Shorthanded Wild dethrone Kings in overtime
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Wild have once again snuffed out a potential losing streak before it started.
This win might have been their best response yet.
Mikael Granlund zoomed between two defenders to find open ice and wrap the winning shot around Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick with a right-left move just 12 seconds into overtime, giving the Wild a 5-4 victory over the Kings on Monday night.
Granlund’s career-high 20th goal gave the Wild a 15-3-2 record following a loss. They’ve dropped consecutive games in regulation only once all season, on Nov. 1 and 5. This was the Wild’s 15th comeback win. They answered all four goals by the Kings: Nick Shore, Tanner Pearson, Jake Muzzin and Marian Gaborik.
“Everybody knows we can do it, and it’s not a big deal if we go down,” Granlund said. “Obviously we’d like to lead the game, but sometimes it’s like that.”
Jason Zucker’s spinning wrist shot midway through the third period tied the game for the Wild, who also had goals from Nino Niederreiter, Jordan Schroeder and Ryan White in his debut. White and Martin Hanzal were acquired in a trade with Arizona the night before. They arrived at the arena after a long flight and physical exams less than two hours before the puck drop.
Tyler Graovac also hustled to Minnesota from AHL affiliate Iowa and played his third game in three nights.
He was needed because veteran forwards Zach Parise and Jason Pominville were quarantined with mumps. Wild coach Bruce Boudreau joked about rolling a dice to make his lines. He had “three minutes” to go over the offensive and defensive systems with Hanzal and White.
Boudreau was pleased by the way they both followed direction and performed on adrenaline and fumes. White added an assist, playing on the first line with Niederreiter and Eric Staal. He had a wide grin on his face after tying the game at 3 late in the second period and hearing a loud ovation from the crowd.
“Definitely not used to that right now. It’s a little bit different down in Arizona,” White said, adding: “It’s an easy team to jump into. A veteran group in here. I just came in and went about my business.”
The Wild wrapped up their franchise-record eight-game homestand with a 5-2-1 record. In their past 33 games since Dec. 13, they’ve scored four-plus goals 18 times.
After losing 5-3 to Chicago before their bye, during which the Blackhawks pulled within one point in the Western Conference race, the Wild were given a gift from general manager Chuck Fletcher for their franchise-best record at this point in the season with the acquisition of the well-regarded Hanzal.
The decision to send draft picks to the Coyotes was as sure a sign as ever that the club is all-in with its belief it can win the Stanley Cup this year.
“They played well. Obviously we showed a lot of resiliency coming from behind all game,” Schroeder said. “They’re playing for their playoff spot right now, so we knew they were going to have some desperation, and we matched it.”
The Kings acquired Ben Bishop from Tampa Bay the day before for a capable alternative in the crease down the stretch with Quick working his way back from the groin injury that kept him out for 59 games until returning over the weekend. They started a stretch of 15 games in 31 days with this matchup.
“A point’s a point right now,” Muzzin said, “but we’ve got to tighten up some things if we want two points.”
Coach Darryl Sutter declined to commit to a Bishop-Quick rotation, quipping “it’s not baseball.” Quick made 30 saves.
“We’ve got to make sure the guy that has played two in a row is getting his proper rest and taking care of his body.”
Niederreiter, tied for the team lead with Granlund, reached the 20-goal mark for the third straight season. … Shore snapped a 20-game streak without a goal. … Pearson had four goals in three games against the Wild this season. … The list of Wild players with career highs just 60 games into the season continues to grow: Spurgeon has 22 assists and 30 points after setting up Niederreiter and Granlund. … The Wild are 5-0-2 in their past seven games against the Kings. … The Wild had only nine comeback wins last season.
Los Angeles: The Kings play Tuesday at Calgary before returning to host Toronto Thursday.
Minnesota: The Wild play Tuesday at Winnipeg and Thursday at Columbus before coming back home.