Lightning go down big, drop finale of road trip to Wild
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Jason Zucker is showing why Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo was so excited about his team’s depth this season.
Zucker scored two goals, and Minnesota routed the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-2 on Saturday night.
Zach Parise and Marco Scandella both had a goal and an assist, and 13 Wild players had at least one point.
"That’s huge. We know we’re a deep team," said Zucker, who usually skates on the fourth line. "We’re four lines deep, and tonight kind of shows that. Every guy is really buying into the system and playing hard, and that’s really what matters."
Minnesota tied a team record with four goals on eight shots in the first period, capped by Zucker spinning around along the boards and firing the puck past goalie Evgeni Nabokov at 17:15.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper pulled Nabokov, who has 16 career wins against Minnesota, and replaced him with Ben Bishop after Zucker’s goal.
Bishop allowed three goals for the third time this season.
"Would those guys say they could’ve had a better game tonight? Maybe, but if you’re not going to be at your best, do it all in the same game," Cooper said.
Scandella, Mikko Koviu and Erik Haula all scored their first goals of the season in the first period. A different line was on the ice for each of Minnesota’s opening-frame goals.
Through six games, 11 Wild players have scored goals, led by Zucker with four.
"I think right now we have four lines that really can generate," said Thomas Vanek, who had two assists. "I think if you have a team like that, it showed tonight, but once you get to Game 50 and 60, I think that’s when it’s important, the depth that we have."
Parise and Jared Spurgeon scored to give Minnesota a 6-1 lead midway through the second. Zucker’s second goal was a short-handed tally late in the third.
Anton Stralman scored for Tampa Bay to briefly make it 2-1 in the first. It was the first home goal allowed by the Wild and goalie Darcy Kuemper this season, a span of 131 minutes, 4 seconds.
Nikita Kucherov scored his first of the season late in the second when he tipped in a shot from Stralman.
The Lightning, who played in Winnipeg on Friday, went 3-2 on their five-game road trip, but lost five regulars to injury along the way.
Brett Connolly, J.T. Brown, Ryan Callahan and Alex Killorn are all day-to-day. Victor Hedman is out 4-to-6 weeks with a fractured finger.
"You can’t be tired. This is the ninth game of the year. That’s a tough one," center Brian Boyle said. "When it’s that lopsided you can try and make any excuse you want, but we obviously didn’t do nearly enough good things, and that’s disappointing."
The one area Minnesota will look to improve on is its power play. The Wild were 0 for 1 with the advantage and are 0 for 20 this season.
But as long as they keep getting contributions from a wide range of players, the power play should come around.
"More scoring, more depth you get, more dangerous you’re going to be," Koivu said.
NOTES: The Lightning recalled forwards Mike Blunden and Jonathan Marchessault from AHL Syracuse to replace Brown (upper body) and Connolly (lower body), who were injured in Friday’s win over Winnipeg. … Minnesota defensemen Keith Ballard and Christian Folin missed their second straight game because of flu-like symptoms.