The Minnesota Wild beat the Tampa Bay lightning 2-1 in a thrilling, down to the wire finish.z The Wild took the two points and now have a total of 67 points on a record of 30-21-7. This was an exciting fast paced game from start to finish that featured a total of 64 shots on goal and fire wagon hockey throughout the game. Minnesota never trailed after taking the lead 16:04 into the first period on a Nino Niederreiter power play goal. After a scoreless second Dany Heatley gave the Wild a two to zip lead just 34 seconds into the third period. The Lightning would cut that lead in half at the 13:53 fo mark of the final frame, but that would be the extent of scoring this night. Jared Spurgeon, in his return to action after missing 14 games during the month of January, would have the primary assist on both Wild goals.
The Wild came out fast and hard in each period, looking to gain control of the pace of play and take the advantage. Once again the Wild struggled at the faceoff circle winning just 20 of 56 draws. Luckily for the Wild Darcy Kuemper was up to the task Tuesday night after a couple of rough outings. The Minnesota rookie now has a record of of 7-3-2, a save percentage of .918 and a 2.5o goals against average. At the other end of the ice was Ben Bishop, Tampa Bays hulking, young net minder who stands stands 6′ 7″and weighs in at 214 lbs. a Kuemper stands 6′ 5″ and tips the scales at 205. Tuesday was the biggest net minder matchup of the season for both teams.
The Wild also won the battle of the penalty box scoring a power play goal for the fourth straight game. Minnesota went 1 for two on the power play with Niederreiter’s goal to open the scoring. The Lightning were 0 for 2 with the man advantage, taking a total of three penalties on the night. The Wild had the same total of penalties as the refs let the players play without Whistling every little infraction. Neiderreiter opened the scoring for the Wild with 3:56 left. Jared Spurgeon cut loose with a blast from the top of the left faceoff circle and Bishop failed to control the rebound. El Nino then scooped up the puck and put it behind Bishop and the Wild were off and running. Goal number 2 for the Wild would be some 24:30 later just 34 seconds into the third period. This time it would be Dany Heatley who would be on the receiving end of a Jared Sprgeon pass. After out working two Lightning players Spurgeon placed a perfect pass on Heatley’s tape. All Heatley had to do was flip the puck home to give the Wild a two goal lead. The goal was Heater’s 11 of the season, while the assists were Spurgeon”s 12th and 13th. Spurgeon was really flying around the ice Tuesday and jumped into the offense on several occasions. The second assist on Minnesota’s first goal went to Jason Zucker, his first helper of the season.
One bad spot in an otherwise positive outing for the Wild was the loss of Marco Scandella to a lower body injury just two minutes into the 1st period. Scandella fell to the ice awkwardly and immediately looked to be in a great deal of pain. He had to be helped off the ice by a pair of teammates and it took a trainer and another person to get him down the tunnel. We’ll have to wait until sometime Wednesday for an update on his condition. Just when the Wild get a full compliment of healthy defensemen the injury bug bites again.
One scary moment for Tampa Bay fans came just after the 11:00 mark of the second period when Lightning net minder Bishop took a full blown Zach Parise slap shot to the center of his face mask. A clearly stunned Bishop dropped to all fours before slowly coming to his senses. Bishop allowed one goal after the cage incident and didn’t seem to have any outward signs of distress the rest of the game, Wednesday morning may be another matter altogether. As the game wore on Tuesday evening it became clear that the only thing keeping the Lightning from being blown out of the Xcel Energy Center by 5 or 6 goals was Ben Bishop.
The Wild are down to a single game before the Olympic break. It would be a great way to build some momentum heading into the break with a win against the Nashville Predators Thursday evening. I’ll be back Thursday morning with a preview of Wild vs Predators. Until next time this is Scott Drain, shouting out, “Let’s Go Wild!”