Zucker’s shootout winner lifts Wild to win over Kings
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Jason Zucker knew just what he wanted to do on his turn in the shootout.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game we’ve ever played,” Zucker said, “but we did what we had to do. We battled. I thought we were skating pretty well.”
It was Zucker’s first career shootout goal in five tries. Zucker was the only shooter from either team to convert.
“I thought we deserved it,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We played 65 minutes really hard. There was no let-up tonight.”
Ilya Kovalchuck and Jeff Carter scored for the Kings, who came into the game tied with Ottawa for the fewest points in the league.
Carter scored with 2 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the third period to tie the game for the Kings, who fell behind twice only to tie the score.
Staal’s goal 7:13 into the third period gave the Wild a 2-1 lead until Carter tied it about 10 minutes later.
Niederreiter, who was dropped to the fourth line Tuesday, scored off a wrist shot at 10:16 of the second period to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead. Niederreiter scored for the second time in three games after a 12-game goal drought.
“At the end of the day, you just go out there and try to do your best. It doesn’t matter what line you’re on,” Niederreiter said. “It just happened to work that way.”
Kovalchuk tied it on a rebound 16:03 into the second. Kovalchuck had gone 10 games without scoring.
Minnesota’s Ryan Suter threw a shot on goal at 7:13 in the third. It was deflected into an open net by Staal, bouncing off of his shin pad. It was the veteran center’s first goal in 10 games.
“A lot of times, the game can be fair. Sometimes it’s not,” Staal said.
“It took one like that to get a reward. We’ll take it, and hopefully that can kick start me in the right direction — and all of us. We’ll take the win.”
“I thought we were probably lucky to get a point,” Carter said. “We had a slow start. They played last night. They traveled last night. We had a slow start. We got it to overtime, which was good. We showed some battle and got back, but probably not our best game.”
Playing for the second consecutive night, Minnesota started backup Alex Stalock in goal in place of All-Star starter Devon Dubnyk, who was pulled during Monday’s 7-4 loss at Philadelphia. Stalock made 31 saves Tuesday and stopped all three shootout tries.
Jonathan Quick made 40 saves for Los Angeles.
“We rely on him a little bit too much, but he made some big saves, for sure,” Kings coach Willie Desjardins said. “The game could have got away on us a little bit, but we do depend on him that way.”
The Kings had to kill off a 4-on-3 penalty during the overtime period. … Dubnyk had started 16 of the last 17 games Minnesota.
Kings: At Dallas Stars on Thursday.
Wild: Host Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.