The Minnesota Wild scored four goals in the second period and survived the third for a 5-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday at the Xcel Energy Center.
Thomas Vanek led the charge with two highlight reel goals, the second of which sent Jets starting goaltender Ondrej Pavelec to the bench nearing the midway point of the frame. Vanek started the barrage with a slap shot on a clean breakaway from in between the circles. He teed it up and ripped it just inside the post. It took him just five minutes and 26 seconds to notch his second goal of the game. It also was a move for the ages. He slid the puck between his skates and reached around Jets defenseman Paul Postma before lifting a shot over Pavelec’s glove arm.
“I saw it was a one-on-one opportunity,” Vanek said of his second goal. “I knew I had pretty good speed through the neutral zone. I just tried something and obviously it worked out well.”
In between Vanek’s pair of goals, Erik Haula ripped a wrist shot past Pavelec off a shorthanded breakaway. Haula caught a lob pass from Jared Spurgeon on a delayed penalty on the Jets and streaked in on Pavelec. The Wild beat the Jets twice from the same spot on the ice to the same spot on the net one minute and 29 seconds apart.
After Vanek chased Pavelec, Chris Porter got into the act with his first goal as a member of the Wild. He deflected a shot from Spurgeon past Jets backup goaltender Michael Hutchinson.
“It was huge,” Vanek said on the importance of extending the lead. “That is a team that can roll four lines and keep coming just like they did at the end. It is important to get that third one, fourth and fifth like we did. We needed all of them at the end.”
The Wild (9-3-2) were able to loosen the Jets defensemen in the second period by extending the wings for a home run pass. The Jets forecheck is most effective when the defensemen are able to pinch on the wings. The Wild took that fourth forechecker away.
“They forecheck hard so we talked about, our defense, once we get control of (the puck) to stretch the zone and see if we can create something that way,” Vanek said. “I think we did a good job at it.”
The Jets (8-6-2) put up a fight in the third period with two goals in a two minute and 35 second span midway through the third period. Former University of Minnesota star Blake Wheeler shot a pass from Bryan Little into the wide open after Devan Dubnyk was caught in a pile of bodies in his crease.
Little got the Jets to within one goal with his second goal of the game on a rebound off his own breakaway shot with seven minutes and 20 seconds remaining in the game. He scored his first goal at the 11:45 mark of the first period to tie the game 1-1.
Nino Niederreiter got the scoring started by lifting his second try over the pad of Pavelec there minutes and 44 seconds into the game. Mikko Koivu lost Jets center Adam Lowry behind the net and Niederreiter was left all along at the post. Koivu has recorded points in 11 of 14 games this season.
No. 3 – Jared Spurgeon. The Wild defenseman recorded two assists.
No. 2 – Erik Haula. The Wild forward scored a goal.
No. 1 – Thomas Vanek. The Wild forward scored two goals.
Winnipeg….…1 0 2 – 3
Minnesota……1 4 0 – 5
First Period – 1, Minnesota, Niederreiter 5 (Koivu, Zucker), 3:44. 2, Winnipeg, Little 7 (Byfugline, Ladd), 11:45. Penalties – Bench, WPG (too many men; served Petan), 12:36.
Second Period – 3, Minnesota, Vanek 5 (Folin, Prosser), 4:30. 4, Minnesota, Haula 2 (Spurgeon, Coyle), 5:59 (sh). 5, Minnesota, Vanek 6 (Granlund, ), 9:56. 6, Minnesota, Porter 1 (Spurgeon, Suter), 12:44. Penalties – Thorburn, WPG, major (fighting), 2:04; Gabriel, MIN, major (fighting), 2:04; Brodin, MIN (tripping), 5:48; Trouba, WPG (hooking), 10:39; Engstrom, WPG (delay of game-puck over glass), 17:36; Burmistrov, WPG (tripping), 17:55; Byfuglien, WPG (tripping), 19:37.
Third Period – 7, Winnipeg, Wheeler 7 (Little, Ladd), 10:05 (pp). 8, Winnipeg, Little 8 (Wheeler, Enstrom), 12:40. Penalties – Vanek, MIN (hooking), 8:14; Trouba, WPG (interference), 12:49.
Shots on goal – Winnipeg 8-7-13 28. Minnesota 7-11-10 28.
Goalies – Winnipeg, Pavelec (8-12), Hutchinson (15-16). Minnesota, Dubnyk (25-28). Referees – T.J. Luxmore, Brad Watson. Linesmen – Ryan Galloway, Mike Cvik.