Eric Staal's third-period goals give Wild 4-2 win over Golden Knights

Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Hockey

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- There was no epic collapse.

The parade to the penalty box was much shorter.

And admission to the front of the net was limited.

All the issues the Wild had earlier this week amid an eye-opening drubbing by the Jets on Monday in Winnipeg were fixed by Thursday, and the team was rewarded for the improvement -- piecing together a 4-2 win over the upstart Vegas Golden Knights in front of 19,084 at Xcel Energy Center in the Wild's first meeting with the NHL's newest team.

Center Eric Staal served up the deciding goal, breaking a 2-2 tie with 7 minutes, 55 seconds remaining in the third period -- his first gamer-winner of the season and team-leading 22nd point -- before also chipping in an insurance marker into an empty net with six seconds left.

This was the type of bounce-back effort the Wild needed to recalibrate.


A 7-2 wakeup call to the Jets not only put a magnifying glass on the inconsistency that's marred much of the Wild's season, but it also highlighted poor play through the neutral zone and defensive third that was leaving the Wild vulnerable when the Jets had the puck -- which was quite a bit.

The vibe against the Golden Knights was much more even; a hearty practice Wednesday probably helped spark the progress, as the team focused on those areas while also revisiting its backchecking strategy.

And tighter play debuted against Vegas, a team that has impressed this season for how competitive it's been in its inaugural season in the league. Entering the game, the Golden Knights paced the Pacific Division and became the first expansion team to debut 3-0 and first team to win eight of its first nine games in its first season.

After a scoreless first period, the two teams continued to trade chances in the second.


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