Wild get two goals from Staal in win vs. Knights
SAINT PAUL, Minn. — After a pair of blowout losses this week, the Minnesota Wild needed a hand getting back into the win column. The Vegas Golden Knights gave it to them.
Eric Staal scored twice in the third period, including the game-winner with 7:55 to play, and lifted the Wild to a 4-2 win over the Golden Knights on Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center.
Matt Dumba’s blast struck Vegas defenseman Deryk Engelland on the hand and deflected to Staal for a tap-in goal.
“It was a good look by Dumbs,” Staal said. “We kind of made eye contact. I kind of spun off. I don’t think he was looking to shot-pass it off me, but the rebound kind of stuck right where I wanted it. We had a few looks at that throughout the game and weren’t able to catch it. So it was nice to get one on that one.”
Staal, who now has scored against all 31 NHL teams, would later add an empty-net goal with 5.1 seconds left to seal it.
Vegas goaltender Malcolm Subban, who finished with 28 saves, took responsibility for Staal’s winning goal.
“It’s tough, you want to reward guys for blocking shots,” Subban said. “I love the fact that these guys are willing to block shots for me. Obviously, it’s a tough bounce, I thought I could have stayed up and been a little more patient on it. It got to the net, and I think I went down too early and it cost us the game.”
With Minnesota clinging to a 1-0 lead entering the final period, the teams erupted for three goals in a 2:45 span early in the third.
Brayden McNabb got Vegas (15-8-1) on the board with a blast through a screen on an odd-man rush that fooled Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk at the 2:42 mark.
The Wild (12-10-3) nearly regained the lead less than a minute later, but Subban robbed Nino Niederreiter with a pad save at the right post.
Jonathan Marchessault took a William Karlsson drop pass and snapped a shot past Dubnyk at 4:39, but Jonas Brodin answered for Minnesota 48 seconds later with a shot from the left point that deflected off McNabb’s stick.
Dubnyk earned his 10th win of the season, making 29 saves, including a potential game-saving right pad save on Vegas’ Reilly Smith just over four minutes remaining.
Despite the result, Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said he felt his team played well enough to win.
“We had a good jump in us in the third period, it was a good hockey game,” Gallant said. “We battled back and got a lead 2-1 and then Minnesota fought back and took it at the end. But we played well, we worked hard and competed hard, and if we do that most nights on the road, we’ll get some points.”
Minnesota’s Mikael Granlund broke a scoreless tight late in the second period on a beautiful feed from defenseman Mike Reilly.
Reilly picked up the puck just inside the Vegas blue line and carried it to the top of the left circle, opening a passing lane, before whipping a cross-ice pass to Granlund for a one-timer from the right faceoff dot.
Granlund’s upper corner blast beat Subban’s outstretched glove at 17:01. Granlund posted his sixth of the season, giving him five goals and 11 points in his past nine games.
Jason Zucker picked up the second assist for the Las Vegas native’s 14th point (10 goals, four assists) in his last 13 games.
“We understand that we’re not going to win a lot of 6-5 games, so we have to win the 4-2, the 3-1, the 2-1 kind of games,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “And if we play the right way, I thought for especially the first two periods, I thought we played the right way and we had a 1-0 lead.”
The Wild outshot the Golden Knights 12-9 and blocked nine Vegas shots in a scoreless first period that was a victory of sorts for Minnesota, which allowed 30 goals in its previous seven games.
NOTES: The Golden Knights activated D Luca Sbisa from injured reserve on Thursday. Sbisa missed seven games with a lower-body injury. ... Vegas placed RW David Perron and RW William Carrier on injured reserve. Perron sat out his third straight game after sustaining an upper-body injury Nov. 24 against San Jose. Carrier missed his second game since sustaining an upper-body injury Nov. 25 against Arizona. Each player is expected to miss at least a week. ... Minnesota claimed D Nate Prosser after the St. Louis Blues placed him on waivers. The Elk River, Minn., native, who played one game for the Blues this season. He is beginning his third stint as a member of his hometown club. ... Wild LW Jason Zucker is the first Las Vegas native drafted into the NHL and maintains his offseason residence there.