The Lightning started off slow and failed to gain momentum Thursday night against the Wild in their final meeting of the season.
Minnesota opened the scoring late in the first period after Brayden Point drew a tripping penalty to put the Wild on their second power-play of the night. Eric Stall fed the puck to Zach Parise from the front of the net and Parise scored on the back post with 3 seconds left on the power-play.
Curtis McElhinney kept the Lightning at a one goal deficit after making a key save early in the second period on Jason Zucker's breakaway. Shortly after, Nikita Kucherov notched a goal at 7:42 of the second period to tie the game. The tic-tac-toe passing sequence started with Ondrej Palat taking a blocked shot from Matt Dumba and passing the puck to Mikhail Sergachev, who then found Kucherov in the right circle for a one-timer.
Minnesota quickly retaliated and scored two unanswered goals within 2:11 of each other in the second period. Joel Eriksson Ek and Jason Zucker netted a pair of goals to put the Wild ahead by two. Carson Soucy put the puck past McElhinney on a delayed penalty, but the goal was retracted after the Lightning challenged the play for offside.
Roughly ten minutes into the third period, the Lightning got the spark they needed after Kucherov fired a shot from the top of the right circle on the power-play and scored his second goal of the game. Kucherov now has 20 goals on the season and leads Tampa Bay for goals.
The Bolts rallied to put up a good fight in the third but were unable to secure its equalizer. McElhinney stopped 20-of-23 shots in his 13th start of the season.
Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh, a Minnesota native, returned to the lineup in his hometown after missing the last six games with an upper-body injury.
The Lightning will now travel to Winnipeg as they close out their ninth of 15 back-to-back sets this season when they face the Jets Friday night.
MIN | 14:77 PP Zach Parise (17) - Eric Staal, Jared Spurgeon
TBL | 7:42 Nikita Kucherov (19) - Mikhail Sergachev, Ondrej Palat
MIN | 12:32 Jared Eriksson Ek (4) - Luke Kunin, Marcus Foligno
MIN | 14:43 Ryan Suter (7) - Jordan Greenway
TBL | 9:32 PP Nikita Kucherov (20) - Steven Stamkos, Anthony Cirelli