It wasn't a great start. In fact, you could hear a pin drop just 26 seconds into the game because Patrick Sharp deflected a shot past Devan Dubnyk. All the energy that you'd expect in a playoff game with 19,038 screaming Wild fans packed into Xcel Energy Center, was immediately sucked out of the building. Though Minnesota would use the Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville line to get back into the game and ultimately win 5-3 to gain their first win of the First Round series.
Patrick Sharp netted a second goal at 4:10 of the first period when everyone on the Wild was caught out of position. It was horrid play by Minnesota and clearly no the way they wanted to start on home ice.
The Wild team from the last 8 games would've sulked away another loss. Though something switched with this team after the 15 minute mark. The Wild did something it hardly did in both games in Dallas - it possessed the puck. Caused by good forechecking, and finishing checks, but also by a good grinding game, the Wild would tally a late goal inside the final minute by Chris Porter. Porter was set up in the right circle, while Erik Haula had rotated to the point. Haula took a slap-pass in Porter's direction, and Porter deflected the puck past Kari Lehtonen. After an abysmal first five minutes of hockey, the Wild had to feel pretty good about itself heading into the first intermission.
The Wild was alive for the second period. Minnesota had its first real legitimate offensive zone pressure. It was just time in the zone. Minnesota was skating, grinding, and getting pucks to the net. Then a turnover created by Niederreiter in the neutral zone ended up on Jason Pominville's stick. Pominville took a wide angle into the zone while Haula drove the center lane, and Nino drove the off wing-side to the net. Pominville's shot to the front of the net deflected off Haula's stick for the equalizer.
Most of the period was spent a little more even as the Stars tried to push back. The crowd was back in the game and giving their favorite team applause for simple, but effective plays and sustained pressure in the Stars' zone. As Adam Abrams announced the final minute of the period, Nino tried to beat a Dallas defenseman to the outside. He got the puck on net, but Lehtonen stopped the puck, but couldn't control the rebound. That's when Pominville crashed the net and tallied the go-ahead goal. It was Minnesota's first lead of the series, and first lead since the Wild scored first against the Calgary Flames in the regular season finale.
The Stars were no doubt going to play tougher in the third period. After killing off a Pominville roughing minor to start the period, the Wild were back to chipping and chasing out of the zone. That's not normally a recipe for success, especially against a team like Dallas. Mikael Granlund, who has been good all series long even if he has struggled to bury the puck, got accosted by Jordie Benn for a holding minor. On the ensuing power play, Charlie Coyle battled to keep possession of the puck. Once he created some room for himself, he passed the puck up to the point for Jared Spurgeon. Spurgeon wasted no time, nor tried anything fancy. He just shot the puck on net, and Mikko Koivu came from behind the net and put away the rebound.
The Stars got one back when Colton Sceviour's shot went off the glove of Zac Dalpe and past Dubnyk. John Torchetti chose to challenge the goal for goaltender interference. The call on the ice was upheld, making the final five minutes interesting. Pominville scored his second of the night, his 3rd point of the evening, when he knocked saucer pass down out of mid-air and then took a shot from the center red line to the open net that was vacated by Lehtonen.
Jason Pominville was named the game's third star, finished with three points, 15:34, and five shots on goal. Mikael Granlund had 22:14 of ice time with just two shots, but was very effective on the PK, was named the game's second star. Erik Haula, named the first star of the game, scored the game-tying goal, had an assist on the Porter goal, and centered easily the most effective line the Wild had.
Minnesota now trails the series 2-1 with another home game on Wednesday evening starting at 8:30 PM. The Wild will need the same exact effort it had for 55 minutes in tonight's game to have a chance to win and force the series to six games.