The Minnesota Wild recovered from a slow start for a whole 5:36 of the second period to snatch 3rd place in the Central Division. Eric Staal scored his 900th career point in the win, while Alex Stalock stopped 38 shots in a sensational effort in the blue paint.
The first period was another Minnesota Wild-patented “Slow Start.” It took nearly 4 minutes for the Wild to get their first shot on goal. It was a good one as Andy Greene had to sweep a puck off the goal line. Devils’ goaltender Eddie Lack looked like he had issues reading the puck, but it wouldn’t matter. The Wild hardly tested him the rest of the period as the Devils racked up 18 shots on goal. Minnesota did a lot of defending and was forced to the penalty box three times in the frame. Taylor “Wild Killer” Hall got time and space on the second of those man advantages and sniped the puck off the post and in to make it a 1-0 score. Wild netminder Alex Stalock was completely screened on the shot and had almost no chance to make the save. He was, however, good on the other 17 in the period.
Things would get worse before they’d get better. A pinballing puck would eventually get corralled by Stefan Noesen and shot in past Stalock. It wasn’t good and the Devils looked to be in control. Finally the Wild forced the issue just enough to where Eric Staal drew a penalty. The Wild couldn’t score with the man advantage, but as soon as the minor to Nico Hischier expired, Mike Reilly took a shot from the let offensive circle that went through the wickets of Matt Dumba at top of the crease, hit Lack, then caromed back into the net off of John Moore. The Wild were on the board and they absolutely didn’t deserve it.
Joel Eriksson Ek snapped a 50 game goal streak in Monday’s win over the Islanders. Daniel Winnik would get him the puck to score his 2nd in as many games. Winnik lowered his shoulder and drove the net. He found Eriksson Ek on the open side of the net for a one-handed tap-in. Just 39 ticks on the clock later Chris Stewart gave the Wild the lead. With the same line on the ice that scored to the tie the game, Winnik tried moving the puck out of the Wild zone. Andy Greene stood him up with a heavy hit, but the puck squirted out of the zone. Stewart gathered in the puck and took it the rest of the way. He used Eriksson Ek as a decoy and looked Lack off before sweeping the puck through the five-hole.
The third period was back on the side of the Devils. They outshot the Wild 16-6 for the period as Stalock stood on his head. He absolutely robbed Hall of his second goal of the night when a pass from behind the net went against the grain and Stalock had to change the direction of his slide from whence he came. The Devils, when they get behind, start shooting from all angles to create chaos. It’s a good strategy, but Stalock was good. Stalock had to make a fantastic save on Nico Hischier in the slot when he directed the puck high over the net by throwing his glove out in desperation.
The Wild would do just enough to keep New Jersey at bay and Eric Staal would cinch the game, and his 900th career point, with an empty-net goal. Coyle would get the assist and continued a decent few weeks for him here in February. Eddie Lack was forced to make a save as the puck off the stick of Alex Stalock was heading toward the net Lack just vacated. Lack denied us all of a goalie goal. Darn him all to heck.