The Minnesota Wild have never been out of a game this season. It looked like that was about to change by the midway point of the second period Sunday at against the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre. However, they cut a four-goal deficit to one, but could not get closer.
The Wild started their rally with five minutes and 43 seconds remaining in the second period when Mikko Koivu one-timed a pass from Mikael Granlund to the top shelf while on the power play. Just 38 seconds later, Justin Fontaine knocked a rebound out of midair over Hutchinson’s glove. Thomas Vanek set the play up by forcing Nikolaj Ehlers to mishandle the puck at center ice. Vanek chased the puck down and fired a sharp angle shot off Hutchinson to create the rebound.
Zach Parise did what the team’s leading goal scorer does to get the team within a goal with nine minutes and 19 seconds remaining in the game. After getting roughed up in front of the net, he forced a turnover behind the Jets net. He then wrapped a backhand off the skate of Mark Stuart and into the net.
The Wild had opportunities after, but could not get the equalizer past past Hutchinson. They had their best opportunity when Jets defenseman took an ill-advised board penalty with two minutes and three seconds remaining.
The Wild (5-2-1) got on the board first 10 seconds into the game, a franchise record for fastest goal at the start of a game, when Jason Zucker chipped a shot over the glove of Hutchinson. Zucker took the puck at center ice and turned Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba inside out at the blue line for the short breakaway. Jonas Brodin bounced a pass off the boards to Zucker to record his first point of the season.
The Jets (5-2-1) scored five straight goals with some fortunate bounces and poor Wild defense. Just one minute and 12 seconds after the Wild got on the board. Jets forward Bryan Little drove the net and had the puck bounce off his upper body and into the net.
The Jets took the lead for good two minutes and five seconds later when Blake Wheeler’s shot bounced off the skates of Little and Andrew Ladd before finding Ladd’s stick with an open net.
Nikolaj Ehlers extended the lead to 3-1 just past the midway point of the first period with a rocket wrist shot just inside the far post off a 2-on-1 rush. Jared Spurgeon couldn’t handle the puck at the offensive blue line to set up the odd-man rush. Spurgeon had a tough night with a minus-five rating.
Drew Stafford scored the first of his two goals 51 seconds into the second period to chase Darcy Kuemper. The Wild’s goaltender had the long range shot go off his body and slide into the net. Stafford greeted Devan Dubnyk with a backhand shot off a deke from the low slot into the open net less than four minutes later. The Wild completely abandoned the high scoring area and left Stafford all alone.
Dubnyk was in obvious discomfort after stopping a series of shots in the second period. He reportedly had some knee pain after Saturday’s win. Both he and head coach Mike Yeo said they were told it should not be an issue.
No. 3 – Bryan Little. The Jets forward had a goal and an assist.
No. 2 – Andrew Ladd. The Jets forward recorded a goal and an assist.
No. 1 – Drew Stafford. The Jets forward scored two goals.
Minnesota……1 2 1 – 4
Winnipeg…..…3 2 0 – 5
First Period – 1, Minnesota, Zucker 1 (Brodin), :10. 1, Winnipeg, Little 4 (Ladd, Wheeler), 1:22. 3, Winnipeg, Ladd 2 (Little, Wheeler), 3:27. 4, Winnipeg, Ehlers 3 (Scheifele, Perreault), 12:12. Penalties – Thorburn, WPG (holding), 4:49.
Second Period – 5, Winnipeg, Stafford 4 (Lowry, Trouba), :51. 6, Winnipeg, Stafford 5 (Byfuglien, Enstrom), 4:34. 7, Minnesota, Koivu 3 (Granlund, Pominville), 14:17 (pp). 8, Minnesota, Fontaine 1 (Vanek), 14:55. Penalties – Suter, MIN (tripping), 1:37; Thorburn, WPG (interference), 9:24; Burmistrov, WPG (elbowing), 13:11.
Third Period – 9, Minnesota, Parise 7 (Dumba), 10:41. Penalties – Trouba, WPG (hooking), :41; Byfuglien, WPG (boarding), 17:57.
Shots on goal – Minnesota 9-9-12 30. Winnipeg 14-10-6 33.
Goalies – Minnesota, Kuemper (14-18), Dubnyk (14-15). Winnipeg, Hutchinson (26-30). Referees – Marc Joannette, Kyle Rehman. Linesmen – Devin Berg, Brian Mach.