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Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 3, Stars 1

Kuemper's 34 saves lead Minnesota to fourth win over Dallas this season

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

Recap: DAL 1, MIN 3

Kuemper, balanced offense lead Wild past Stars, 3-1

Ryan Suter, Erik Haula and Jared Spurgeon each netted a goal to back Darcy Kuemper's 34 saves as the Wild defeated the Stars, 3-1

  • 02:59 •'s Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 3-1 victory against the Dallas Stars at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Thursday night:

1. In gaining the victory, the Wild (38-13-6) kept perhaps its most remarkable streak of the season intact.

Minnesota hasn't lost consecutive games in regulation in more than three months, and after the loss to Anaheim on Tuesday, that streak was on the line once again against Dallas (22-27-10).

The back-to-back regulation defeats against Buffalo (Nov. 1) and Colorado (Nov. 5) mark the only time this season the Wild has failed to gain at least one point after a loss.

"We take pride in it. That's been key," said Wild forward Erik Haula. "This year, we haven't lost two in a row since November. That's why we're a strong team. We take pride in that. It wasn't pretty again tonight, at certain times. Second period, we played a lot of D-zone. But good teams find a way to win. It feels good."

Video: Locker Room Postgame vs Dallas

Minnesota has now won eight straight games following losses, a big reason why it now leads the Central Division race against the Chicago Blackhawks by seven points. 

Speaking of the division standings, Minnesota has now used up its games-in-hand advantage on the Blackhawks, at least for the moment. Each club has played 57 games and will play against each other again at Xcel Energy Center next Tuesday before the Wild begins a five-day hiatus.

"It's going to be a dogfight," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "They have won five in a row. They are going to be rested. I'm sure they'll play two or three games while we're having a hiatus and it'll look a lot closer than it is [now]."

2. It took almost the entire first period -- literally -- but the Wild got on the board first with a pretty power-play goal by Ryan Suter.

With a shade over three seconds remaining in the period, the teams prepared for a faceoff in the left circle. Mikko Koivu won it cleanly back to Jason Pominville at the left point. Pominville quickly swung the puck to his right, where Suter was waiting to annihilate a one-timer that got by Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen with just 0.8 seconds showing on the game clock. 

"We scored the big goals at opportune times," Boudreau said. "It looked like we were skating in quicksand tonight. We got two more games to the break. Maybe they can get a little bit of rest."

Video: Bruce Boudreau Postgame vs. Dallas

The goal was Suter's eighth of the season, which ties a career high, and fourth on the power play, which establishes a new career best. It's the fourth time he's reached eight goals in a season and third time in the past four seasons.

It also offered sweet redemption for the NHL's best home-ice power play after it went 0-for-5 -- but peppered the net with 13 shots on goal -- in a 1-0 loss to the Ducks on Tuesday.

Video: DAL@MIN: Suter buries Pominville's slick pass for PPG

3. Less than five minutes into the second period, Gopher Nation rejoiced after a tape-to-tape set up from Jordan Schroeder to Haula that gave Minnesota a two-goal lead.

Koivu, who earned his second assist of the night on the play, emerged from the penalty box and demanded the puck. He got it, carried into the offensive zone and dropped it back to Schroeder, who brought the puck behind the goal. 

"I wanted to shoot right away, but there were a couple bodies that went down in front of me, so I waited it out," Schroeder said. 

Video: DAL@MIN: Haula, Schroeder combine for slick goal

Haula, who initially delivered the puck to Koivu, charged to the front of the net and set up camp at the top of Lehtonen's crease, waiting patiently for Schroeder's perfect centering pass from behind the cage. Eventually, it arrived, and Haula one-timed it past the netminder for his 12th goal at 4:51 of the second frame.

"I saw his stick right in front and said, 'Let's give her a try,' and slid it underneath the goalie's stick there," Schroeder said. "That's what happens when you go to the net. He stopped right in front and got the puck. It was a good goal."

"Good players can make that play," Haula said.

Loose Pucks

Jared Spurgeon scored his eighth goal with 6:56 left in regulation. It was Minnesota's first 4-on-4 goal of the season.

Video: DAL@MIN: Spurgeon roofs a backhander to pad lead

• Haula assisted on Spurgeon's goal for his 15th career multi-point game. 

Darcy Kuemper was outstanding, finishing with 34 saves for his eighth victory.

• The Wild finished its season series against the Stars with a 4-0-1 record in five games.

• Minnesota won its 38th game of the season, matching its total from all of last year.

• Koivu now has 598 career points.

• Cody Eakin scored Dallas' only goal at 5:19 of the third period to pull the Stars within one goal.

• Attendance: 19,084

He Said It

"I thought he was by far our best player tonight. He played really good. He finally got rewarded for the effort he's been putting in in practice. To be thrown into games -- coming back off the road and having to play Chicago [Feb. 8] and stuff -- we have the faith in him. That's why we do those things." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau on goaltender Darcy Kuemper

They Said It

"I don't know if I've ever been through a stretch like this. This stretch has been incredible. I feel that first period was puck possession and did a great job all areas, really, and you come away with nothing again. I know there's frustration there. I'm asking them to go out and work, do the job and the bounces aren't going our way." -- Stars coach Lindy Ruff on his team's scoring woes

Three Stars

* Darcy Kuemper

** Erik Haula 

*** Jared Spurgeon

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