The Minnesota Wild have faced off against the Dallas Stars 70 times. All told, their all-time record is 29-29-1-11. A .500 record. Tonight, the Wild would take the edge in these teams record with a 3-1 come from behind victory on the road. Through the first-two periods the game was a defensive chess match, but the scoring opened up in the third period with your Wild coming out on top.
The Wild threw a curveball at us tonight when they seemed to come out for the 1st period almost ready to play. After everyone got their first-shift jitters out of them, the Wild started to control a lot of the play. Not dominating by any sense of the word, but they were able to keep the Stars from a SOG for the first 11:21 of the game.
As the Wild were finding their legs, Jason Zucker would draw an interference penalty creating a little traffic in front of Ben Bishop, courtesy of Julius Honka. On the ensuing power play, Dallas did a fine job of clogging up the shooting lanes and isolating the puck against the wall in a scrum. The Wild wouldn’t manage a shot on goal with the advantage but created a few opportunities they would look to revisit later in the game.
Once Dallas was able to find their first shot on goal, it seemed to open up the game a bit for them. As the Stars were able to start applying pressure, and with about 5 minutes left in the first period, Honka would again figure in a penalty being called on the ice. This time however he was the victim as Matt Read would hook the Stars defensemen. The Wild held serve a man short and were able to close out the scoreless first period with and 8-6 advantage in the shot department.
In the second period, the Stars really started to pour it on. Devan Dubnyk would face 24 shots in the middle frame, and we should get this out of the way right now, so....
Keep that in your pocket, you’ll be using it a lot.
Dubnyk was in short, outstanding this period and all game long for that matter. Dallas threw the kitchen sink at him and couldn’t break Dubs in the middle frame. Dallas went on 2 power plays in the period, and especially during the second one really put a lot on Dubnyk’s plate. Dubnyk seemed 10 feet tall, and he bailed the boys out quite a few times.
The Stars first power play came of a kind of peculiar situation when Dubnyk was complaining about Jamie Benn putting an elbow to his face. Dubs may have been doing a bit of acting, but there was contact. At any rate, on the ensuing faceoff almost immediately Greg Pateryn would get flagged for slashing. He was guilty, just odd how the karma worked out there. Dubs and the Wild would get the last laugh though. During the kill Mikko Koivu would breakaway with a 2-on-1, having Parise on his wing. Parise drew a holding penalty and that cut the Stars PP short.
The Wild did allow a truckload of shots in the second period but had a few prime opportunities themselves and were able to put up 13 shots against Bishop. Although Bishop was a spectator on the ice by comparison to Dubnyk, he looked just as solid between the pipes and broke up an awful lot of Wild dump-ins as well helping Dallas control the game. The game would head into the third period scoreless and the Stars with a 30-21 shot advantage.
It wouldn’t take long for the high the Wild were feeling off Dubnyk standing on his head in the second period to come crashing down. Jason Spezza would beat Dubnyk with a fantastic tip from a Miro Heiskanen wrister just 36 seconds into the third. It really was a brilliant tip, and it had to be with how well Dubnyk was playing tonight. The Wild took the punch, and stumbled a bit, but they found some life halfway through the period and really poured it on.
Down by 1 with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Wild would even the score when Matt Dumba was just floating around the offensive zone as he’s wanting to do. Sometimes those adventures bite him in the ass, sometimes he scores goals. On this occasion Dumba would find himself unmarked in front of Bishop and a big juicy rebound off a Granlund shot right on his plate. He tapped that home no problem and all of a sudden, the Wild came to life.
With the Wild now really pressing hard (finally) and the game tied you could just kind of tell the Stars were on their heels. The Wild threw everything at Bishop, but it wouldn’t be a shot at all that would beat him. Ryan Suter would break down low to retrieve a loose puck and notice a traffic jam forming in front of the Stars net. He just through the puck in there to see what happens. What happened was Esa Lindell got in the way of the puck and deflected it past his own goalie to give the Wild a 2-1 lead with 7:06 remaining in the game. A goal is a goal though, and a point is a point. That particular point though would be Suter’s 500th career point.
The lead did not relinquish the Wild’s pressure on the Stars. They were still pressing for that extra padding late into the third period. Jordan Greenway had a huge opportunity to get his first career NHL goal and add to the margin, but he waits too long on a perfect feed to him in the slot. He had time to think about it and Bishop easily was able to get over and make the save. Lesson learned kid. You don’t have any time at this level. You need to get that puck off quicker if you’re going to beat an NHL goaltender.
The Stars would try to punch back but it was too little too late for Dallas. Zach Parise would get and empty net goal to seal the deal. The Wild played a strong game tonight, even with that second period. Yeah, the Stars peppered Dubnyk. A lot of those shots were from the outside and the Wild did a fine job of clearing out any traffic. The lone blemish came so early in the third period it’s almost forgotten as a highlight. The Stars would just muster up 4 shots on goal in the final period and the Wild would actually finish the game with a shot advantage of 36-34. Your final score tonight, Wild 3, Stars 1.
Hopefully the Wild have something left in the tank because they’ll be back at it tomorrow. They’ll be back at home for the Tampa Bay Lightning who were waiting in St. Paul Friday night. I’ll be there getting my picture taken with Nordy or something lame like that. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm. See you there!