ANAHEIM, Calif. – By making his eighth successive start Tuesday night against the Anaheim Ducks, goalie Darcy Kuemper returned to the area where he began that streak.
On Jan. 7, Kuemper began that stretch by making 39 saves in a 2-1 victory over the Kings in Los Angeles.
“He played unbelievable,” Wild winger Jason Pominville said. “He basically stole us a game.”
On Tuesday, he didn’t steal the game for the Wild in a 4-2 victory over Anaheim, but he did make 31 saves, including 17 in the third period.
Since becoming the Wild’s starting goalie, Kuemper has compiled a 6-2-1 record. He entered Tuesday with a 1.83 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage.
“What I’ve liked is that he’s got confidence coming out against these teams,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said before the game. “For a goalie, that’s important.
“You’ve got to be challenging. You’ve got to be aggressive. You’ve got to be clear in the head where you’re making quick and good reads.”
Kuemper put those traits to the test against the Ducks, who hold the NHL’s best record and are only one of two teams in league history to win 18 games in stretch of 19 contests.
“I think it’s a test for our entire group,” Yeo said, “to be honest.”
Piling up the points
Pominville became the 52nd active NHL player to reach 500 points when he registered his 15 assist of the season on Keith Ballard’s goal in Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks. Pominville, who began Tuesday’s game with 35 points, amassed 18 points on seven goals and 11 assists in the past 27 games.
He then added to the total by scoring a first-period goal against the Ducks, banking the puck off goalie Jonas Hiller’s back.
Brother vs. brother
Mikko Koivu’s team faced his brother’s, Saku’s, for the 20th time in their careers, but Mikko didn’t play for the Wild because of a broken right ankle.
In head-to-head competition, Mikko has four goals and eight assists compared with Saku’s three goals and four assists. But Saku has the better plus-minus rating, plus-9 to Mikko’s minus-4.
Dishing ’em out
Entering Tuesday, Mikael Granlund had 10 points, nine on assists, in 17 games since returning from a concussion that limited him to 29 seconds of ice time in 14 games between Nov. 23 and Dec. 19.
He added to that total by assisting on Pominville’s goal and scoring one 13 seconds into the second period.