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Highway to the Danger Zone: Granlund and Top Gun Line Lead Wild to 2-1 Win over Stars

The Wild were still without Zach Parise but the top line of Granlund, Coyle, and Niederreiter lead the way to a somewhat unconventional victory in Big D.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

These are the types of games beat writers hate. Because they usually have deadlines to deal with, doing a rewrite causes added stress. This game was one of those games that did a complete 180 degree turnaround.

The Wild came out of the locker room looking for its second win in a row and in a place they've struggled historically. They were immediately pinned in their own zone by the Stars' top line and to make matters worse, a stupid penalty by Stu Bickel put them short-handed early. Starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper was forced to be great early, and he stood tall between the pipes. Minnesota hardly had a sniff of the offensive zone in the first period; getting their first shot on goal near the 8 minute mark. The Wild ended the first with a delayed penalty and executed a pretty solid 6-on-5 to no avail.

The second period started with little more than a whimper from the Wild as the power play couldn't establish much of anything in the offensive zone. Then Vernon Fiddler attempted a wrap-around from behind Kuemper's cage. Kuemper made a nice initial save, but his defensemen were caught watching the puck and didn't pick up Antoine Roussel who was able to open the scoring. It appeared the Wild were going to roll over and chalk this one up to another loss. Then, while working the defensive zone, Ryan Carter was able to get his stick on the puck and deflected it out to neutral zone where he jumped on it and led a 2-on-1 with Erik Haula. Carter fed Haula who then picked the power right corner on Lehtonen for the tying goal.

That's when the Wild turned the tables on the Stars. It was like watching a completely different team for the final six minutes of the second period.

Forty seconds in to the third, Charlie Coyle sent a soft shot in on Lehtonen from the right circle. Lehtonen bobbled the puck and a hard charging Mikael Granlund picked up the trash for the go-ahead goal. It was only Granlund's second goal and Coyle's third assist of the season. For the rest of the period, it was up to Kuemper to hold the team in it. Kuemper, who was pulled after allowing two goals on two shots on Thursday, made a big statement with a huge comeback game, making 27 saves on 28 shots.

It wasn't pretty, as Mike Yeo would admit after the game, but the win is what was important.