ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Ryan Suter and the Minnesota Wild knew the importance of starting their seven-game homestand with a strong performance.
Minnesota had lost four in a row and was coming off a particularly deflating 7-3 defeat at Pittsburgh that included a lineup-card snafu that put them down a defenseman. To top it off, the Wild were facing the streaking Tampa Bay Lightning to begin their longest homestand of the season.
Suter scored his seventh goal, Zach Parise got his team-leading 17th and Minnesota snapped its losing streak with a 3-2 win against Tampa Bay on Thursday night.
“We knew we hadn’t played well,” Suter said. “Pittsburgh was a dud, and for us to get back on the horse and play the way we did shows how we’re capable of playing.”
Joel Eriksson Ek also scored and Alex Stalock stopped 18 shots for Minnesota.
Nikita Kucherov scored twice for Tampa Bay, which had won 11 of 12 games. Curtis McElhinney made 20 saves.
“We just didn’t play our way,” Kucherov said. “From the beginning of the game, it just didn’t feel like we were doing the right things. We (had) so many turnovers in the game that we usually don’t (have). We’ve just got to be better next game.”
Parise opened the scoring with the only goal of the first period by capitalizing against Tampa Bay’s typically stingy penalty kill.
Eric Staal took a feed from Jared Spurgeon in front and sent a blind pass behind him to Parise, who lifted the puck over a sprawling McElhinney. It was Parise’s team-high seventh power-play goal and he has three goals in the past two games after going 10 games without one.
The Lightning have allowed power-play goals in back-to-back games after going five straight with a perfect penalty kill. Tampa Bay has killed 88.3% of penalties since Nov. 1, the best mark in the NHL during that span.
Kucherov tied the game early in the second with a shot into an open net after a series of quick passes from Mikhail Sergachev and Ondrej Palat.
“The scoring’s dried up here the last few games,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Part of that is you’ve got to get pucks to the net. We’re just making games easy on the other team. There’s got to be a little more urgency in the offensive zone and get some dirty ones. We just haven’t been earning those dirty ones right now.”
The Wild answered five minutes later with Eriksson Ek’s fourth goal and took control 3-1 when Suter’s drive from the point sailed past McElhinney.
“I could see a difference,” Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said after giving the team a day off on Wednesday. “You never know what the reason is. Was it rest? Was it that they got ticked off and did what they did? But I do know this: When they play as 20 guys and they play hard and we get good goaltending, we’ve beaten almost all the best teams. If we don’t do that, we’ve struggled.”
Kucherov scored a power-play goal in the third, his sixth in as many games. He has three multi-goal games this season.
NOTES: Tampa Bay D Ryan McDonagh returned to the lineup after missing six games with an upper-body injury. Braydon Coburn was scratched. … Minnesota is 12-5-4 at home this season. The 21 home games are the fewest in the NHL. … The Wild have won five straight games against the Lightning and haven’t lost at home to Tampa Bay since Nov. 28, 2011. It’s the longest active home win streak against an opponent for Minnesota. The Lightning have their worst road-point percentage of any opponent against the Wild. … Suter has four goals and 10 assists in his past 16 games.
Lightning: Finish a back-to-back set Friday in Winnipeg.
Wild: Host the Dallas Stars on Saturday.
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