn’t playing a ton of minutes — averaging 11:22 time on ice — and hit the ice anywhere from 7:50 in the opener to 14:35 for a season-high in the third game of the season.
So it made sense when the Wild sent him down to Iowa with the return of Joel Eriksson Ek looming. Greenway needed minutes and needed to find some confidence. Shooting the puck a little more couldn’t hurt either. He responded with three goals and five shots on goal in two games with Iowa, including his hat trick and four shots during a 6-1 victory over Colorado (AHL).
The plan all along was to call Greenway back up when the Wild headed out west to start the road trip. Greenway entered the lineup with J.T. Brown as a healthy scratch.
Who’s to say if there are more trips to Iowa in Greenway’s future, but he certainly handled the first one well. He might even be able to rub it in with fellow teammate Jason Zucker, a guy that went up and down I-35 so much that he could probably point out any and all landmarks by heart.
Standing at 6-foot-6, the left winger Greenway has a lot to offer as one of the “big guys” on a hockey team. He played on a line with Matt Read and another bulky fellow in Charlie Coyle. Greenway also saw some minutes with Eric Staal centering the line as coach Bruce Boudreau juggled things around mid-game.
Greenway made his debut last March 27 after 35 points in 36 games at Boston University last season. He was a second-round draft pick of the Wild in 2015. This is a player no doubt still learning and adapting to the NHL, but the potential is there for him to be a physical, offensive player.
Boudreau must have seen something he liked on Monday, too, because he had Greenway out there with the Wild’s top players in the final minutes of the game with the goaltender pulled. Greenway positioned himself in front of the net, trying to grab a rebound and pound away for another goal.
Winning streak halted in Vancouver
Despite the early goal from Greenway, the Wild’s five-game winning streak was halted in Vancouver.
The game marked the first of another back-to-back series as the team travels to Edmonton for a game Tuesday. It’s also the start of a franchise-record seven-game road trip, though the Wild will travel back home to break up the road games that don’t end until the Wild host the defending-champion Washington Capitals on Nov. 13.
Mikael Granlund’s younger brother, Markus, got the Canucks on the board first as the Wild got caught a bit flat-footed in their own zone. It continued the Wild’s trend of letting the other team score first, something that’s happened in eight of their past nine games. Greenway’s tying goal came just 35 seconds later with an effort right in front of the net to put the puck in the net.
The birthday boy – Staal turned 34 on Monday – was denied a breakaway goal opportunity as time wound down in the first period against the Canucks. He looked to be hooked on the play. To throw salt into the wound, he appeared to be hooked on the play and speculation went to awarding him a penalty shot or at the very least a Wild power play. Neither took place.
A few minutes into the second, Staal spent some time in the penalty box with an interference call on the Wild’s power play. It proved costly as Jake Virtanen beat Devan Dubnyk with a long-range shot on the glove side for a 2-1 Canucks lead 5:15 into the second period. The Wild came into the game 10-for-10 on the penalty kill through the past two games and 17-for-18 in the past four.
It’s a good thing for the Wild that they’ve had such a strong penalty kill lately, because trips to the box have been plentiful. They finished 3-for-4 on the kill while going 1-for-5 on their own power play.
The Canucks took a 3-1 lead less than two minutes later when the Wild failed to clear the puck out of their own zone.
Ryan Suter got one back on a Wild power play late in the second period to make it 3-2. Granlund – Mikael – assisted on the goal to keep his points streak going, reaching eight games. Granlund set a franchise record with a 12-game point streak in January-February of 2017, according to the Minnesota Wild PR on Twitter.
The Wild did some more penalty killing in the third but to their credit came back with a solid few minutes of forechecking. Unfortunately, Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson scored his second of the game on a breakaway after blocking a Matt Dumba shot to take a 4-2 lead. The Wild outshot the Canucks 17-6 in the third, but an empty-netter sealed a 5-2 Wild loss. It was the first game this season where a slow start really seemed to catch up with Minnesota.
Special teams can mess with a game’s final stats for players, but Greenway will still have that first goal he was so excited about. Greenway had three shots on goal and two hits to go along with his goal in 10:51 of ice time. Maybe this stretch will be enough to give Greenway the momentum he needs to really find his groove in the NHL as the calendar turns to November.
- Suter played in his 1,000th game last week against Los Angeles and tallied a pair of assists in the victory. The Wild honored his milestone with a pregame ceremony before the game against Colorado last Saturday night.
- Other round-number milestones coming up: 200 goals for Mikko Koivu, 700 points for Zach Parise, 400 goals for Staal and 200 assists for Granlund.
- The Wild have carried over a trend from last season so far, playing well at home. They’re the only NHL team without a regulation loss on home ice this season (5-0-2).
- Nino Niederreiter is still scoreless this season. He’s trying to find his way after an injury-plagued 2017-18 campaign.
- The Wild are 5-2-1 when the opponent scores first this season.