The Minnesota Wild rallied past the Dallas Stars to get back into their first round playoff series. A late first period goal turned into a 5-3 victory for the Wild Monday at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild (1-2) dominated the game for the better part of the final 50 minutes. The result was a four-goal spurt and a 23-12 edge in shots over that time. The turnaround really began in that latter stages of Game 2, in which the Wild started to mount pressure in the Stars’ zone and create chances. The confidence to make plays and force mistakes carried over into Game 3.
“We started to get it to our game,” Devan Dubnyk said. “It did start as Game 2 went on. Tonight, that’s our game. That’s exactly how we play and can overwhelm teams and be relentless. That’s our identity and we showed that tonight.”
As the momentum turned the Wild finally got on the board when Chris Porter re-directed a shot/pass from Erik Haula into an open net behind Kari Lehtonen with 50 seconds remaining in the first period. Porter didn’t have position but got his stick around Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski to tip the pass.
“(Porter is) playing with a lot of confidence out there,” John Torchetti said. “He is playing with a lot of speed. When you’re playing with speed, you’re not worrying about systems because you know you are going to get there. It was a big goal because we kept pressuring out there. He got in front and got a big goal.”
After the first intermission, the Haula line took over. The trio of Haula, Jason Pominville and Nino Niederreiter combined to score three goals and four assists.
Haula got them started by re-directing a shot from Pominville off rush between the legs of Lehtonen. Pominville put the Wild ahead for the first time in the series and for good in the game by knocking a rebound past Lehtonen. He followed up a rush by Niederreiter with the Stars caught in a line change. During a 4-on-4 situation, they had two players jump on the ice during the change, but both realized pretty quickly that they had five on the ice and both jumped back off. That gave the Wild a 4-on-3 advantage as Niederreiter rushed up the ice.
Pominville later sealed the victory with an empty-net tally from just inside the red line. He intercepted a lead-pass from John Klingberg and fired a shot into the open net.
“The biggest thing for us defending and playing well in our own end. When we do that we have the puck more,” Pominville said. “Tonight we responded well after a tough start and gave up a couple early. Our last two periods were pretty good.”
The Wild took a 4-2 lead with a power play goal 6 minutes, 26 seconds into the third period. Mikko Koivu knocked a rebound past Lehtonen after tipping a shot from Jared Spurgeon.
The Stars (2-1) got back to within a score on a fluky goal at the 13:45 mark of the third period. Jason Demers’ shot from the blue line was partially blocked by Zac Dalpe, but his deflection caromed off the body of Colton Sceviour and into the net.
Patrick Sharp was the show early. The winger got the Stars on the board with a pair of goals in the first five minutes of the game. He re-directed a shot from Goligoski 26 seconds into the game. Then he got behind the Wild defense for a breakaway shot past Dubnyk on the far side at the 4:10 mark.
No. 3 – Devan Dubnyk. The Wild goaltender stopped 14 shots.
No. 2 – Erik Haula. The Wild forward scored a goal and had an assist.
No. 1 – Jason Pominville. The Wild forward had two goals and an assist.