Wild go wild in third, come back to beat Golden Knights
LAS VEGAS — Joel Eriksson Ek scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period, Cam Talbot made 27 saves and the Minnesota Wild defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1 Saturday night.
The Wild became the first team to sweep a two-game series in Las Vegas this season, after they opened a four-game road trip with two losses in San Jose.
“Every guy knew we had a little bit more to give after those San Jose games,” said Talbot, who was also in net for Minnesota’s shootout win over Vegas on Thursday. “Tonight I thought was one of our more complete games of the season. We stuck with it in the third period. That’s a big character win, and two big wins in this building.”
Talbot came in as one of the hottest goaltenders in the league since March 12, sporting a 6-1-1 mark with a 1.72 goals-against average and .948 save percentage.
Kirill Kaprizov provided the equalizer in the third period, tying the game when Eriksson Ek delivered a beautiful pass through traffic to the backdoor where the rookie was perfectly positioned for his 14th goal of the season. Then, 55 seconds later, Eriksson Ek gave Minnesota the lead when he banged home his own rebound through Marc-Andre Fleury’s pads.
“We had scoring chances the whole game, just (stayed) with it,” Erikkson Ek said. “We know we can score. Being around the net is going to make us score. Kirill was slapping his stick on the ice and I just tried to get it through (on his goal). On (my) goal, it was just a broken play and I just tried to stay with it and was lucky it went in.”
Fleury, who has had his problems with Minnesota during his career and dropped to 6-13-0 against the Wild, has lost four of his last five after struggling with his rebound control all game. Despite looking refreshed to start, and stopping several of Minnesota’s second-chance opportunities, it finally caught up with him in the third period.
“We weren’t sure we were going to get one by Fleury, he was so good, just looked dialed in,” Minnesota coach Dean Evason said. “We weren’t 100% that we would get that break.”
Fleury stopped 25 shots. Tomas Nosek scored the lone goal for Vegas (0-2-1), which is mired in its first three-game skid of the season.
Nosek’s goal was fortuitous after the puck took a hard bounce off the boards, and teammate Nic Roy played the decoy in skating by rather than gathering it. Minnesota’s Ryan Suter and Marcus Johansson followed, as the puck went straight to Nosek, who backhanded it past everybody for his fifth goal of the season.
Nosek has registered at least one point in eight of his last 10 games, having scored three goals and assisting on six others.
The Golden Knights, who were 15-0-0 when leading after the second period, had won 23 straight in that situation dating to last season. It is the first time Vegas has lost three straight since Peter DeBoer took over as coach on Jan. 15, 2020.
“You can see where the games are going,” DeBoer said. “We have to be comfortable in those types of games. The playoffs are on the horizon here and everyone’s dialing in on playoff-type details.”
Wayne Newton, one of Las Vegas’ all-time favorite entertainers, was in attendance for his birthday, wearing a gold jersey. Newton, dubbed Mr. Las Vegas decades ago, turned 79.
The Golden Knights, who rank 25th in the NHL with their power play (17.9%), were 0-for-7 with a man advantage during their two-game set vs. Minnesota, and are now 0-for-10 in the last three games.
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Fleury, who has 483 career wins, remains one shy of Ed Belfour on the all-time wins list. Fleury, who has a league second-best four shutouts and 65 in his career, also remains one shy of his hero Patrick Roy on the all-time list.
Minnesota: Returns home to start a two-game series vs. Colorado on Monday.
Vegas: Opens a two-game set in St. Louis on Monday.