Well...it finally happened Saturday night for the Wild. It was a long time coming this year. Another 4-1 victory on home ice and Matt Dumba got his first goal of the season. Oh and Mikael Granlund got his first of the season as well. Then some schmuck from Austria had the audacity to break the Wild's power play 0-fer streak.
Yes, the Wild finally scored on the power play for the first time this season as Thomas Vanek got off the schneid in a late second period power play against the Dallas Stars.
Oh, by the way, insert obligatory "Norm Green Sucks."
Minnesota welcomed the Stars and enjoyed a fast, speedy first period in which both teams exchanged scoring chances like two prize fighters exchanging haymakers. However, Darcy Kuemper and Kari Lehtonen were equal to the task every step of the way.
Whatever the Wild do during first intermissions of games, they need to keep doing as they really picked up the pace and started dominating the puck possession battle after a pretty even first period. Then Mikael Granlund streaked into the Stars' end with plenty of options to pass, but instead shot and opened the scoring for the game for the Wild.
At 13:14 of the second, during a segment in which the Wild were scrambling around their net, Matt Dumba walked the blue line and let go a seeing-eye wrister that snuck past the right pad of Lehtonen. Dumba, whose early season struggles weren't apparent Saturday night, got his first of the season.
Eight. Just eight seconds later, when the TV came back on, Vernon Fiddler got the Stars back within one. It was the quickest that two teams combined for two goals in Wild history.
Late in the second came the Wild's second power play opportunity after Jamie Benn took penalty. The Wild were snapping the puck around the Dallas box formation and Zach Parise found Thomas Vanek alone and unmolested in the slot for his first of the season and the power play's first of the season.
Jason Zucker keeps getting better. He is absolutely flying around the ice and creating all kinds of havoc for the opposition. Nowhere was that more apparent than in the third period when Zucker caught up to Stars captain Jamie Benn and stole the puck from him with a stick lift. Benn immediately spun around and two-handed slashed Zucker in the mid-section. Zucker was also on a number of odd-man rushes. The kid is looking really impressive this early into the season.
The Wild were the only goal scorers in the third period after another dumb Benn penalty got the Wild power play back on the ice. The Wild were about as dominant as they were in Opening night during this power play by getting great shots on net, finding rebounds, and keeping extended zone time. Finally, Nino Niederreiter tipped home a Ryan Suter shot in past Lehtonen. That extended the lead to 4-1 and the Wild, whose power play struggles have been well documented, were able to capitalize on two of their four opportunities.
Darcy Kuemper stopped 19 of 20 shots and improved to 6-2 on the year.
The Wild penalty killing continues to be impressive as it didn't allow any goals in four tries while only allowing five shots on goal. Only one of those shots came during a 1:38 two man-disadvantage.