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Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 5, Stars 4

Zucker's late goal lifts Minnesota in wild game in Dallas

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Recap: MIN 5, DAL 4

Zucker's 3rd-period goal lifts Wild past Stars, 5-4

The Wild scored four goals in the 1st period and got a late goal from Jason Zucker in the 3rd to hold off the Stars in Dallas, 5-4

  • 04:44 •

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 5-4 victory against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Saturday night:

1. Before some in the crowd had even found their seats, Minnesota (27-9-5) jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Antti Niemi and the Stars.

For the second straight game, the Wild lit the lamp in the first couple minutes of the game, receiving some puck luck 1:19 into the game when a shot by Mikko Koivu was poked into the Dallas net by Stars defenseman Johnny Oduya.

Video: MIN@DAL: Koivu's wrister through traffic deflects in

This time, the Wild was able to build on its good start by following with goals one minute apart, as Eric Staal scored five hole on a 2-on-1 break and Matt Dumba picked a corner.

Video: MIN@DAL: Staal rips a wrister that goes in five-hole

Dumba's goal ended Niemi's night with him having made just one save (although unofficially). 

Video: MIN@DAL: Dumba snipes puck top shelf from the slot

Chris Stewart finished off a 2-on-2 break with Jordan Schroeder later in the period as Minnesota built a four-goal lead in the first 12:45 of the game. 

Video: MIN@DAL: Stewart puts home Schroeder's great pass

When the Wild and Stars play, expect the crazy to happen.

Nine times in franchise history, including Saturday, the Wild has scored four goals in a first period. Three have come against Dallas. 

"That's not how I drew that up at all. I will say I was pretty surprised at the first five minutes," Boudreau said. "We came out with a lot of jump and a lot of energy but you don't expect to score three goals on three shots."

2. In game 41, Jason Zucker quietly set a new career high for points in a season.

Already having shattered his career high in assists (he entered the night with 16), Zucker used a helper on Dumba's goal to reach 27 points in 41 games, surpassing his previous high of 26 set two years ago.

But his biggest play of the game came with less than seven minutes to play in the third period, when the speedy winger forced a defensive zone turnover by the Stars, wheeled around and bolted for the front of the net. Mikael Granlund, who scooped up the loose puck, fired it toward the goal and the puck bounced off a crashing Zucker in front moments before the net came off its moorings. 

Video: MIN@DAL: Zucker deflects Granlund's pass into the net

"I know with [Granlund], he's going to make some plays that I'd never dream of making," Zucker said. "I just went to the net and was hoping he would make a shot or a pass there, and it went in."

"That's what good teams do. They have push back and be defiant," Boudreau said. "They don't allow the crowd or the other team to push to a victory. You can call it luck, but [Zucker] went to the net and did the things you're supposed to do and when you do that, usually you have success."

3. Despite coughing up a four-goal lead in the second and third periods, Minnesota showed enough guts to stick with it and get the two points.

Trailing by four goals, Dallas capitalized on a turnover in the final moments of the first period, scoring off the rush with just 6.5 seconds remaining. 

When Jiri Hudler buried a 2-on-1 feed from Devin Shore 2:20 into the second to make it 4-2, you could feel the momentum shift. Less than four minutes after that, Tyler Seguin buried a rebound chance and it was a one-goal game.

"I think we were alright and then they got a quick one to start the second period and all of a sudden it was 4-2 and the crowd was into it," said Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper. "They got behind their crowd and used that and started getting some good pressure." 

In the third period, the Wild's red-hot power play had extended 5-on-3 time with a chance to finish the Stars off, but couldn't capitalize. After Dallas' 29th-ranked penalty kill did just that, its own power play tied the game on John Klingberg's shot through traffic that deflected off the pants of Ryan Suter and in with less than 10 minutes remaining. 

At that point, it would have been easy for the Wild to pack it in and play for overtime. To its credit, it didn't. 

"We knew they were going to put a push on and I was worried when we didn't score on the 5-on-3 we knew they were going to get a power play and usually what happens is they score on it and that's what happened," Boudreau said. "Our resiliency and our push back after that was really good. In the last five minutes we bearing down, we blocked shots, we did what we had to do."

It took Zucker and Granlund just two minutes, two seconds to respond and give Minnesota the lead for good. 

"It shows the resiliency we have as a group," Zucker said. "Obviously you never want to give up four goals at any point, but we still feel we have the confidence to win those games and I think we showed that tonight."

Video: Jason Zucker Postgame at Dallas

Bonus take: Now with 59 points after its win over Dallas (18-18-8), Minnesota moved into a first-place tie in the Central Division standings with Chicago.

The Wild, with its four games in hand, is technically the team in first place, but we won't have to wait long to settle the dispute. Minnesota flew to Chicago after the game Saturday and will take on the Blackhawks at the United Center on Sunday (6 p.m. CT, NBCSN).

The Wild and Hawks have yet to play a game this season, but Minnesota will try to replicate its success against Chicago last season, when it won all five games against its nearest rival.


Loose Pucks

• Kuemper finished with 34 saves to improve to 5-2-2 in nine starts this season.

• Lehtonen made 26 saves after entering the game for Niemi with 4:01 gone in the first period.

• Klingberg also had two assists to go with his game-tying goal.

• Minnesota now leads the season series against Dallas, having won two of the three matchups. The teams play again at American Airlines Center on Jan. 24.

• Attendance: 18,532


He Said It

"Yeah, I just heard it hit pants and I was looking for it, and then I saw them celebrating. I didn't actually see it. It's almost easier to bounce back from a goal like that, because it's one of those fluky ones, and then at that point it's a tie game so you can't worry about it and stick with it." -- Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper on staying focused after Dallas' fourth and tying goal in the third period


They Said It

"Well, it's really disappointing. Obviously, we didn't get off to a great start and put ourselves into a huge hole, but we worked our way out of it and it made for a real exciting game there. When they got that fifth goal, it was crushing. It was too bad, because we were pretty fired up and the fans were fired up about us coming back. It was really disappointing to lose this game." -- Stars defenseman Dan Hamhuis


Dan's Three Stars

* Jason Zucker

** Mikael Granlund

*** Kari Lehtonen

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