The Minnesota Wild had a pair of one-goal leads in the second period, but could not hold either. The Dallas Stars scored twice to tie the game before getting their first lead of the game with 1 minute, 6 seconds left in the middle frame.
Jason Spezza got inside position on Jason Pominville and deflected a pass from Jason Demers through Devan Dubnyk for the eventual game-winning goal. Seconds after stepping out of the penalty box Jamie Benn started a rush from his own zone and sent a cross ice pass to Demers just inside the Wild blue line. Pominville tried to break up the initial pass before turning and trying to stop Spezza. Pominville took away his stick, but not his feet.
The Wild pressured almost the entire third period, but could not get the equalizer in the third and fell 3-2 Wednesday at the Xcel Energy Center in Game 4 of their first round Stanley Cup playoff series. It looked like they just ran out of gas in the latter stages, including a four-minute power play with just under 90 seconds left in the game.
“We put a lot of energy into this game for sure,” Pominville said. “It’s unfortunate that their special teams won the battle. I thought 5-on-5 we played pretty well. We were physical. We fed off the energy of the crowd. Their power play was better than ours and they won the game.”
Despite the Wild having a 14-2 edge in shots on goal, it was the defensive mindset of the Stars that kept the Wild having more than a couple good scoring chances.
“We stayed inside,” Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said. “We’ve done a really good job this year of when we have the lead that we stay away from high quality (scoring chances). A lot of times when teams have a lead the shots will go up against, but they can’t quite get the quality because (the leading team) won’t leave the middle of the ice very often.”
Pominville and Charlie Coyle scored a pair of even strength goals to take 1-0 and 2-1 leads 5 minutes, 13 seconds apart.
Pominville got the scoring started when a shot by Nino Niederreiter hit his leg and went in behind Antti Niemi. Then 1 minute, 3 seconds after the Stars tied the game at 1-1, Coyle beat Niemi with a backhand tip around the goaltender while fending off Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski.
The Stars (3-1) scored both of their power play goals within five minutes after the Wild took their leads. Ales Hemsky got the Stars first power play goal with a rocket shot over the shoulder Dubnyk. Colton Sceviour was parked right in front of the Wild’s goaltender, but Dubnyk looked the wrong way around the Stars forward leaving a lot of room on the short side for Hemsky. That goal came 4 minutes, 10 seconds after the Wild scored first.
The Wild’s second lead last 3 minutes, 10 seconds. Patrick Eaves got position going to the front of the net and tipped a shot from Kris Russell just before Dubnyk could catch the line drive shot.
The Wild (1-3) are one loss away from elimination and still several wins away from advancing. The Wild are no strangers to rallying from 3-1 series deficits, but it has been 13 years since they won three-straight to advance in a series.
“We have an opportunity to do something special,” Pominville said. “Something that doesn’t happen that often. We have to focus on one game. Go win a game (in Dallas) and who knows what happens after that.”
No. 3 – Charlie Coyle. The Wild forward scored a goal.
No. 2 – Jason Spezza. The Stars forward had a goal and an assist.
No. 1 – Antti Niemi. The Stars goaltender stopped 28 shots.