The Minnesota Wild can move closer to first place in the West Division with a regulation win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday night in Saint Paul, Minn.
The Wild (33-14-4, 70 points) have won five in a row over the West-leading Golden Knights (36-13-2, 74 points), including a dramatic 6-5 comeback victory on Monday night in the front end of the two-game series.
Trailing 5-3, Minnesota scored three goals in the final 9:11 to pull out the victory, the third consecutive game the Wild overcame a multi-goal deficit in the third period to garner at least one point in the standings.
With goalie Cam Talbot on the bench for an extra attacker, Kirill Kaprizov tied the game with a rebound goal with 1:32 left, and defenseman Jonas Brodin followed with the game-winner 26 seconds later with a long shot from the left point through traffic past Vegas goalie Robin Lehner.
Just four points separate first and third place in the West. If Minnesota can complete the sweep of Vegas with a regulation win on Wednesday, it would close to within two points of the Golden Knights with both teams having four games to play.
Colorado, which plays at San Jose on Wednesday, is two points behind Vegas and still has a Monday night contest with the Golden Knights in Las Vegas remaining. The Avalanche have played one fewer game than the Wild and Golden Knights.
“In a race like this, it’s obviously huge to deny them points,” said Wild forward Nick Bonino, who had two goals and an assist in Monday’s win. “As a group, we’re pretty sure at some point we’re going to have to go through Vegas or Colorado. Obviously, we’d love to continue to move up in the standings, but wherever we end up, we just want to focus on these five (remaining regular-season) games, playing the right way, flipping the playoff switch now, getting our mind right and just playing the right way all the way through.”
Monday’s victory marked the fourth time this season that the Wild rallied from a multi-goal deficit in the third period to pull out a win.
“Everyone just keeps going,” said defenseman Jared Spurgeon. “That’s the best thing about this group. We play until the final buzzer. Obviously, we don’t want to be in this position all the time, but it shows a lot of character to come back against teams like we just did.”
“When we get down, we don’t panic,” said Wild coach Dean Evason. “There’s no throwing shots at each other. There’s no frustration.”
Minnesota, which is 17-2-1 in its last 20 home games, improved to 11-2-2 all-time against Vegas, including 5-1-1 this season.
Monday night’s loss was just the second all season for Vegas when leading after two periods (24-2-0), both to Minnesota. It also marked the first time in team history the Golden Knights lost a game in regulation when scoring five goals.
“That’s about as tough as they get, that kind of loss,” said Vegas coach Peter DeBoer. “It doesn’t happen very often. We’ve been pretty good in those situations in my time here. … Thankfully it’s not two weeks from now in a (Stanley Cup) playoff series because that would, obviously, be a lot harder to take.”
DeBoer said that top goal scorer Max Pacioretty, who missed Monday’s loss after leaving the team’s win at Arizona on Saturday night with an undisclosed injury, is day-to-day.
–Field Level Media