As the puck rolled into the Wild’s zone, goaltender Alex Stalock realized he had two options.
He could leave the puck and let the officials call icing against the Lightning, or he could field it and initiate an attack while Tampa Bay was changing.
“I’d take an odd-man rush over an offensive-zone faceoff any day,” he said.
Not only did the Wild get the look Stalock wanted, but it capitalized on it — sealing a 5-4 overtime win Saturday in front of 19,080 at Xcel Energy Center to sweep a weekend back-to-back, extend its winning streak to three games and embark on a four-day break with a 4-2-2 record.
“It worked out,” Stalock said.
After retrieving the dump-in, Stalock fed the puck off the boards and up the ice to Charlie Coyle. He dished off to Mikael Granlund, and Granlund slung a shot through Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy 3 minutes, 43 seconds into the extra period — his second career overtime goal — to secure a result the Wild looked like it deserved since the second period.
“We know he can handle the puck,” coach Bruce Boudreau said of Stalock, who racked up 27 saves to go along with his second career assist. It was also the first by a goalie in franchise history to set up an overtime goal. “He’s a smart guy, so he sees what’s going on out there. I bow to his thought process.”
Although the team looked rejuvenated by the end, it didn’t have the same jump in the first period and tripped into a two-goal hole.
Lightning winger Ryan Callahan opened the scoring 2:23 after puck drop on a deflection and at 10:50, winger Yanni Gourde buried a rebound.
Only 2:33 later, the Wild cut that deficit in half when Coyle finished off a strong forechecking effort by winger Nino Niederreiter that shuffled the puck to the front of the net.
But that momentum was quickly siphoned on an ensuing Wild penalty, a theme of the night.
Tampa Bay capitalized on the power play off another redirect — this one from winger J.T. Miller with just 4:45 left in the first. It went 1-for-5 with the man advantage, while the Wild was 0-for-2.
“We looked very tired,” Boudreau said.
The Wild, however, dominated in the second and even though the team only scored once — a backhand by winger Marcus Foligno at 3:49 — more offense seemed inevitable.
“I was really happy to contribute offensively,” Foligno said. “From there it felt like we kind of just took over the game.”
Winger Zach Parise pulled the Wild even with the Lightning when he poked in a loose puck in the crease at 10:45 of the third and only 2:28 later, winger Jason Zucker walked into a one-timer for his team-leading fourth goal.
“He made either a great save or he let it in,” Boudreau said of Vasilevskiy, who totaled 29 stops.
The Lightning did tie it at 4, on a shot from defenseman Anton Stralman at 15:02, but the goal was soon overshadowed by Stalock’s playmaking ability.
“He handles it better than most of our forwards, including myself,” Zucker said “It’s unreal watching him. It’s good out there.”
It was a strong finish to a successful week that could have been disastrous considering it was bookended by back-to-backs against tough opponents. Instead, the team banked six of a possible eight points.
“It was a really big effort,” Foligno said. “It just shows the character in this room. We can build a lot of confidence from it.”