The Minnesota Wild kept the points coming with a pair of power-play goals in three chances, plus a shorthanded goal in a 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday in St. Paul.
Zach Parise scored a pair of goals, while defenseman Matt Dumba had a goal and three assists for a career-high four-point game.
“At this stage of the year, it’s huge,” said Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau.
Despite the solid, game-ending numbers for the Wild (43-24-10), they actually got off to a slow start in front of the home fans. During an in-game interview with NBCSN, Boudreau said his team didn’t have an answer for the Stars’ top line. That would be with Jamie Benn, who scored his 29th goal of the season just 2:51 into the game for a 1-0 Stars lead.
With about four minutes left in the period, Mikael Granlund sparked the club and broke out of his 13-game goalless drought at the same time. After Ryan Murphy went to the box for a bloody high-sticking penalty, the Wild had a four-minute penalty kill in front of them.
No matter. Granlund got the puck and skated into the Dallas zone with Mikko Koivu in tow for a 2-on-1 opportunity. With enough room to shoot, Granlund rifled a shot past the goaltender to tie the game.
“It wasn’t a really good start for us… that goal gave us some momentum,” Granlund said.
It was the 10th shorthanded goal allowed by Dallas this season, ranking in the bottom half of the league in this category.
Ryan Suter’s lone assist on Granlund’s goal brings the defenseman’s helper tally to 44 for the season. In the process, it breaks his previous career-high and Wild franchise record for most assists in a season by a Wild defenseman.
He also had 43 assists in 82 games during the 2015-16 season.
The Wild’s penalty kill went 4 for 4 for the second game in a row. Their penalty kill is 12 for 12 in their past four games. As for the power play, the Wild had gone 0 for 9 in their past four games before the pair of extra-attacker goals against Dallas.
Dumba scored his goal — the 12th of the season — with 12:41 to go in the second period for a 2-1 Wild lead. It came on the power play with his absolute cannon of a shot from the top of the circles. It’s turning into one of his trademarks, really. Suter reached 45 assists with the primary helper.
Just 59 seconds later, Granlund worked his passing magic again, feeding the puck perfectly toward the crease and a streaking Parise at the goalmouth. All he had to do was have his stick on the ice with 8:18 left in the second period for the 3-1 lead. Dumba had the second assist.
Stars forward Devin Shore made it a one-goal game against with a redirection goal after that. But Jason Zucker scored No. 31 on the season on the power play with just 10 seconds left in the second to complete a three-goal middle frame for the Wild.
Dumba made a nifty pass at the blue line to keep the play onside and feed Eric Staal on the rush, then Staal sent the puck cross-ice to Zucker for the score and a 4-2 lead.
Parise’s second of the game and 12th of the season came with an empty net and 18 seconds left in regulation. The victory snapped a modest two-game losing streak, though neither was in regulation. The last time the Wild lost in a 60-minute game? March 13 at home against Colorado in a 5-1 decision.
They have points in each of their past seven games (4-0-3).
The loss for the Stars (39-31-8) all but ended their postseason hopes, even if they haven’t been mathematically eliminated. They’ve now lost nine of their past 10 games for a March swoon. In a show of frustration, Tyler Seguin broke his stick across the empty-net post after Parise’s final goal.
- Devan Dubnyk (33-14-7) with 29 saves on 31 shots. Kari Lehtonen (13-14-3) with 17 saves on 21 shots.
- The Wild, still solid on home ice, improved to 26-6-8 at Xcel Energy Center.
- New talent Jordan Greenway nearly had his first NHL goal, but he hit the post in the third period. He registered one takeaway in his 9:58 of ice time, just a few seconds less than he saw in his NHL debut against Nashville.
- Wild defenseman Gustav Olofsson left the game with an upper-body injury. He’s very questionable to make the road trip, Boudreau said after the game.
- Parise has a five-game point streak going with four goals and two assists in that span.
- The Wild have points in 15 of the past 18 games with the Stars since the start of 2014-15. They also have points in five straight (4-0-1) games against Dallas in St. Paul.
- Attendance: 19,350, the largest crowd of the season at Xcel Energy Center.
It’s crunch time as the Wild have just five games left on the regular-season schedule. They’ll complete the home-and-home set Saturday night with a trip to Dallas. The Stars will celebrate 25 years of Dallas Stars hockey, a mark that will probably bring up the usual bittersweet feelings for Minnesota hockey fans.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game for us in Dallas,” Parise said. “But we got the first one… we did pretty well.”