By Stephen Hunt, The Sports Xchange
DALLAS — Good teams find ways to win, and on Saturday against the Dallas Stars, the Minnesota Wild got the game-winning goal with 6:45 remaining off Jason Zucker’s right shoulder in a 5-4 win at American Airlines Center.
Zucker, who also had an assist, scored his 11th of the season after a pass from Mikael Granlund, who had two assists, deflected first off Kari Lehtonen’s stick and then off Zucker.
But since the goal was then knocked from its moorings, the play had to be reviewed. Following a short review, the goal stood since the puck had crossed the line prior to the goal being dislodged.
“You could call it luck, but he (Zucker) went to the net and he did the things you’re supposed to do, and when you do that, usually you get success,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Minnesota (27-9-5), which blew a 4-0 first-period lead, also got goals from Mikko Koivu, Eric Staal, Matt Dumba and Chris Stewart. Darcy Kuemper stopped 34 of 38 shots.
Dallas (18-18-8) capped a run of four straight goals when John Klingberg, who also had two assists, scored on a power play with 8:47 remaining, a wrist shot from near the Wild blue line that deflected in off Ryan Suter to make it 4-4.
Despite blowing their lead, the Wild maintained their composure.
“Yeah, that shows the resiliency we have as a group,” Zucker said. “Obviously, we don’t want to let in four goals at any point, but we still feel that we have the confidence to win those games. I think we showed that tonight.”
The Stars also got goals from Antoine Roussel, Jiri Hudler and Tyler Seguin, who added an assist.
Lehtonen stopped 26 of 28 shots in relief of starter Antti Niemi. Lehtonen left the ice with 1:00 remaining.
The Wild took an early lead when the puck deflected in off Stars defenseman Johnny Oduya 1:19 into the game. Koivu’s 13th goal came when his shot off a rebound first deflected off Stephen Johns and then off Oduya’s stick.
Staal made it 2-0 when he beat Niemi through his five-hole on a wrist shot from the right circle at 3:00 during a two-on-one for his 15th of the season.
Dumba gave the Wild a three-goal lead when he beat Niemi top shelf and far post on a wrist shot from the top of the right circle at 4:01 of the first period. Dumba’s seventh of the season ended Niemi’s night.
Lehtonen relieved Niemi, who departed after allowing three goals on three shots.
Stewart made it 4-0 when he scored on a tap-in at the near post 7:15 before the first intermission. Jordan Schroeder set up Stewart with a backhand pass and Stewart, left alone on the doorstep, easily scored.
Dallas got on the board with seven seconds left in the first when Roussel scored his seventh of the season on a wrist shot from the slot off the rush after a pass from Radek Faksa.
Minnesota led 4-1 after 20 minutes.
“If you look at the last two first periods (combined 6-2), our focus hasn’t been good enough,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “We dove in the neutral zone and gave (Eric) Staal his 2-on-1.”
Hudler made it 4-2 when he scored his second goal with the Stars 2:20 into the second period from the left circle off a pass from Devin Shore.
Seguin then scored his team-leading 16th goal of the season 6:06 into the second period, making it 4-3. Seguin scored off a rebound with a backhand after the puck hit his right skate.
Minnesota clung to that 4-3 lead after two periods.
“That’s what good teams do, is they have pushback,” Boudreau said. “They don’t allow the crowd or the other team to push right to a victory.”
Faksa had a great chance to tie the game 1:19 into the third, but his wrist shot at close range found the far post.