The Wild finished the road trip with a pair of disappointing losses - one in overtime, but played a complete game before holding off the Lightning in the final minutes. Over their last six games, including Tuesday, the Wild have faced five of the top six teams in their respective conferences.
“It was a playoff atmosphere,” Jared Spurgeon said. “We know they’ve (the Lightning) been rolling. It was a big win for us.”
Spurgeon returned after missing 14 games with a foot injury and produced with two primary assists, including a pretty pass across the top of the crease to Dany Heatley. Heatley chipped the pass over Ben Bishop’s leg. The goal gave the Wild some separation early in the third period.
“I saw (Heatley) there (in front of the net),” Spurgeon said. “I didn’t get it over there hard enough, but he made a great play to get around the defenseman.”
Spurgeon assisted the game’s first goal when Nino Niederreiter knocked his rebound into the open net behind Bishop just nine seconds into the game’s first power play.
The Lightning (32-19-5) avoided getting shutout when Valtteri Filppula re-directed a Martin St. Louis shot past Darcy Kuemper with six minutes and seven seconds remaining in the game.
The Lightning nearly tied the game in the final minute, but Tyler Johnson rang a shot off the post behind Kuemper.
Kuemper has had a couple rough games in his two starts allowing four goals in each game, including getting pulled in Colorado. He held one of the top offensive teams in the league to nearly two goals below their season average.
“I’ve been in this situation before at different levels,” he said about Mike Yeo’s comments about this being his first big growing moment in the NHL. “You just have to treat it the same way and that’s what I tried to do. Just stick to the fundamentals and things will turn around.”
The Wild played with five defensemen for all but 55 seconds of the game. Marco Scandella left the game after suffering an injury to his right leg. After dumping the puck behind the Lightning net, he got tangled up with a Lightning forward and fell awkwardly. Yeo said after the game that an update would come at tomorrow’s practice. Yeo also said he hopes it is not a long-term injury and it is doubtful he will play Thursday.
The Wild (30-21-7) won at home for the 20th time this season, which is second in the league behind the Anaheim Ducks.
The Wild return to action Thursday against the Nashville Predators at the Xcel Energy Center.
No. 3 - Nino Niederreiter. The Wild forward scored a goal.
No. 2 - Darcy Kuemper. The Wild goaltender stopped 34 shots.
No. 1 - Jared Spurgeon. The Wild defenseman recorded two assists.
Tampa Bay……0 0 1 - 1
Minnesota.……1 0 1 - 2
First Period - 1, Minnesota, Niederreiter 10 (Spurgeon, Zucker), 16:04 (pp). Penalties - Gudas, TBL (boarding), 15:55; Veilleux, MIN (cross checking), 18:27.
Second Period - None. Penalties - Johnson, TBL (hooking), 12:51; Crombeen, TBL (roughing), 16:58; Zucker, MIN (roughing), 16:58.
Third Period - 2, Minnesota, Healtey 11 (Spurgeon), :34. 3, Tampa Bay, Filppula 20 (St. Louis, Gudas), 15:53. Penalties - Cooke, MIN (tripping), 4:14.
Shots on goal - Tampa Bay 11-11-13 35. Minnesota 8-14-4 26.
Goalies - Tampa Bay, Bishop (24-26). Minnesota, Kuemper (34-35). Referees - Mike Leggo, Ian Walsh. Linesmen - Brian Mach, Brian Murphy.