Eriksson Ek scores 2, Wild rally to beat Stars 3-2
DALLAS (AP) — Joel Eriksson Ek found himself close to the net twice and took advantage both times.
On his first goal of the game, he barely touched the puck on its way across the goal line. The second broke a tie with 27 seconds to play and the Minnesota Wild rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Friday night.
Eriksson Ek skated from behind the net to the right goalpost and put a wraparound behind Dallas goalie Ben Bishop for the winning goal.
“I saw the goalie was on the far post, so I was trying to get it to the other side as quickly as possible,” Eriksson Ek said.
To the Wild, Eriksson Ek’s goals were being in the right place at the right time. To Dallas, luck was involved in the goals.
“Dubnyk played great for them,” Stars interim coach Rick Bowness said. “He did his thing, and they got a couple fluky goals on us. It’s simple as that. … That (Minnesota) line got a couple of big goals from working low. They’re big, they’re strong, they’re heavy, and they’re hard to defend.”
Eriksson Ek and Donato scored less than four minutes apart to tie the score with less than eight minutes remaining in the middle period.
“We knew coming in here and playing a rested team it would be a real man’s game” Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Then you get behind 2-0, but even when we were behind 2-0 I thought we were there. Then, when we were behind one goal, the bench livened up.”
Before Friday, Eriksson Ek had just four goals this season and had not scored a point in nine career games against Dallas. His first goal came on a play when he barely touched the puck before it went in off a Stars player’s stick.
Dallas remained third in the Central Division. With four wins in five games, Central rival Minnesota moved up to a sixth-place tie with Chicago, just two points behind Calgary for the second wild card in the Western Conference.
“These are important points for us,” Eriksson Ek said. “This was a step in the right direction.”
The Stars finished strong in the first period, taking the last nine shots on goal, including Pavelski’s goal on the power play. From low in the slot, he put in the rebound of a shot by Tyler Seguin with 4:32 left.
“We had more good looks in that first period than we’ve had in a long time,” Bowness said. “We just didn’t put the puck in the net at the right times. Give their goalie credit.”
Each team killed a penalty early in the second, but 2 seconds after Eriksson Ek left the penalty box, Gurianov drilled a slap shot from the right faceoff dot past Dubnyk.
The Wild pulled within one at 8:25 of the second. Ryan Suter passed from behind the net. Players from both teams touched the puck with Eriksson Ek the last Minnesota player to touch it.
At 12:09, Donato took a wrist shot from low in the right circle that squeezed into a small space between Bishop and the right post.
Minnesota came into the game with the poorest penalty-killing percentage in the NHL but stopped the Stars on seven of their eight power plays.
“Those are fun to make,” Dubnyk said. “I just tried to get over there as quick as I can. It’s certainly a good feeling when you feel it the middle of the blocker.”
NOTES: Minnesota LW Zach Parise played in his 1,000th game. … Dallas RW Alexander Radulov (upper-body injury) didn’t play in the third period. Interim coach Rick Bowness wasn’t sure whether Radulov would accompany the team to St. Louis for Saturday’s game. … Stars C Joe Pavelski has a four-game points streak with five points (four goals, one assist). He has three of his six power-play goals this season during that streak. … Dallas C Tyler Seguin has gone a career-high 15 games without a goal but picked up his eighth assist during that span on Pavelski’s goal. … Bishop earned his second assist of the season on Gurianov’s goal. … It was the final game between the Central Division rivals this season, with Minnesota going 3-1-0 and Dallas 1-2-1.
Wild: Begin a three-game homestand on Sunday against Colorado.
Stars: At St. Louis on Saturday night.