The Stars grabbed an early 2-0 lead, but couldn’t hold it. Minnesota scored late in the first period, got some momentum and built a 4-2 lead by early in the third period.
“We didn’t play near as well as we needed to play,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Probably as bad as I’ve seen us play in maybe five weeks.”
The Stars managed just 17 shots on goal in the game, equaling their season-low during the regular season. They gave up goals in the final minute of both the first and second periods. The five goals against were the most allowed by the Stars in more than a month.
“A lot of it was execution, playmaking, our transition game from defense to forwards,” said Ruff. “We turned some pucks over that cost us goals. We turned over plenty of pucks. We were just slow; we were slow making plays.”
“Give them credit, they played a good game, they played with a lot of speed and scored some timely goals,” Stars forward Patrick Sharp said of the Wild. “You could tell that they fed off the energy of their fans. We’ll take what we can as far as positives from this game and be ready for Game 4.”
Sharp scored two goals for the Stars. Colton Sceviour also scored. Kari Lehtonen stopped 20 of 24 shots.
“We had a great start, but we couldn’t keep it going, and we didn’t have our best game,” Lehtonen said. “It’s so tight. Every team is good. You have to have your best game out there if you want to come out with the win. This was today, and we’ll just keep going.”
Jason Pominville recorded three points (two goals, one assist) for the Wild, who snapped a seven-game losing streak that included five regular season games and two in the playoffs.
“It's only a two-game losing streak for me in the playoffs, that was the number one thing,” said Wild coach John Torchetti. “It's one-two [in the series], now we have to come out, get a good effort, not worrying about what happened before. That was a big response for our fans. They deserved that type of play, and we want to come out again, and if they come out and support us like that, we want to give them a hard game again.”
The Stars got off to a good start with Sharp scoring twice early in the first period to give the team a 2-0 lead. Sharp scored 26 seconds into the game, tipping an Alex Goligoski shot past Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk to put the Stars up 1-0. Sharp struck again, tallying from the left circle off the rush to make it a 2-0 game at the 4:10 mark.
Dubnyk came up big at the 14:20 mark of the first, stopping a point-blank shot by Radek Faksa to keep it a 2-0 game. And the Wild were able to get on the board late in the first when Chris Porter redirected an Erik Haula pass into the net to cut Dallas’ lead to 2-1 with 49.5 seconds left in the first.
"Haulsy kind of fumbled it on the blue line and made a great play over there and I was fortunate to put it in,” Porter said. “We did build some momentum after that.”
The Wild scored twice in the second to take a 3-2 lead. A Pominville shot from the left wing deflected off Haula and past Lehtonen to make it a 2-2 game at the 6:04 mark. And the Wild struck in the final minute of the second when Nino Niederreiter put a shot on net off the rush, and Pominville scored on the rebound to put the Wild up 3-2 with 46.3 seconds left in the second.
“We threw the kitchen sink at them,” Haula said. “We got a huge goal there when [Porter] scored a really nice goal, got the crowd going and got some energy from that. Then I feel like from there, we slowly started playing better and taking the game over.”
The Wild extended the lead to 4-2 with a power play goal. Mikko Koivu grabbed the rebound of a Jared Spurgeon shot and slipped a backhand shot past Lehtonen at 6:26 of the third.
The Stars made it interesting, cutting the lead to 4-3 at the 13:45 mark. A Jason Demers shot from the point hit Wild center Zac Dalpe and Sceviour before going into the net. Minnesota challenged for goaltender interference on Stars forward Mattias Janmark, but lost, and the goal stood.
The Stars pulled Lehtonen for an extra attacker, but Pominville scored into the empty net with 1:14 remaining to seal the win for the Wild.
Stars center Tyler Seguin missed Monday’s game and is listed as day-to-day with an issue related to the Achilles injury that kept him out the last ten games of the regular season and first game of the playoff series with Minnesota. Seguin is in Dallas rehabbing.
Seguin played in Game 2 of the series Saturday. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Seguin did not injure the Achilles more in Saturday’s game.
“Not the injury, but it is kind of related,” Ruff said. “Might be kind of a fallout of all of a sudden playing at a high pace.”
Dallas defenseman Kris Russell missed Monday’s game due to illness. With Russell not playing, Jordie Benn came into the lineup after sitting out the first two games of the series as a healthy scratch.
*The Wild outshot the Stars 25-17 and had a 54-47 advantage in shot attempts.
*Patrick Sharp led the Stars with 7 shots on goal and 9 shots attempts. Jason Pominville led Minnesota with 5 shots on goal and was one of three Wild players with 7 shot attempts.
*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and 1-2 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 34 of 69 faceoffs (49 percent).
*Cody Eakin won 13 of 23 faceoffs (57 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 6 of 8 (75 percent). Radek Faksa won 5 of 11 (45 percent). Jason Spezza won 7 of 17 (41 percent). Minnesota’s Erik Haula won 11 of 21 (52 percent).
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 25:13 of ice time. Ryan Suter led the Wild with 27:18.
Game 4 is Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Start time for the game is 8:30 p.m.
Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Patrick Sharp
Mattias Janmark – Jason Spezza – Valeri Nichushkin
Antoine Roussel – Radek Faksa – Ales Hemsky
Colton Sceviour – Vernon Fiddler – Patrick Eaves
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya – Stephen Johns
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Injured: Tyler Seguin (Achilles), Kris Russell (illness)
Scratched: Travis Moen, Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.