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Now that Wild’s Jordan Greenway finally scored, ‘hopefully the floodgates are open’

He used his 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame to dominate throughout Tuesday’s game and scored his first goal of the season on a redirection in front of the net.

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ST. PAUL — With the Wild clinging to a one-goal lead in the final moments of Sunday’s game at Xcel Energy Center, coach Dean Evason called upon his most reliable line of Joel Eriksson Ek centering Jordan Greenway and Marcus Foligno.

While there was an empty net on the other end after the Tampa Bay Lightning pulled goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy in favor of an extra attacker, Evason was confident that his players on the ice understood the assignment. It’s not about scoring goals at that point in the game. It’s about making sure the other team doesn’t.

In the end, the Wild held the Lightning without a shot on goal in the final minutes, and Foligno put the exclamation point on a 4-2 victory with an empty-netter. A couple of shifts before that, Greenway had a shot at the empty net. He missed wide on what would have been his first goal of the season.

“Was I looking for it? Oh yeah,” Greenway said with a smile. “But I don’t know if you want your first goal to be an empty-netter.”

Fittingly, a a couple of days later Greenway got rewarded with Tuesday’s breakout performance in a 5-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. He used his 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame to dominate throughout and scored his first goal of the season on a redirection in front of the net.

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“Obviously, it was my first goal, so it’s always nice,” said Greenway, who added a pair of assists in the game “I think that’s a pretty good spot to score. Just around the net.”

This type of game has been a long time coming for Greenway.

Though it’s no secret the coaching staff was frustrated with him earlier this season, Evason has been extremely complimentary of him lately. Even in games in which Greenway hasn’t found the stat sheet, Evason has gone out of his way over the past month or so to highlight his businesslike approach.

“Honestly, talking to him, he was never saying he has no points or whatever,” Evason said. “It’s fun to score goals, though, so I’m sure it was fun for him to score a goal and get rewarded for being in front of the net, doing the gritty work (and) playing like he’s playing. It’s real good.”

Asked about his recent scoring slump, Greenway emphasized that it wasn’t affecting him as much as some might think.

“I’m pretty patient when it comes to the production that’s on the score sheet,” he said. “I really focus on trying to do the right things, and whether it’s Game 1 or Game 20, I believe it will come.”

Now that he’s starting to find some success, Greenway knows he has to stay committed to the process. He has struggled with consistency throughout his career and he candidly admitted a couple of weeks ago that it’s not in his nature to be physical night in and night out.

But Greenway also understands it’s how he has to play the game to have an impact. As Foligno noted, when Greenway is going, “You can’t stop a guy like that.”

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“When he uses his physicality and plays emotionally involved, he’s such a game-changer for us,” Foligno said. “We don’t expect Greener to go out and fight and be this crazy player. But when he does show that emotional side to the game, it’s unbelievable what he does for our team. And the guys rally behind it, too, because he’s so important for us. It’s just understanding that he has to use that frame once in a while.”

Could his most recent performance be a sign of things to come?

“Yeah,” Greenway said. “Hopefully the floodgates are open.”

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