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Wild score six goals in third period, defeat Stars

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Trailing by one after two periods, the Minnesota Wild looked like the team playing the second half of back-to-back games.

A six-goal outburst in the third period changed that, and the Wild won 6-2 against the Dallas Stars at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday.

Minnesota (31-21-7) has won three straight games and moved into the second wild-card position in the Western Conference for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Wild are 11-1-1 since the All-Star break. The six-goal third is a Wild record for one period.

Dallas (27-24-9), which lost 7-6 in overtime to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, has allowed 10 goals in its past two third periods. The Stars are six points behind the Wild, and they have played one more game than Minnesota.

"With the way we played the first half of the game, we asked the guys to invest in the game, knowing they had played back-to-backs," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "Make sure their [defense] has to go back and retrieve pucks, make them play lots of shifts in their own zone. I felt if we could have that mindset to start the third period, that would pay dividends."

Through two periods, many of Minnesota's 20 shots on goal had come from the perimeter. The Wild had hoped to jump on loose pucks, but they were unable to win those battles until the third, when the Stars defensemen began to wear down.

That's when Minnesota pounced.

Zach Parise tied the game at 1-1 at the 1:40 mark, standing at the back door and finishing off a backhand feed from defenseman Christian Folin from the left corner.

Less than two minutes later, Mikko Koivu's shot from a bad angle below the left circle beat Jhonas Enroth five-hole to give the Wild the lead.

Stephane Veilleux shoveled in a loose puck after a Marco Scandella shot from the point hit traffic in front at 8:41, and Matt Dumba made it 4-1 with a power-play goal from the right faceoff dot at 13:25.

"We got one early in the third, and I think we got a jolt of energy from that," Parise said. "We just kept coming after that."

Mikael Granlund took a stretch pass from defenseman Nate Prosser and scored on a breakaway at 14:33 to make it 5-1. Enroth denied Granlund on a breakaway chance earlier in the third.

Parise's second of the night came at 17:52 and made it 6-1. His 25 goals lead the Wild.

"It was embarrassing," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "We lost some battles, their determination was better than ours, and it led to goals. We had four guys in front of our net on one goal. That just can't happen."

Koivu took back-to-back penalties in the second period, and the Stars took advantage on the second one, a delay of game call for shooting the puck over the glass at 13:45.

Jason Spezza ripped a slap shot from the right circle, beating Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk glove side at 14:33. Spezza also scored the final goal of the game with 1:43 remaining, beating Dubnyk five-hole on a short break for his 14th goal.

"I thought that we were doing a lot of good things, but then we got into penalty trouble," Yeo said. "We gave up a goal against. You're playing with fire there. And then we got a little bit frustrated."

Spezza's power-play goal was the first allowed by Minnesota since Jan. 20, a span of 32 man-advantages, two shy of the Wild record of 34.

"In all realty, we were fine [after 40 minutes]," Parise said. "We might have been a little frustrated that we hadn't scored yet. But we were fine. We're pretty comfortable playing down just one goal in the third."

Dubnyk made 18 saves for his 22nd win this season. He's 13-2-1 with a 1.64 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage since being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 14.

"When we've been playing as well as we are and winning the games we have, we just believe we can do it in here," Dubnyk said. "We hadn't been playing our best in the first two periods, and we knew if we upped our game just a little bit, we'd be OK. We upped our game a lot."

Enroth made 29 saves. In three starts against the Wild this season, including two with the Buffalo Sabres, he's allowed 18 goals.

"A back-to-back is no excuse," Stars captain Jamie Benn said. "You got a 1-0 lead after two periods and come out in the third and lay an egg and give up six goals. It's embarrassing. We let our goalie ... we left him hanging tonight when he played a good game."

Dallas will wrap up a stretch of three games in four nights Tuesday with another important Central Division game against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre.

The Wild will host the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday before road games against the Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators later in the week.

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