Kuemper, Niederreiter shine in Wild's shootout win over Los Angeles

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 8, 2014 - 6:41 AM

Niklas Backstrom couldn’t play, so the Wild’s No. 3 goalie stood tall against the Kings’ barrage.

– It was like cloak and dagger Tuesday morning when it became oh-so-apparent that something mysterious was going on with the Wild’s scheduled starter in goal, veteran Niklas Backstrom.

Darcy Kuemper took shots late in the pregame skate by the defensemen — a telltale signal he was starting — and Backstrom spent an extra half-hour working with goalie coach Bob Mason and hockey operations adviser Andrew Brunette.

Cunning coach Mike Yeo wouldn’t divulge what was up, nor would General Manager Chuck Fletcher.

As it turned out, Backstrom has experienced abdominal pain lately and Kuemper indeed got the surprise start against the Los Angeles Kings in the Wild’s first game without captain Mikko Koivu, seventh without Zach Parise, seventh in the past nine games without Josh Harding and second without Jared Spurgeon.

And, the 23-year-old netminder from Saskatoon was sensational in making a career-high 39 saves in a 2-1 shootout victory at the Staples Center.

Nino Niederreiter, who scored the tying goal in the third period, scored his first career shootout goal in Round 4 to lift the Wild to its second road victory in the past 11 games. Kuemper wasn’t beaten by any of Los Angeles’ four shooters.

“We bent a few times, got hemmed in our end, but we didn’t break,’’ Kuemper said.

Added Niederreiter: “It wasn’t the prettiest win, but we held it together. [Kuemper] made some big, huge saves.’’

With virtually the entire first two periods spent in the Wild zone, Kuemper did everything possible to keep the shorthanded squad in a game it had no right to be in.

Through one period, the Wild was being outshot 17-5. Yet, the score was 0-0. Through two periods, the Wild was being outshot 30-9. Yet, the score still was 0-0 entering the second.

Those 30 saves through two periods already set a career high for Kuemper, who made 29 in his first career win last March against Detroit.

On one second-period power play, Kuemper made seven saves, including a robbery at the goalmouth on Justin Williams. A few minutes later, Kuemper stoned Dustin Brown as the Wild played a game of turning the puck over or chipping it out and changing. Keith Ballard, one of the assailants, was benched every second of the third period.

Fifty seconds into third, Torrey Mitchell and Kyle Brodziak couldn’t connect on a rare offensive chance in the Kings zone and it cost Minnesota. Dwight King flew up the ice and handed off to Jeff Carter, who circled the net and centered a cross-slot pass for Jarret Stoll, who buried it.

But 2:35 later, the Wild tied the score when Niederreiter, who was by far the Wild’s most dangerous player all game, scored his ninth goal and third in five games. Mikael Granlund took Ryan Suter’s stretch pass, fed Jason Pominville at the blue line, and Pominville set up Niederreiter in front of Jonathan Quick.

The Wild, one game after beating Washington despite being outshot 30-11, was outshot 40-17.

Backstrom, who missed last year’s playoffs because of a sports hernia, received a cortisone shot Monday to try to settle down what is being called abdominal stiffness. This is obviously a concern with Harding, who has multiple sclerosis, on injured reserve because he’s “not feeling well.”

But on this night, Kuemper looked completely comfortable. Maybe there was good reason.

The youngster was playing behind many of his teammates on the Iowa Wild and some of his teammates on last year’s Houston Aeros.

Ravaged by injury, the Wild dressed eight players 23 or younger, including five 21 or younger.

It was an impressive performance by Kuemper, especially considering he was pulled in his only previous Wild start this season in Toronto and had given up six goals on 16 shots in two appearances. Those efforts had given many fans reason to question his future the past two months.

“This was a chance to redeem myself,’’ Kuemper said. “My game is where I want it to be right now.”

Kuemper, the 2010-11 Canadian Hockey League Goalie of the Year and Western Hockey League Player of the Year and Goalie of the Year, has gotten his game together in Iowa.

Before getting hurt Dec. 20, Kuemper had been one of the three stars in seven of his past eight Iowa starts and saw his save percentage rise to .929, which is second in the American Hockey League.

Tuesday was Kuemper’s first game action in 2 ½ weeks and he showed no signs of rust.

“Kuemps stood on his head,’’ winger Matt Cooke said. “He was the difference.’’

 

  • related content

  • BOXSCORE: Wild 2, Los Angeles 1 (SO)

    Wednesday January 8, 2014

  • Video: Wild Minute: Kuemper saves the Wild in return to nets

    Wednesday January 8, 2014

    Kuemper made a career-high 39 saves in a shootout victory over the Kings

  • Wild notes: Five are named Olympians, but Brodin isn't

    Wednesday January 8, 2014

    Jonas Brodin, 20, got a text a week ago that he will be among the first choices if there’s an injury to Team Sweden's blue line.

  • Postgame: Kuemper "redeems" himself in shootout win

    Wednesday January 8, 2014

    The Wild won its third straight game behind its third goalie's career-high 39 saves

  • Minnesota Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper makes a stick save against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Wild defenseman Keith Ballard, left, deflected a shot by Kings center Trevor Lewis, right, during the second period Tuesday night.

  • Wild defenseman Ryan Suter (20) cleared the puck with Kings center Mike Richards (10) in pursuit during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper made a second-period stick save — one of 39 stops on the night.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 1 Top 7th Inning
Washington 4
Baltimore 5 Top 6th Inning
NY Yankees 1
Kansas City 5 Bottom 6th Inning
Cleveland 0
Seattle 2 Top 6th Inning
Toronto 8
Chicago WSox 0 Top 6th Inning
Detroit 1
Philadelphia 0 Bottom 7th Inning
Miami 2
Pittsburgh 3 Bottom 6th Inning
Atlanta 2
Milwaukee 1 Bottom 6th Inning
Cincinnati 2
Tampa Bay 0 Bottom 6th Inning
Boston 1
Houston 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
Texas 0
St. Louis 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
Chicago Cubs 2
Arizona 0 Top 3rd Inning
Minnesota 3
LA Angels - W. LeBlanc 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
Colorado - J. De La Rosa 9:10 PM
San Diego - R. Erlin
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New England 9/29/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Carolina 0 3rd Prd 17:36
Buffalo 2
Pittsburgh 0 3rd Prd 18:02
Columbus 1
Boston 2 2nd Prd 8:28
Montreal 1
Nashville 2 2nd Prd 8:05
Tampa Bay 1
Philadelphia 0 2nd Prd 7:22
Toronto 1
Detroit 1 1st Prd 10:30
Chicago 0
San Jose 8:00 PM
Vancouver
Arizona 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Vancouver 9:30 PM
San Jose
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close