Wild storms back to sink Senators
OTTAWA — In a game that saw 10 goals scored, the turning point was a save. Make that two.
When Minnesota goalie Alex Stalock stopped Nate Thompson’s second-period short-handed breakaway and then Tom Pyatt on the rebound, it prevented the Senators from re-establishing a two-goal lead.
It also allowed the Wild to continue their five-goal run on the way to a 6-4, come-from-behind victory on Tuesday night at Canadian Tire Centre.
“Stalock made a big save on that breakaway and that was as good as a goal,” Wild defenseman Nate Prosser said. “There was no looking back from there. We tied it up and had our swagger and confidence going into the third and took it from there.”
Prosser’s first goal of the season at 1:48 of the third period gave the Wild their initial lead of the night, and one they did not relinquish.
Eric Staal led Minnesota with two goals and one assist for a three-point effort. Also scoring for the Wild (18-13-3) were Jonas Brodin, Chris Stewart and Mikko Koivu.
Erik Karlsson led the Senators (11-14-7) with two goals, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Derick Brassard had the others.
“I think we came out the way that we wanted,” said Karlsson, whose team took a 3-1 into the second half of the game before Stewart started the Minnesota rally at 10:19 of the second period.
“Even in the second, I don’t think we did a bad job, they just did a really good job there. Once we were up 3-1, they came back strong at us.
“They made us work really hard. We got a little fatigued and we didn’t make the best decisions. We still went into the third period with a 3-3 game and felt good about ourselves.
“Unfortunately, they kept coming and we couldn’t really find the solution to stop them early enough and create our own stuff.”
While Craig Anderson had 34 stops for the Senators, Stalock finished with 28. Along with the short-handed saves in the second period, he also made a big stop against Bobby Ryan with the Wild leading 4-3.
“Thank God I got over there,” Stalock said. “He probably wants that back. He fired it on the ice. If he gets it up 12 inches, it’s in the net. It’s another save that turns out to be a big one.”
Staal said, “That’s big in the NHL if you can get key saves at important times. It makes a huge difference. That game could have got away from us and Al made some huge stops to keep it tight and give us a chance to come back and we did.”
The loss was a disheartening one for the Senators, who had designs on climbing back into the playoff hunt after two wins. In trying to build a three-game winning streak for the first time since early October, they turned in a sloppy defensive zone effort.
“Our discipline killed us and gave them momentum,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said. “We came out, and we played hard, and we gave ourselves a lead late in the second period. It’s definitely not an approach or attitude or work ethic, it became a discipline thing.”
Boucher spun positive the fact the Senators managed two wins in a three-game homestand before visiting the Sunshine State for pre-Christmas games against Tampa on Thursday and Florida on Saturday. But this loss left a bitter taste in the mouth of his players.
“At the end of the day, we can’t be giving up two-goal leads, especially at home,” Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman said. “Obviously, you can look at the game and say it might have been this, it might have been that, but at the end of the day we’ve got to do a better job of closing games out.”
Meanwhile, the Wild are also headed to Florida for two before the break, visiting the Panthers on Thursday and Tampa on Friday.
“It’s a big week for us,” Staal said. “We get two opportunities down in Florida against two good teams and we’ve got our dads tagging along, so we get to enjoy two days with them and hopefully tag on two wins.”
NOTES: Wild G Devan Dubnyk will join the team in Florida and be on the ice Thursday, coach Bruce Boudreau said. Dubnyk has missed four games after suffering a lower body injury Dec. 12 against Calgary. ... The Wild also scratched D Gustav Olofsson and RW Zack Mitchell. ... Senators F Gabriel Dumont skated in the morning but was given a seat to rest a sore foot. Senators C Nick Paul took his spot in the lineup. ... Senators D Ben Harpur was the other scratch.