Matt Hackett Stands Tall in 6th Straight Win for Surging Minnesota Wild

James Harrison Jr.@JamesHarrisonIIContributor IIDecember 9, 2011

SAN JOSE, CA - DECEMBER 06:  Matt Hackett #31 of the Minnesota Wild spits out water during their game against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion at San Jose on December 6, 2011 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After Tuesday's 34-save shutout (one goal was given up by Josh Harding) in San Jose, Matt Hackett and the surging Minnesota Wild landed in Los Angeles Thursday to face the Kings. The Wild came into the game confident that Hackett was a suitable replacement for the injured Nicklas Backstrom and Harding.

Giving up 93 attempted shots against the Sharks, the Wild were looking to have an offensive game of their own. However, the Wild are 12-6-0 when allowing the first goal this season, displaying the team's confidence in themselves and their tenacious playing style.

Minnesota had won their previous five games, their third five-game winning streak this season, and had their hearts set on a sixth. Not only did they win their sixth game, the Wild won their sixth straight road game, which is a franchise record.

Mikko Koivu set the tone early in the game, scoring 24 seconds in on a wraparound goal. That was the only goal scored in the first period, despite the Kings out-shooting the Wild 13-12. Again, the Wild came out firing, and Darrel Powe scored 1:25 into the second, followed by Marco Scandella at 3:58 and Cody Almond scoring in the third. The final score was 4-2 in favor of the Wild.

Two goals were scored against 21-year-old rookie goalie Hackett by Penner and Hunter. Giving up two goals in what seemed like an effortless win doesn't seem outstanding. But Hackett stood on his head multiple times, making 42 saves on 44 shots on goal. Considering a 34 out of 34 save night on Tuesday, a 42 out of 44 save night on Thursday is superb. 

Remembering that Hackett is a 21-year-old rookie and was forced to play unexpectedly through an injury to Harding makes his two performances that much more incredible. "It's amazing, I'm just playing my game," Hackett said in a postgame interview with Fox Sports North.

Maybe the Wild have found another diamond in the rough at goalie, although the entire corps of Minnesota rookies is doing great. It will be exciting to see what moves the Wild make as the trade deadline approaches.

Other notes: Kyle Brodziak ejected after boarding call on Anze Kopitar, call-up Jeff Taffe produced an assist in the first period, Wild are in Phoenix on Saturday.