LOS ANGELES – The goal would have been memorable regardless of when it happened.
Such is the case when a player goes 27 games without scoring.
But the timing of winger Nino Niederreiter’s tally might not have been better for the Wild, as it erased an early deficit and seemed to ignite the spark his line to lead the Wild to an eventual 3-1 win over the Kings Thursday at Staples Center – an outcome that improved the team to 3-2 on this franchise-record seven-game road swing.
“We weren't as lively,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Once we got the goal, all of a sudden everything picked up for us.”
Niederreiter redirected in a puck in front on the power play in the first period to tie it at 1, his first goal in 28 games – a skid that stretched back to last March.
His excitement was palpable and immediate as he celebrated with teammates, who looked to share in his joy.
“I think he thanked me with his eyes,” said winger Zach Parise, who sent the puck toward the net for Niederreiter to finish. “You could see the relief. He got some color back in his face. It was great. You never want a teammate to be in that situation, but it was great to see him get one.”
The goal also kicked off a six-point effort by his line, which also included Parise and captain Mikko Koivu.
“There are instances where you just get together with a couple guys and it just clicks,” Parise said. “Other times, you gotta work at it. Who knows what the lines will be tomorrow, but we’ll continue to work at it and keep talking and look at video and get better.”
Parise tallied his 700th career point with his game-winning goal in the second period.
“It's nice to be on the ice for Zach's 700th point,” Niederreiter said. “That's definitely special, and hopefully we can build on that."
The power play is also in groove, with Niederreiter’s goal the seventh tally from the unit over the past six games.
“We had a lot of opportunities, and they're starting to know where each other are on the power play,” Boudreau said. “That bodes well for the future.”
The Wild is back in action Friday in nearby Anaheim, as it visits the Ducks. With that the second game of three in four days, it sounds like Alex Stalock will get the nod in net.
This road trip ends Sunday with a matinee against the Blues.