Saturday, March 30, 2013
Dallas Stars 5, Minnesota Wild 3
Stars snap Wild's seven-game win streak with impressive home win.
DALLAS The Dallas Stars put an end to Minnesota's seven-game winning streak Friday night at the American Airlines Center, defeating the Wild 5-3 on the strength of their powerplay. The win was their third in their last four games and improved Dallas to 16-14-3, just one point behind the St. Louis Blues for the eight and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Wild fell to 20-11-2 on the year, two points behind the Vancouver Canucks for first place in the Northwest Division.
Dallas' dormant powerplay finally woke up against one of the strongest penalty killing teams in the NHL, scoring three times. Their first of three came just 4:14 into the game, when Jamie Benn won a faceoff and Ray Whitney --who had whiffed on an wide-open net a few seconds earlier-- rifled it in for his sixth goal of the season and an early 1-0 lead.
Dallas doubled that just three minutes later when Aaron Rome shot the puck in from the blue line. It deflected of Reilly Smith to Wild goalie Matt Hackett, but Hackett couldn't get to the rebound before Tomas Vincour rammed it in for his second of the season.
The Wild clawed back, however, with a pair of late-period goals. The first came at 18:48 of the first period when Alex Goligoski's ill-advised pass in his own zone was intercepted by the Wild's Matt Cullen at the boards. Cullen skated around behind the net before dishing it to Stars-killer Devon Setoguchi, who shot it past Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen for his 12th of the season and a 2-1 game.
The Wild tied it up at 15:16 of the second on the powerplay, when Jared Sprugeon got to a big rebound and chipped it in for his fifth of the year and a 2-2 tie.
Not wanting to blow yet another two-goal lead, Dallas struck back, with help from undisciplined play from the Wild. After several point-blank chances from Jamie Benn and Eric Nystrom in the dying seconds of the second period led to nothing, Erik Cole finally put the Stars ahead for good a minute into the third when he collected his own rebound and stuffed it in for a 3-2 lead.
After Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter both took minor penalties at the 2:00 mark, Dallas spent just ten seconds on the ensuing 5-on-3 before scoring. Jaromir Jagr skated unopposed in the middle of the ice before passing to Whitney on the side of the net. Whitney held the puck for a split second to get the Wild defender down on the ice before hitting a wide-open Jamie Benn on the other side. Benn one-timed it in for his first goal in 13 games, and Jagr's 1000th career assist. Jagr is just the 12th player in NHL history to reach that milestone, and the first European.
Dallas got an insurance goal and their third powerplay goal of the night at 12:40 of the third, when Derek Roy's backhand shot rebounded to defenseman Trevor Daley. Daley poked at it but it was stopped by Hackett, but the puck trickled to Cody Eakin who pushed it in for his sixth of the season and a 5-2 lead.
Minnesota scored once more in garbage time with a minute left when Torrey Mitchell backhanded a puck past Lehtonen for his fourth of the season.
Lehtonen was excellent when he had to be, stopping 30 of 33 shots in the win. Hackett, a recent AHL call-up, seemed overwhelmed at times and gave up far too many rebound chances, making 28 saves on 33 shots.
Dallas' next game is Sunday afternoon at the AAC, against the 19-12-2 Los Angeles Kings.