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Niederreiter spells relief G-O-A-L in win over Kings

Wild winger snaps 27-game goal drought Thursday night in Los Angeles

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe / Wild.com

LOS ANGELES -- You could see the relief on Nino Niederreiter's face. 

A little more than 14 minutes into the Wild's game against the Los Angeles Kings, Niederreiter snapped one of the most frustrating goal droughts of his NHL career. 

It came so often like they do for goal scorers; it wasn't a bar-down beauty or a nifty breakaway... but rather a crash-the-net, greasy one off a nice backhand pass from Zach Parise.

But for a man locked in a 27-game goal drought, any goal is a pretty one.

Niederreiter's goal jumpstarted the Wild in a 3-1 win at STAPLES Center on Thursday night. 

Video: MIN@LAK: Niederreiter pots Parise's pass for PPG

In a night where Parise would score his 700th NHL point and Niederreiter snapped his lengthy goalless streak, it was the look on Niederreiter's face that had his teammates howling. 

"He looked up to the heavens. It was great," Parise said. "We were all happy for him, the team, the bench. We've all been there. Every scorer's been there. It's a tough time. I'm happy for him that he got it over with, and he can move on."

Niederreiter certainly enjoyed the moment. At first, he wasn't sure the moment had actually happened. Niederreiter crashed the front of the crease and the puck came from Parise, deflecting through Jack Campbell's five-hole. 

But the Swiss winger wasn't certain his hex had been exorcised until he saw Parise raise his arms in the air and reach out for his linemate for a big squeeze.

"It was just a relief, waiting, I kind of totally forgot how to score goals so I finally got a way to get a goal in," Niederreiter said. "It definitely felt like a great relief but it also makes it more special when you find a way to win the hockey game."

Did Niederreiter say thanks to Parise for the pretty pass? 

"I think he thanked me with his eyes," Parise said with a smile. "You could see the relief. He got some color back in his face. It was great."

Mikko Koivu, who earned the second assist on the goal, said Niederreiter was hooting and hollering all the way to the bench for his fly-by, where every single one of his teammates was there to greet him with a hoot and a holler of their own.

Tweet from @mnwild: Bruce Boudreau on Nino's goal, Dubnyk's play and much more after #mnwild's win over LA. pic.twitter.com/WkvPrzok1b

"It's the sign of a close team when everybody on the bench was screaming his name and was more happy for him than they were for an actual goal," Boudreau said. "Like I mean, every chance he had, they were like, 'Ohh." Now it's time to move on from that."

The goal awakened a Wild team that Boudreau said didn't seem "lively." Los Angeles built a 7-2 edge on the shot chart and scored the first goal on a laser by defenseman Jake Muzzin 4:42 into the contest.

Minnesota slumbered for a few more minutes but got some jump when it earned the game's first power play. 

Just under a minute into the man advantage, Niederreiter had his arms raised and the Wild had its watershed moment.

Minnesota appeared to be the superior team the rest of the way.

"I thought the first 10 minutes we were scrambling and letting them play and we were watching them and then I thought the last 50 minutes we were really good," Boudreau said. "Once we got the goal all of a sudden everything picked up for us."

Now the hope is that Niederreiter, with the monkey squarely off his back, can parlay that into more offense. While the goal wasn't pretty, it came from the same zip code that he seems to have success from when he's doing well.

"I think that's where my bread and butter is, in front of the net," Niederreiter said. "I just gotta get there and hopefully pucks are starting to find me more and more and ... try to get my shot off when I can and just go to the net."


Related:

Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 3, Kings 1

Video: Parise, Dubnyk lead Wild to 3-1 victory against Kings

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