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  • Wild 3, Stars 2: Joel Eriksson Ek scores late goal to give Minnesota crucial road win


    The Minnesota Wild played the Dallas Stars on Friday night in Dallas, and Minnesota was hoping for a repeat of the teams’ two previous matchups. The last time these two teams met, the Wild beat the Stars 7-0 on Hockey Day Minnesota. Before that, the Wild played the Stars on December 1 and won 3-2 in a shootout. The winning shootout goal came from Mikko Koivu, who was coincidentally was playing in his 1,000th career game that night. With Zach Parise playing in his own 1,000th game Friday night, the Wild would not have minded if history repeated itself.

    The early part of the first period got off to a fairly slow start. Devan Dubnyk made multiple nice saves, and the Wild killed off an early Luke Kunin penalty. The final minutes of the first period were much more eventful, though. First, the refs called Jared Spurgeon for hook on what looked like a pretty clear dive by Corey Perry. Then, Jonas Brodin got called for high-sticking, and Joe Pavelski scored on the delayed penalty. Bruce Boudreau was not thrilled that the Stars scored after the questionable call.

    As you can see in this picture from Wild team reporter Dan Myers, Perry clearly had a hold on Spurgeon’s stick. The refs took the bait anyway.

    Brodin was given a double minor, but Dallas took a penalty about 45 seconds later, canceling out much of the Brodin penalty. The score remained 1-0 at the end of the first period. It was a strong start for Dubnyk, who stopped 15 of 16 Dallas shots.

    The second period started the same way the first ended. Joel Eriksson Ek took a penalty 50 seconds into the period, putting the Stars back on the power play. Denis Gurianov scored just as the penalty expired to make it 2-0. The Wild quickly got a power play opportunity of their own, but were unable to convert. A few minutes later, the Wild got on the board as Eriksson Ek managed to push a puck past Ben Bishop.

    A few minutes later, Ryan Donato tied the game. He skated around the back of the net, turned and just fired the puck on net. It worked, as he beat Bishop and made the game 2-2.

    The Wild got a power play opportunity immediately after the Donato goal, but were unable to convert.

    The remainder of the period was uneventful aside from the very end. As time in the second expired, Jordan Greenway and Corey Perry got into it.

    The third period started at 4-on-4 after Greenway and Perry were given penalties for roughing. The first half of the third period was not very active. The Wild managed just one shot in the first 10 minutes, and the Stars were not much better with just three. The Wild’s best scoring chance came off a mistake by Bishop.

    Kevin Fiala took a penalty with about six minutes to go, giving the Stars a late power play opportunity to take the lead. It required a big save by Dubnyk, but they successfully killed off the penalty.

    With less than a minute to go, there was an extended battle for the puck behind the Stars net. Greenway came away with the puck and attempted a wraparound shot. Bishop knocked the puck away, and it went to Jonas Brodin. He put a shot on net, and the rebound went to Eriksson Ek. He attempted his own wraparound and managed to get the puck into the back of the net. With just 25.8 seconds to go, the Wild were up 3-2, and they held onto that lead to secure their third straight win.

    Answers to our Burning Questions

    1. How will Zach Parise perform in his 1,000th game?

    Parise unfortunately did not have a repeat of Mikko Koivu’s 1,000th game performance. His only stat of the night was one shot on goal. Parise is probably not complaining, though, as his teammates were able to do enough to get the win for him on his big night.

    Credit to Stars fans, too. They did give Parise a nice ovation when it was announced in the arena that he was playing in game No. 1,000.

    2. How will Devan Dubnyk perform?

    Dubnyk actually did pretty well tonight. Dubnyk has had good and moments this season, but this was certainly one of the better ones. He allowed two goals on 33 shots and made plenty of good saves throughout the game. He was the reason the Wild were able to stay in the game.

    3. Can the power play keep the streak alive?

    No. The Wild were 0-for-2 on the power play. They were unfortunately unable to keep their streak of converting at least once going. Special teams in general were not bad, though. They kept the Stars to 1-for-6 on their power play opportunities (though one of their goals came just seconds after the power play expired). Obviously it is not great that they took six penalties, but the penalty kill could’ve been worse.

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