Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 3-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Thursday night:
1. There's something about the Lightning that brings out the best in the Wild.
We talked about it with players this morning, and whether its Tampa Bay's pedigree or its star power, Minnesota seems to put together quality efforts every time it sees that bolt on the opposing sweater.
Last month, Minnesota won 5-4 in Tampa in one of the most entertaining games of the season, but it probably wasn't a recipe the Wild wanted to try and duplicate.
Entering the game on a four-game losing streak but kicking off a four-game homestand ahead of the All-Star break, the Wild needed a good effort against the red-hot Lightning to try and get itself back into the mix in the Western Conference.
Minnesota did just that, following a template that has been good for the club this season: Play from in front, add onto its lead and limit grade-A chances the other way by possessing the puck.
Check. Check. And check.
Zach Parise gave the Wild a 1-0 lead 14:17 into the game, and after Tampa Bay tied things up 7:42 into the second, the Wild scored five minutes later, then again two minutes after that to bring a multi-goal lead into the final frame.
Video: TBL@MIN: Eriksson Ek fires quick blast from the slot
The Lightning, which entered the game 10th in the NHL averaging 32.5 shots on goal per game, went to the third period with just 12 on their ledger.
It's hard to score goals when the opponent has the puck. That's what the Wild's defensive mindset was on Thursday and it worked to a T.
2. It's amazing what a little confidence can do.
It wasn't long ago ... before the game in Pittsburgh, that Parise was going through a goal drought. He ended that 10-game skid in a loss against the Penguins, but picked up right where he left off in getting the Wild on the board early.
Credit Eric Staal for setting up the play with a pretty behind-the-back feed across the crease to Parise, who had a gaping net to put the pick into.
Video: TBL@MIN: Parise finishes Staal's feed for PPG
The goal moved Parise ahead of Staal and into the team lead with 17 goals on the season.
3. Alex Stalock was good.
While Tampa Bay lacked volume early on, the Lightning did have a couple of grade-A chances. Nikita Kucherov, who scored twice in the game, was denied on a breakaway early in the second period. In the third, he made back-to-back stops, including one heck of a robbery on Kevin Shattenkirk to preserve the two-goal lead for the moment.
Video: TBL@MIN: Suter fires shot that finds the way home
Other than the bog saves, he was generally just solid. He didn't give up many rebounds, he played and moved the puck cleanly and he didn't have a prayer on either of Tampa's goals.
It was the second consecutive quality outing from Stalock, who allowed just two goals in a losing effort last week in Calgary.
Stalock finished the night with 18 saves.