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Haula, Foucault each score twice as Wild double Heat

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The Canadian Press
12/13/2013 1:06:01 AM
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ABBOTSFORD, B.C. -- Erik Haula made the best of his demotion.

Haula, who was reassigned to Iowa by parent club Minnesota on Monday, scored twice and added an assist in Wild's 4-2 defeat of the Abbotsford Heat in American Hockey League action Thursday.

The 22-year-old Finn now has seven goals on the season, including a goal in Wednesday's 6-2 loss to the Heat.

"He's been a great asset since the beginning," said teammate Kris Foucault, who had two goals of his own Thursday. "He wasn't putting pucks in as much before. But he came down from Minnesota and he's been unreal. Pucks seem to be going in for him right now and that's what we needed."

Haula recorded two assists in six games during his first cup of coffee in the NHL and is hungry for more.

"I'm just trying to play confident and trust the process," said the 2009 seventh-round pick. "I'm trying to do everything I can down here and work really hard. When you do the right things, things will go the right way."

Johan Gustafsson made 28 saves for Iowa (9-13-1), who entered the game 25 points behind the AHL-leading Heat.

"It's a confidence booster," said Foucault. "We're a team struggling with getting wins. We can look back on this game and say we took out the top team. So if we're down one, going into the third period, we can remember this and use it to our advantage."

Now the Wild will need to string some wins together if they want to climb in the standings. They've won more than two in a row just once this year and also had a six-game losing streak.

"They're obviously a great team so it proves to us that we can play with any other team in the league," said Haula. "Now we've just got to stay consistent."

Markus Granlund and Derek Smith scored for Abbotsford (20-7-2). Granlund now has an 11-game point streak, longest active run in the AHL.

Joey MacDonald stopped 30 shots in the losing effort, just their third regulation loss in 20 games.

"Our effort was there, but our execution on a lot of plays wasn't there," said the Heat's Corban Knight. "We had some pretty good chances that we didn't capitalize on, and we made some pretty costly errors at bad times."

The Wild took an early lead, just like Wednesday night's tilt, scoring in the opening two minutes. Haula's initial shot was stopped but Chad Rau's rebound attempt was redirected by Foucault past MacDonald for his third goal of the season at 1:29.

However, the Heat tied the game at 3:49 on a power play. Granlund had two cracks at a Knight rebound and finally chipped it over a sprawling Gustafsson for his 12th of the season.

Smith gave the Heat the lead at 5:49. The veteran of 91 NHL games took a feed from Max Reinhart behind the net and one-timed it for his first AHL goal of the year.

The Heat had a quality chance to build on their lead in the first with a lengthy two-man power play, but the Wild were able to keep most of the opportunities of the league's second-ranked power play to the outside.

"I didn't like our posture on the 5-on-3 at all," said Heat head coach Troy Ward. "Those guys weren't special, and usually they're pretty special. We didn't generate much there, and I thought that inevitably cost us. That was one of the first telling signs that we were starting to fall off the map a little bit."

The Wild tied the game at 6:03 of the second period. Jon Landry chipped the puck over to Haula at the right side of the net. He had two whacks at the puck before finally burying it for his sixth of the season and second in consecutive games.

Then the Wild regained the lead when Haula scored his second of the game in the final minute of the second. Zack Phillips stole the puck from Smith, wheeled to the slot and fired it on net, where Haula was there to pounce on the rebound.

Foucault put the nail in the coffin when he picked up his second 16:58 of the third. He beat the defenceman wide right, got MacDonald to commit and then tucked the puck between the post and his glove, giving him his first multi-goal game in his three-year pro career.

"I kind of blacked out," said Foucault when asked to describe the play. "It was a turnover and capitalized on it. Went in on a 2-on-1 and waited him out, and tucked in behind him."

Earlier in the day the Heat's parent club Calgary announced general manager Jay Feaster had been fired, but the club insists it didn't weigh on their minds during the game.

"We were pretty focused on tonight," said Knight, who was acquired in a trade by Feaster in June. "The coaching staff did a good job of leaving that stuff out and just focusing on the 60 minutes tonight. I don't think that had an effect on us at all tonight."

Hockey (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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