By Stephen Hunt, The Sports Xchange
DALLAS — On Sunday in Saint Paul, the Minnesota Wild blew a two-goal lead to the Nashville Predators and lost.
Minnesota coughed up the same lead Tuesday against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center, but thanks to Chris Stewart scoring the clinching goal in the shootout and Devan Dubnyk stopping 35 of 37 shots, the Wild prevailed 3-2.
Stewart, the Wild’s fifth shooter, beat Kari Lehtonen with a backhand. It initially appeared Lehtonen stopped Stewart’s attempt, but the puck trickled through.
“(The Stars) are a team behind us in the standings,” Stewart said. “We have to keep them behind us and win those games.”
Having Stewart in position to end the game was exactly how Wild coach Bruce Boudreau drew things up.
“He knew he was going,” Boudreau said. “I didn’t want him to have to go where he had to tie it up. I wanted him to go win it.”
Minnesota (31-11-5) also got goals from Jason Pominville and Mikko Koivu while extending its road point streak to 13 games.
Dallas (19-20-10) received goals from Tyler Seguin and Patrick Eaves in its second consecutive overtime loss. It was the Stars’ first shootout of the season. Jason Spezza had two assists. Lehtonen stopped 31 of 33 shots in regulation and overtime.
“I thought we fought hard,” Ruff said. “Big kill at the end of the third period, and I thought our overtime was probably our best of the year. But again, we found a way to give a point away or not earn the second point.”
The Stars could have ended it in overtime, but Cody Eakin fired the puck high with 1:17 remaining with Dallas in a three-on-none rush situation with Stephen Johns and Lauri Korpikoski also in on the play. The advantage resulted from Charlie Coyle falling down and losing the puck at the Dallas blue line.
“I didn’t even realize it was a three-on-none, to be honest,” Dubnyk said. “You just try to be as patient as possible. They got in pretty tight, so at that point, you just try to get over and see what happens.”
Pominville scored his eighth goal of the season with 6:25 remaining in the first period to give the Wild a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
After Patrick Sharp misfired from long range, Pominville collected the puck inside the Wild zone and had a two-on-one rush with Erik Haula on the opposite side. Pominville capped the sequence by wristing a shot from the right circle past Lehtonen.
“I thought this was his best game in a while,” Boudreau said of Pominville. “Today he was pretty solid everywhere.”
Dallas allowed the first goal for the sixth consecutive game, and the Stars are 1-3-2 in those games.
The Wild took a 2-0 lead 4:38 into the second period when Koivu scored a power-play goal from the right circle. Koivu’s 14th goal of the season came off a Nino Niederreiter pass from the slot after Niederreiter had received the puck from Mikael Granlund higher up in the Dallas zone.
Granlund increased his point streak to a career-best eight games.
Dallas got on the board at 9:38 of the second period when Seguin scored his 17th goal of the season from the left circle. Seguin one-timed a pass from Antoine Roussel into the back of the visiting net as Dubnyk was a touch late getting to the far post.
Eaves tied it with 20.4 seconds remaining in the second period with his team-leading 18th goal of the season while Dallas was on a five-on-three power play. After Jamie Benn’s attempted pass deflected off Marco Scandella’s skate, Eaves batted the puck out of the air to make it a 2-2 contest.
“We’re playing OK hockey, but we’re just not getting the results,” Benn said. “We have to have two points every night. That’s another tough one where we let a point slip away.”