Two goal leads are the worst leads in hockey. You’ve heard that before, right? What people are describing is essentially score effects in a game as the team with the lead likely plays more conservative and allows the other team to get more shots. We’ve seen it now two games in a row. Minnesota erases two two-goal deficits in San Jose on Thursday, and the Kings, with a lot of game to play still, erased a two-goal first period deficit on the Wild to win in overtime.
The first 10 minutes for the Wild in the first period was about as solid a period of play the Wild have had in Los Angeles. Mikko Koivu, who’s been on a tear, found the back of the net with a snap shot through Kings netminder Petr Budaj. A softer goal that Budaj should have stopped, but the Wild will take the goals no matter how they come. Charlie Coyle then took a feed from Jason Pominville and dove the puck into the net at 7:27 of the first. Minnesota was able to establish it’s forecheck early and were playing physical as the Kings are want to do. Los Angeles held a 9-6 shot advantage after one period of play.
You could sense the ice, which was in poor shape all game, with pucks bouncing, sticking, and guys falling all over the place, was tilting towards the Minnesota end. The Wild’s zone exits weren’t helping either. There was less skating and a lot more chipping of the puck out of the zone, allowing the Kings to reset and continue to pressure.
Jeff Carter, the only King that is finding the net with some regularity, slid one past Kuemper short side for the Kings’ first goal. The period started much the same way the second half of the first period played out. More bad passing out of the zone, and the Kings pressuring for extended chunks of time led to the Wild playing a lot in their own zone. Then Wild 1st franchise draft pick Marian Gaborik scored his second of the season and tied the game when his shot was stopped by Darcy Kuemper initially and then bounced in off of Ryan Suter’s visor.
Bruce Boudreau jumbled lines as he moved Nino Niederreiter down to the fourth line and moved Chris Stewart up momentarily. Niederreiter would eventually finish the game with Haula and Pominville on the third line and Stewart would hardly see the ice when Boudreau shortened his bench.
Jake Muzzin scored 54 seconds into the third period to give the Kings the lead. Kuemper was deep in his crease and was also down early in his butterfly as Muzzin found the corner over the blocker. Minnesota would get its first power play when Zach Parise was interfered with. The power play would not look good. However, in crunch time, the power play would cash in. Minnesota emptied the net for the extra attacker, they’s also get a power play when Drew Doughty took a tripping penalty. It would be Parise from Eric Staal and Koivu to get the goal to tie the game at three with 43 seconds left in regulation.
Both teams would get two shots on goal in the 3-on-3 overtime period, but it would be Tanner Pearson deflecting a Martinez shot from the wing into the net for the game winner.
Kuemper was good early. He looked calm until the Carter goal changed things. You can blame Kuemper, but the skaters in front of him didn’t help him at all. Still, the Wild stole a point on the road and will head down Interstate 5 to Anaheim and play the Ducks on Sunday in the second of a back-to-back.