Did the playoffs start Saturday night? Minnesota weathered an onslaught from the Stars to find a 2-1 victory on the road in Dallas. Ryan Carter and Thomas Vanek's game-winner just past the mid-way point of the second period was just barely enough to down the Stars.
Don't blame Dumba for Flyers opening goal
A closer look at the putrid defensive zone effort that led to the Flyers opening the scoring on Thursday night.
The first period wasn't pretty. Dallas had nearly a 4:1 ratio in shot attempts in the period over the Wild with a 32-8 margin. Minnesota did good enough to block a ton of shots and only trailed in the shots on goal category 11-6 after one period and a scoreless tie. It almost wasn't a scoreless tie when it looked like John Klingberg had scored early in the first. Mike Yeo challenged the goal for goalie interference. It appeared that Antoine Roussel was in the blue paint with both skates before the shot was fired and it prevented Devan Dubnyk from making the save. According to Rule 69.3:
Rule 69.3 pic.twitter.com/0NAUDKtIzN— vernon (@MikePermute) January 10, 2016
So, even without actually making contact (see below), the goal was over-turned and the scoreboard kept at zeros. It was good too for former Minnesota Golden Gopher Mike Reilly in his NHL debut as his pass up the boards was turned over and led to the Klingberg goal/no-goal. Ultimately, Reilly played 8:25 and got one shot on goal. He still has a ways to develop, but his skill set is something the Wild can definitely use.
Wild challenge it for goalie interference, and it works. No goal. *turns off mentions in anticipation of fan wrath* pic.twitter.com/WR6ZEQv5Sj— Stephanie (@myregularface) January 10, 2016
Dubnyk really had to stand on his head just and at times made some really miraculous saves to keep his team in the game.
in the second period, the Wild finally came out of the locker room. It did a much better job of keeping most of the shots and chances to the perimeter, and went to work on the defenders of the Stars. The Stars really have a dynamic and fast team, but the goalie can be beat, and the defensemen hate to play in their own zone. What the Wild did was keep possession of the puck and put the grind on those defensemen. It led to good zone time, even if it didn't end with a flurry of shots. Football coaches like to win the time of possession battle as it means they can control the clock and keep the other team's offense off the field. For the Wild, the best defense was to do exactly what it did, by keeping the puck in the offensive zone for as long as it could no matter if the shots came or not. As long as it was in the offensive zone, Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and John Klingberg couldn't hurt them.
A shift from the fourth line ended up breaking the scoreless tie. Jarret Stoll sent the puck to the front of the net where Erik Haula was crashing. Haula was stopped and defended hard, but he was able to knock the puck to the right of Antti Niemi, where Ryan Carter was able to tap the puck in.
Eight minutes later with the Wild continuing to pressure the Stars' defense, a failed breakout went off of Charlie Coyle right to Thomas Vanek. Vanek was the last person in the Stars' zone and had all the time and space he needed to deke Niemi out of his pads for the goal.
Early in the third period, Jared Spurgeon took a high stick to the face and was bleeding badly as he left the ice to get stitched up. Upon replay the stick was Tyler Seguin's.
Tyler Seguin takes a swing at a puck in mid-air but misses and hits Jared Spurgeon in the mouth https://t.co/PFeRGku4Qp— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) January 10, 2016
Now what you see here is Tyler Seguin swinging his stick attempting to bat the puck into the net out of mid-air. However, he missed completely and caught Spurgeon. The puck was above the crossbar at the time of Seguin trying to hack at the puck like David Ortiz hitting a home run, which would make any contact with puck illegal. Making contact with Spurgeon should have then resulted in a penalty, and being that he was bloodied, a 4-minute double-minor at the very least. Instead, the play was blown dead because of a puck being played with a high stick and another Stars player touching the puck, and no penalty was called. After the game Mike Yeo said, " they couldn't tell who's stick it was." Regardless, it should have been a penalty. Period. The fact that it wasn't is a complete farce, and the refs saying they didn't see which stick it was is about as bad of an excuse as a teenager saying that they fell asleep watching a movie after coming in the house past curfew.
Later on in the period, with the Wild getting some chances because the Stars were pressing, Jason Zucker was denied on breakaway and Nino Niederreiter was hooked on a 2-on-1 that resulted in no penalty being called. With just under five minutes remaining, Justin Fontaine was called for a high sticking minor. Lindy Ruff pulled his goalie to make it a 6-on-4 advantage. After some magnificent saves from Devan Dubnyk, and a multitude of failed clearing attempts, a Patrick Sharp shot from the point was blocked by Spurgeon and landed on the stick of Jamie Benn. Benn, who was robbed on an earlier point-blank shot by Dubnyk, finally got one through.
This set up a frenzied final few minutes as Dubnyk had to make a great save on Seguin, and the Wild held on to for the victory. You can never count the Stars out of it, and after going 0-1-2 in the three previous head-to-head match-ups, it was a solid win on the road. Minnesota now flies home to take on the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night.