Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 4-3 loss against the New Jersey Devils at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Tuesday night:
1. Jared Spurgeon scored what could go down as one of the goals of the year.
The Wild (28-10-5) had a dominating first period, but had nothing to show for it until Spurgeon's power-play tally with just over two minutes remaining.
Moments after being flattened into the end wall by New Jersey's Devante Smith-Pelly, giving the Wild the first power play of the game, Spurgeon worked his way from the left point toward the bottom of the circle.
Mikko Koivu controlled the puck at the top of the right circle, flicking the puck toward the goal. On the way, it was re-directed by Nino Niederreiter, forcing Cory Schneider to make an awkward save. The puck popped in the air in front of Spurgeon, who stopped the puck with his left hand, then took a hack it in mid air, putting it past Schneider for the goal.
Video: NJD@MIN: Spurgeon gloves down puck and bats it home
"Nino made a nice tip, and [Schneider] made a nice save," Spurgeon said. "It just came my way and I just whacked at it and it went in."
Video: Jared Spurgeon Postgame vs. New Jersey
The incredible display of hand-eye coordination gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead and was Spurgeon's fifth goal in the past 12 games.
Minnesota has now converted on at least one power play chance in 12 of the past 15 games.
Unfortunately for the Wild, it was unable to get more than one goal in a period that ended up being its best one of the night.
"That's what usually happens if you don't capitalize on the opportunities when you out play a team in a period," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "You are supposed to do that. I blame myself for putting some of the wrong guys out and the wrong time. We will watch some video tomorrow. Hopefully we learn from it."
2. Jason Zucker gave himself a belated birthday present by scoring on a pretty backhander midway through the second period.
After an outstanding outlet pass by Mikael Granlund sprung Zucker on his offhand down the right-wing boards, the now 25-year-old winger flew past two Devils and flipped a backhand shot inside the far post for his 12th goal of the season.
Granlund now has an assist in four straight games, with five helpers over that span. Koivu, who earned the second assist on Spurgeon's goal, also had an assist on Zucker's tally for his 78th career multi-assist game.
Koivu is averaging a point per game in the past 26 games dating back to Nov. 21 (11-15=26).
3. Erik Haula snapped an eight-game goal drought in the third period.
The tally, his seventh, gave the Wild a brief 3-2 lead in the third period before New Jersey (19-18-9) netted two late to take home the win. Haula's goal was also the second of the night knocked out of midair and into the back of the net.
With oodles of traffic in front of Schneider, Spurgeon's shot from the left point hit Coyle in front of the goal, allowing Haula to take a backhanded whack at the puck. Schneider, not expecting the quick shot, was helpless in his crease.
Spurgeon earned an assist for his 22nd multi-point game in the NHL.
Just 22 seconds after Haula's goal, Kyle Palmieri tied the game at 3-3 before Beau Bennett's winner with 2:17 remaining.
"It's frustrating because we threw it away," said Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk. "We haven't done that. We talked about this is an important game for us. Tie game with two minutes left, that's where we're usually solid."
Video: Devan Dubnyk Postgame vs. New Jersey
• Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin left the game in the second period with a broken finger. Boudreau wasn't sure of specific details but said his status would be updated following Wednesday's practice.
• Dubnyk finished with 22 saves.
• Schneider had 32 saves.
• Twelve different Devils tallied a point.
• The loss was Minnesota's first in regulation since Dec. 31.
• Attendance: 19,051
He Said It
"They kept pushing, and I'm sure they believed they were going to tie it up the way came out in the third period. We just did some uncharacteristically dumb things on all their goals. You can call it what you want, but they earned it, and we didn't." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau
They Said It
"We knew coming in tonight it was going to be a difficult game, and one of the things we talked about was having some staying power whether we were up or down. Our goal coming into the game was to be more competitive in these types of games where you're playing a team like the Wild that have had lots of success. They're a top-tier team in the league at this point and we hadn't been competitive. We stayed competitive in that situation, and fortunately we were able to get ourselves some goals and get back in the game." -- Devils coach John Hynes
* Kyle Palmieri
** Jared Spurgeon
*** Jason Zucker