With the ink not even dry on his new four-year, $20.75 million deal, the Wild defenseman opened the scoring with an unassisted goal off an impressive rush against the Dallas Stars.
But his landmark day ended nightmarishly with Spurgeon taking a penalty and committing a turnover that led to the tying and go-ahead goals during Dallas’ latest come-from-behind victory over the Wild, this time by a 6-3 score.
“Exciting, but sort of stinks right now the way it ended,” a glum Spurgeon said afterward. “Not the game you want.”
The Wild, three weeks after coughing up a three-goal, third-period lead in an overtime loss to Dallas, didn’t wait until the third to crumble this time. It did so in a stunning final five minutes of the second period when a two-goal lead disintegrated into a one-goal deficit.
The NHL- and Central Division-leading Stars brandished all of their high-powered weapons when Jordie Benn, Vernon Fiddler and Tyler Seguin scored three goals in a 4:30 span, the tying and go-ahead goals coming 59 seconds apart.
Seguin’s goal point-blank on Devan Dubnyk came with 30.6 seconds left in the second after Spurgeon gave away the puck to the NHL’s leading goal scorer, Jamie Benn, in the slot. Seconds later, it was in the net.
“Just got to make a harder play there trying to get it out,” Spurgeon said.
Seguin’s goal came from roughly the same area Mikael Granlund had a chance to score on moments after Benn’s brother, Jordie, began the rally with 5:01 left in the period. But that try was smothered by Antti Niemi, who replaced Kari Lehtonen 8:16 into the first period after Spurgeon and Charlie Coyle scored.
Antoine Roussel scored 3:41 into the third, and that proved to be the winner when the Wild couldn’t get any closer after Nino Niederreiter stopped a 15-game goal drought to make it 4-3 with 9:34 left. Cody Eakin and Fiddler added empty-netters.
“It’s not the way we planned it,” said Coyle, who along with Niederreiter had a goal and an assist and was plus-3. “We came out hard and it’s nice jumping off to a 2-0 lead, especially against a team like that. But our sense of urgency kind of dropped, and we stopped going as hard for pucks and winning those loose puck battles.”
For 35 minutes, it was a solid top-to-bottom effort by the Wild, which got great play by its six defensemen and sustained pressure from its four lines.
It was a penalty-free game until 11:52 of the second period when Patrick Sharp and Granlund were called for matching roughing minors. Granlund literally got two minutes for skating away from Sharp’s retaliatory check for Granlund hitting John Klingberg.
When Mikko Koivu took an interference penalty, that gave the Stars’ power play a 1:28 4-on-3.
Coach Mike Yeo felt the Granlund penalty “changed the complexion of the game. I don’t know how we get a penalty for finishing a clean check.”
The Wild, led by Dubnyk and penalty killers Jarret Stoll, Ryan Carter, Marco Scandella and Jonas Brodin, killed the power play. But the Wild gained no momentum from the big kill.
The Stars came to life and Jordie Benn made it 2-1 35 seconds later.
“The last couple games haven’t been good enough by our standards,” Yeo said, including Saturday’s loss in Nashville that ended a nine-game point streak. “This is what you worry about when you get on a bit of a streak and things are going well and then we scored a bunch of goals at home.
“You worry about what that’s going to do to the group.”