The Wild had more work to do to solidify a win since more than two periods remained.
But the team’s performance on a four-minute penalty kill late in the first period Thursday against the Stars was undoubtedly a catalyst for its 5-2 success story at Xcel Energy Center.
“That’s what probably generated a lot of momentum for us,” defenseman Matt Dumba said.
Already trailing the Stars by a goal, the Wild could have tripped into a wider deficit after defenseman Ryan Murphy was dinged with a double-minor for high sticking.
But instead of falling farther behind the Stars, the Wild tied it on a shorthanded goal by winger Mikael Granlund. Then, the penalty killers took over – frustrating the Stars to the point that Dallas was unable to register a shot on goal during the entire advantage.
Overall, the unit killed off all five of Dallas’ power plays and is 13-for-13 over the last four games.
“We’ve mostly gone with four penalty killers in the last few games,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It's Mikko [Koivu] and Granlund and [Joel Eriksson Ek] and [Daniel] Winnik, and they've done a tremendous job. Rather than going with eight different penalty killers, going with four penalty killers I think they get into it more. Our penalty killing the last two games was really good.”
Here’s what else to watch for after the Wild’s win over the Stars.
-The penalty kill was clutch, but the power play also shined with its 2-for-3 showing.
“It was big,” Boudreau said. “We needed it. We were like 1-for-26 going into that, and confidence was probably a season low in the power play. But to get a goal early ... and then to get that next one, even though it was a two-on-one for them, they miss it and we take advantage of it. That’s the way sports is: you take advantage of mistakes. It puts us two points closer.”
-Granlund busted out of a 13-game goalless slump with a dynamic performance.
After securing the timely shorthanded goal, he set up winger Zach Parise’s game-winner and had a hand in the empty-netter by Parise in the final minute.
“We had a four-day break but after that, I felt much better and even if I’ve not been scoring in those games, I’ve felt better,” Granlund said. “Sometimes you’re not scoring. It’s tough in this league, just try to do a lot of other things. There’s a lot of other things to do out there on the ice, so I’m not too worried about it. But like I said, the last few games I felt pretty good.”
-Defenseman Gustav Olofsson left the game in the second period after suffering an upper-body injury. He’s “very questionable,” Boudreau said, to travel to Dallas for the next game against the Stars Saturday.
This was Olofsson’s first time back in the lineup after sitting out the previous four as a healthy scratch.
“It’s a tough break,” Boudreau said.