Hello there State of Hockey Legion!
The Wild skates for its sixth-straight win tonight, as the club takes on the Dallas Black Holes, also known as the Stars. In doing so, Minnesota will have to earn its first victory in Dallas since March 23, 2003, a 3-2 overtime win. But the Wild is streaking like a shooting, um, comet, so we expect that they’ll take care of business for the first time since Internet Explorer was the reigning king of web browsing services.
Minnesota will go for the ‘W’ with its rock in net, Niklas Backstrom. The goaltender was named the National Hockey League’s Second Star of the Week ending March 24. In three starts, he went 3-0-0 stopping 104 of 107 shots faced for a 1.00 goals against average, a .972 save percentage, including his first shutout of the season against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. So the Wild has that going for it, which is nice.
The club also will have bruising forward Mike Rupp back in the lineup. The winger has missed the last three games with a lower body injury, but is in the lineup tonight. He’ll be on the team’s fourth line with Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell.
Yesterday, the club recalled forward Jake Dowell and goaltender Darcy Kuemper from the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League. Dowell will be a healthy scratch and Kuemper will backup Backstrom. The team also reassigned forward Jason Zucker and netminder Matt Hackett to Houston.
Along with Dowell, defensemen Nate Prosser and Brent Clark will be healthy scratches. Josh Harding is on Injured Reserve as he continues to treat multiple sclerosis.
The Wild is sporting its road whites, while the Stars wears its home blacks with Dallas spelled out across the chest.
As always, follow the game with updates at @mnwildLIVE on Twitter.
Period 1 - MIN 1, DAL 2
The Wild had the first few chances of the opening frame, but it was Dallas that capitalized first. Minnesota answered to even things up, but the Stars scored to take the lead at the end of the period.
Derek Roy picked the puck up behind the Wild's net and skated around the right post. He found Alex Goligoski, who fired a wrist shot off the right post and in.
The Wild answered two minutes later, as Zach Parise showed off his tenacious side and hand-eye coordination with his team-leading 13th goal of the season. Devin Setoguchi drove the puck to the net and tried to jam the puck through traffic on Kari Lehtonen. The Stars' netminder made the save, but Parise was there and started to whack at the rebound. The puck popped up into the air and Parise tapped it down and shoveled it into the net. Matt Cullen picked up the second assist.
The Stars took advantage of a late power play as Jaromir Jagr scored the game's second goal. Dallas had a point shot blocked, but Loui Eriksson found the puck in traffic and found Jagr open on the right side of the net for a tap in. Ray Whitney added a second assist on the play.
The Wild controlled much of the play on the ice that period, but the Stars controlled the scoreboard. Minnesota outshot the Stars, 17-14, and looks to come back in the next period.
Period 2 - MIN 4, DAL 3
The Wild exploded for a three-goal period to take the lead in Dallas for the first time in a while, a long while.
The Captain evened things up, as Mikko Koivu took a Parise pass in the slot, cut to his left around a Stars' defender and fired the puck across his body. The tricky wrister beat Lehtonen through his legs. It was the Wild Captain's eight goal of the season. Clayton Stoner picked up the second assist on the play.
The Stars answered with a couple of quick touch passes and a one-time finish. Trevor Daley crossed the blue line and dropped the puck to Eriksson, who gave it right back and Daley finished with a one-timer. Goligoski added the second assist on the play.
The Wild answered and again it was the team's top line providing the offense. After a Jonas Brodin point shot, a mad scramble in front followed. First Koivu had a chance and then centered the puck. Parise had a Stars player wrapped all over him, but got just enough of a backhand to score his second of the game.
Minneosta finally took the lead on a milestone goal from Matt Cullen. The veteran center scored his 200th career goal after staying with a rebound and fired the puck past the Stars' netminder. Assists on the play went to Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Jared Spurgeon.
This is the first time that the Wild has held a lead in 10-plus in Dallas. Now let's hold on boys. Twenty miles.
Period 3 - MIN 7, DAL 4
An amazing finish to an absolutely crazy game. The Stars tied things up before the Wild scored three-straight goals to lock up its first win in Dallas since 2003.
Philip Larsen evened the game at 4-4 on wrist shot after an odd-man rush. He took a pass from Smith and fired the puck past Backstrom.
The Wild answered on a four-minute penalty, scoring the team's first shorthanded goal of the season. Clayton Stoner made a nice play in the neutral zone to get the puck up to Cal Clutterbuck. The forward came in on the rush and fired a puck that Lehtonen saved but left a rebound in the slot. Kyle Brodziak was crashing the net and he popped it over the top of the netminder for the eventual game winner.
Dany Heatley scored to give the Wild some breathing room with about a minute and a half left in the game. After Clutterbuck was robbed by Lehtonen, Heatley jammed home the rebound for his ninth of the season. Brodziak also assisted on the play.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard iced the game with an empty net goal. Spurgeon picked up the lone assist.
The Wild take over the lead in the Pacific Division and win its sixth-straight game. Minnesota hosts the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday at 8 p.m. State of Hockey Time.