The Minnesota Wild look to shake off an overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday night by welcoming the Tampa Bay Lighting into St. Paul tonight. The Lightning brought in a 2 game winning streak they looked to extend against the best team in the Western Conference. It would take a shootout to decide the winner as the game was somewhat of a offensive struggle for both squads who traded chances but ran into walls known as Devan Dubnyk and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The first period showed a smattering of opportunities, with the Wild's best chances coming when the Zach Parise, Erik Haula, and Jason Pominville line out on the ice. They had a few shots early in the frame but were unable to convert. Both teams traded off some time with the puck, but aside from Jonathan Drouin dangling around the Wild's defensive zone a bit there wasn't much to get excited about.
Matt Dumba took a hard hit from Ondrej Palat midway through the period and went into the boards awkwardly. He would make his way down the tunnel for a bit but did re-emerge in the period. Marco Scandella didn't take kindly to Brian Boyle running his mouth at the kaptain, so Scandella and Boyle would drop the gloves in an epic hugging match for the ages.
We'd get some scoring started in the 2nd period, but not without a lot of the teams going back and forth trading what one might call chances, although none were very good. The Haula line would once again get the better chances early in the period but seem to lose their edge as the period moved on.
At the 12:42 mark of the period Boyle would visit the penalty box for his 2nd time for tripping Jared Spurgeon and the Wild would capitalize. Pominville would feed the puck from the blue line to Mikael Granlund in the right circle. Granlund fired the puck on goal and Vasilevskiy who had a great game tonight, kicked the rebound out front. Nino Niederreiter would pounce, flinging a back-hander between Vasilevskiy's legs and putting the Wild up 1-0.
Brayden Point would tie it up for the Lightning 3 minutes later when he deflected a Jason Garrison shot between the wickets of Dubnyk. The period would end in a tie but after Parise drove the net on a late short-handed breakaway the Wild and Lightning would start the 3rd period at 4 on 4 for 29 seconds before the Wild took over on a power play.
The 3rd period was much like the 1st, no goals, but teams trading chances. The Wild seemed pretty content to just try and score on the rush and there was very little extended zone time. Any longer periods of time the Wild did have in the offensive zone they seemed to be scrambling to try and force something that wasn't there.
Fortunately the Lightning, who had more extended pressure in the period, couldn't find a way to solve Dubnyk. The game would string along into OT and eventually a shootout. Because nobody likes scoring goals, only the kaptain Mikko Koivu would notch one in the shootout giving the Wild the victory.
It was a 3-point game, but against an Eastern Conference foe it doesn't hurt the Wild in the standings at all. Devan Dubnyk got his 30th win on the season which leads the league. The Wild welcome the Detroit Red Wings into town on Sunday, and I think we're all looking forward to the return of Steve Ott to the X.