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Staal's 1,000th NHL point is a milestone to celebrate

Wild forward became just the 89th player in NHL history to reach the number

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

CHICAGO -- Any time you're the 89th guy to do anything in a league that is 102 years old, you're doing something right.

Wild forward Eric Staal became just the 89th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 points when he scored a first-period power-play goal in a 5-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night at United Center.

"It's difficult sometimes reflecting in the middle of a season and a career. But four numbers is a lot of numbers and I'm obviously proud of that," Staal said. "I couldn't have gotten to this number without a lot of help, so many people and I think that's what you reflect on a lot in this kind of moment. 

"And it would have been nicer in a win, but hopefully a few more left ahead of me for the next couple years but it's nice to get that one out of the way."

The result of the game spoiled what is otherwise an amazing accomplishment for one of the team's most beloved and respected players.

"Last year, maybe two years ago, I told him he's gonna be a Hall of Famer," said Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. "This just solidifies that."

Suter got the primary assist on Staal's goal Sunday, a perfectly feathered pass along the ice for Staal to wind up and one-time under the crossbar for his 12th of the season.

Video: MIN@CHI: Staal buries one-timer to reach milestone

The goal, which came on the power play, also snapped a streak of 18 straight man advantages without scoring. It got Minnesota on the board in a game it was trailing 2-0 and badly needed a jolt. 

"We wanted to get that momentum back," Staal said. "And obviously, on the power play, has been struggling a little bit here and we wanted to get one. That was a great pass."

That pass was something Suter, who has become especially tight with Staal since the latter signed here four summers ago, said he badly wanted.

Tweet from @mnwild: ���It's 3-3 and you just want that bounce to go your way and tonight it didn't.��� - Staal📹 Hear from Suter, Staal and Fiala after tonight���s game against the Blackhawks.#MINvsCHI

"It worked out perfect that I was able to pass it to him," Suter said. "It couldn't happen to a better person. He is a class act on and off the ice, just a great person, a great parent and a great teammate. We're all really happy for him."

Kevin Fiala scored a pair of goals for Minnesota and nearly capped his first hat trick with the Wild on more than one occasion late in the game. 

Fiala has been outstanding since starting the season with just one assist in Minnesota's first eight games. 

He scored his first goal of the year on Nov. 2 against St. Louis and hasn't slowed down, tallying eight goals and 18 points in his past 21 games, a pace that would shatter his previous career highs of 23 goals and 48 points in 80 games with Nashville in 2017-18.

Fiala, who is 23 years old, played in his 252nd NHL game on Sunday, scoring his 122nd and 123rd career points. While he'd love to one day reach the heights of Staal, Fiala just shook his head in amazement when thinking about 1,000 career points.

"You talk about trying to get to 1,000 games... and he has 1,000 points," Fiala said. "It's unbelievable. I've been in the League a few years now and it's a tough one to play in. And he's got 1,000 points? It's just incredible."

Tweet from @mnwild: 📹 Hear from Bruce Boudreau after tonight���s game against the Blackhawks.#MINvsCHI

Few have been more appreciative of Staal's work with the Wild than coach Bruce Boudreau.

"A thousand points in any league, I know how tough it is, but without fanfare, just goes out and does it and does it and does it," Boudreau said. "He's getting points at a rate now that probably bely his age a little bit. But it's something we need from him."

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