With the postseason vastly approaching and the two teams chasing them in the standings closing in, the Minnesota Wild needed to turn around a three-game losing (two in overtime). They did so Thursday with a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers at the Xcel Energy Center.
Even with the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes eating away at the lead the Wild had for the top wild card spot and losing three straight games, the team did not feel there was pressure to turn it around inside the locker room.
“The media is creating that to be honest,” Koivu said. “There’s no excuses. (The Oilers) came back and tied the game and we lost in a shootout. If we win in the shootout, I don’t think we are talking about that right now.”
Zach Parise broke a 1-1 tie one minute and three seconds into the third period for the eventual game-winning goal.
Parise got the Wild the win, along with his line mates Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund, with a gritty multiple effort goal. The trio drove the net and took several whacks - officially four shots on goal - before Parise found a little room under Cam Talbot.
“(Talbot) made a couple good saves,” Parise said. “(Pominville) had about six whacks at it. It was a really smart play by Granlund to attack the net and for him to recognize he had room. That’s what started the play. At that point of the game, I think we needed to get some pucks into the crease there and get an ugly one. Luckily, it went in.”
The real story though was the play of Darcy Kuemper. The Wild’s rookie goaltender came up big, including a breakaway stop and a scrum in the crease in the final seconds.
“When that whistle went, I looked and saw there was only 0.4 seconds left, I had no idea where the clock was at,” Kuemper said about facing a barrage of shots in the final minute of the game. “You’re just trying to do your job and keep (the puck) out (of the net).”
The Wild (35-22-9) got on the board at the 13:08 mark of the opening period when Nino Niederreiter knocked a loose puck past Talbot.
The Rangers (35-28-4) evened the score with a power play goal by Derek Stepan at the 3:19 mark of the second period. Stepan fired a shot through a screen and cleanly past Kuemper.
The Wild return to action Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Xcel Energy Center.
No. 3 - Derek Stepan. The Rangers forward scored a goal.
No. 2 - Zach Parise. The wild forward scored a goal.
No. 1 - Darcy Kuemper. The Wild goaltender stopped 29 shots.
New York……0 1 0 - 1
Minnesota……1 0 1 - 2
First Period - 1, Minnesota, Niederreiter 12 (Brodziak), 13:08.. Penalties - Suter, MIN (slashing), 4:29; Stepan, NYR (hooking), 10:39; Pouliot, NYR (hooking), 15:53.
Second Period - 2, New York, Stepan 12 (McDonagh, Nash), 3:19 (pp). Penalties - Brodziak, MIN (high sticking), 1:37; Hagelin, NYR (tripping), 14:53.
Third Period - 3, Minnesota, Parise 23 (Pominville, Granlund), 1:03. Penalties - Brodziak, MIN (delay of game-puck over glass), 16:40.
Shots on goal - New York 7-7-16 30. Minnesota 9-9-8 26.
Goalies - New York, Talbot (24-26). Minnesota, Kuemper (29-30). Referees - Brad Meier, Don VanMassenhoven. Linesmen - Brad Lazarowich, Derek Amell.