Minnesota showed a bit of life and resiliency, but even with out-shooting the Stars 16-4 in the third period, the inability to score when the team needs it the most comes back to haunt them. The Wild lost to John Klingberg and the Stars in overtime. Erik Haula, who likes to score against (and headbutt) Kari Lehtonen, Justin Fontaine, and Mikko Koivu were the goal scorers for the Wild.
The Wild came out using its best asset early - its speed. Erik Haula looped around the defensive zone and up the left side boards. Thomas Vanek, coming off a healthy scratch in the last game, found Haula with a perfect pass at the blue line. Haula's speed allowed him to get behind the Stars; defense and ultimately a 1-on-1 with the goalie Lehtonen. Haula went forehand-to-backhand and shelfed it.
The Stars came right back though. They were able to get a couple of shifts that hemmed the Wild in the defensive zone for an extended period of time. Missed clears, losing races to open pucks, and four shots on Darcy Kuemper ended with the tying goal from Alex Goligoski. If you want to see the reason Wild fans have had little hope during this stretch, watch the sequence of events right before the Goligoski goal at 9:47 of the first period.
But this Wild team had something different in them Tuesday night. It showed that it won't wither away after getting punched back. Erik Haula found Justin Fontaine with a pass as the Wild crossed the blue line in a 4-on-0. Fontaine faked the pass and roofed it over the glove of Lehtonen. Doing the fake at full speed takes skill, and luckily he didn't flub the opportunity. Minnesota ended up out-shooting the Stars 12-10 for the period with each trading a power play opportunity.
But playing well in one period isn't going to snap any team out of a slump. No, the Wild usually have trouble playing a full 60 minutes. The second period was that period in which Minnesota would relinquish the lead. Jason Demers found the back of the net, followed by Patrick Eaves to take the lead. The Wild ended with nine shots in the period, but had only 2 shots until the 12 minute mark of the period. At the end of the period, after a nice shift by the Mikko Koivu - Zach Parise - Charlie Coyle line drew a penalty that would carry over to the third.
Opening the third period with a chance to tie, Mikko Koivu, the captain, found the back of the net after crashing the net with all kinds of bodies in the crease for the tying tally. The goal was originally credited to Matt Dumba, who was lying in the crease after his shot went off the post. Koivu then poked the puck out from under Dumba's glove and into the net. The goal was reviewed, called a good goal, and Stars head coach Lindy Ruff decided not to challenge the play.
Which is good for the Wild that he didn't challenge. However, why would he have been allowed to challenge the play, is beyond me. If the officials already look at the play in an official timeout and not a challenge, the goal play should be looked at in its entirety to make sure the legality is good. That means checking on things that a coach would challenge for as well. Offside, goalie interference, anything should be looked at if the officials go to the War Room for a review. Instead, they look at the whether or not the puck crossed the line and leaves room for the coach to challenge a play that has already been looked at.
Luckily, in this case, Ruff did not do that. But the idea that it was there to begin with is ridiculous.
The Wild continued to pressure in the Stars's zone, keeping the Stars shotless in the period until the after the 13 minute mark of the frame. Minnesota had 17 shots on goal in the period. Parise had a great chance in the slot. Nino Niederreiter had the game on his stick when he had an open net to shoot at as the puck squirted out to him on the right side. However, Lehtonen had stretched his left pad and glove out to turn away the chance.
The Wild lasted until overtime. A point. A very much need point in the standings. But for a team looking to get a win in the most desperate of ways, needed to end the game on a high note.
Except John Klingberg plays for the Stars. And he would, again, defeat the Wild in overtime. Thomas Vanek, who was gassed, failed to get the puck deep in to the Stars' zone and turned it over at the offensive blue line. Marco Scandella and Niederreiter were the only players back as Vanek went to the bench. The puck ended up on Kilngberg's stick and into the back of the net before Parise could get back into the play, coming on for Vanek.
The Wild showed better effort, played respectable hockey, but just couldn't find the win column.