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Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 6, Islanders 4

Kunin, Mitchell score first NHL goals as Minnesota earns first home victory

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 3-2 win against the New York Islanders at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Thursday night:

1. For the third time in franchise history, Minnesota scored a pair of short-handed goals in one game.

The first, by Eric Staal, was the third goal in a span of 2 minutes, 30 seconds of the first period. The second, at 7:17 of the second period, was Luke Kunin's first NHL goal, which came on a nice feed from the veteran Staal.

Staal's goal was the 357th of his NHL career. Kunin now trails him by 356, but Staal said he knows which one he'll remember the most.

Video: NYI@MIN: Staal scores on shorthanded breakaway

"Oh, his for sure," Staal said. "The first one you never forget. Kid's played really hard, finished it off with a nice shot, good play and happy to be a part of it. It's always fun to be a part of someone's first goal."

The Islanders have now allowed five short-handed goals this season and have the lowest rated power play in the NHL after going 0-for-5 with the man advantage.

"We never anticipate shorthanded goals," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "[Assistant coach] Bob [Woods] does a really good job of identifying of what they do, and if the players are listening, you can take advantage of what they do, and we did tonight for two goals."

2. Stall mates Kunin and Zack Mitchell each scored their first NHL goals. 

Kunin's was a beauty, capping a 2-on-1 rush with Staal by blasting a one-timer between Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss and the post. In scoring his first goal short-handed, Kunin became the first Wild player in team history to do so.

Video: NYI@MIN: Kunin nets shorthanded goal on odd-man rush

"It felt awesome. It's obviously a dream come true," Kunin said. "You dream about scoring a goal in the NHL and it was awesome to get it and get the win, the first win of the year in front of this awesome crowd. It's definitely a game I'll always remember." 

Mitchell's wasn't as pretty but counted the same on the overhead scoreboard, as the Wild raced into the offensive zone 2-on-2. Daniel Winnik entered the zone and zipped to his left, firing a pass to Mitchell that he brought right to the goal mouth. Greiss stopped the original shot, but Mitchell banked the rebound off his right pad and into the net.

Video: NYI@MIN: Mitchell banks his first goal off Greiss

"I actually thought it was in my feet. I ended up looking up and it was in the back of the net," Mitchell said. "I wouldn't say I envisioned it that way. Scoring around the net, that's where the goals are."

It was the fifth time Wild teammates scored their first NHL goals in the same game and first since Matt Dumba and Justin Fontaine did it against Dallas on Oct. 22, 2013.

"I actually said to [Kunin] before the game, 'Let's both get our first, but I'll let you go first.' It just happened to work out like that," Mitchell said. "Another funny thing was [Matt Cullen] telling me how he scored his first goal in 1997. That was 20 years ago and I get to play with him tonight and score mine."

3. Minnesota went 60 minutes without scoring a goal last time out against the Vancouver Canucks. It took the Wild all of 7 minutes, 26 seconds to put three on the board on Thursday.

The Wild came out flying, officially posting the first 11 shots on goal of the game, and drawing a pair of penalties in the first couple of minutes. Minnesota had 40 seconds of 5-on-3 power-play time, but was unable to take advantage.

Not long after, however, Marcus Foligno scored his second with the Wild, banging home a rebound moments before tumbling to the ice. 

Video: NYI@MIN: Foligno sweeps home his own rebound

Less than two minutes later, Mikael Granlund set up Jason Zucker with a beauty of a pass and a tap-in for a quick 2-nothing lead.

Video: NYI@MIN: Granlund, Zucker combine for slick goal

Just 1:17 after that, Staal scored short-handed to make it 3-0. Staal's shorty was his 18th since entering the NHL in 2003, ranking fifth among all active players. 

"We talked about it quite a bit yesterday and today, and I thought the first 12 minutes or so it was as good a start as you could hope for," Boudreau said. 

After Anthony Beauvillier scored off a tipped shot, Minnesota appeared to make it 4-1 with three minutes left in the first period when Chris Stewart's wraparound effort went into the goal. But the tally was waved off for goaltender interference, as officials ruled Foligno blasted Islanders forward Casey Cizikas into goaltender Thomas Greiss several seconds prior.

Video: Bruce Boudreau Postgame vs Islanders

"[The referee] said that hew as pushed into him, to which I had a reply," Boudreau said coyly. "I just said something to the effect that it was six seconds later. You know, I thought any goalie should be able to recoup in six seconds. We could have had a faceoff in between. But that was my thought anyway on that."


Loose Pucks

• Staal's multi-point game was the 200th in the NHL.

Jonas Brodin also scored a goal for Minnesota, his first of the season.

• Foligno assisted on Brodin's goal, his 18th career multi-point game and first with the Wild.

• Daniel Winnik had an assist on Mitchell's goal, his first helper in a Wild uniform.

• Spurgeon tallied two assists and now has two goals and four assists in 11 career games against the Islanders, the club that drafted him in 2008.

• Attendance: 18,824


He Said It

"We kind of just coasted last game. It was kind of a dud game. It was kind of dead on the bench and kind of a little quiet in the stands as well. We just wanted to come out with a lot of energy and buzz around with it.." -- Wild forward Luke Kunin


They Said It

"We had an opportunity to come in here. ... They're pretty banged up, a lot of their top guys are out, and it's an opportunity for us to take advantage of a team that's just fighting it a little bit. Clearly, they came out and did a much better job tonight." -- Islanders forward Anders Lee


Three Stars

* Eric Staal 

** Jared Spurgeon

*** Luke Kunin

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