Ryan Suter’s late shorthanded goal gives way to Jason Zucker’s overtime winner for Wild over Chicago
Wild center Eric Staal hung his head.
Despite staring down a mostly empty net with Blackhawks goalie Cam Ward pulled off to one side, Staal still directed the puck into Wards pads a missed opportunity that symbolized a rough debut for the teams scorers.
But when Staal received a do-over, getting another chance in-tight with a yawning cage, he buried it sparking the Wild to claw back for an eventual 4-3 overtime win Thursday in front of 18,652 at Xcel Energy Center that secured the teams first win of the season (1-1-1).
Winger Jason Zucker capped off the comeback with his second goal of the game 3 minutes, 25 seconds into overtime when he polished off a breakaway with a backhand shot this after defenseman Ryan Suter tied it at 3 with 23 seconds left in the third period while the Wild was on a penalty kill, a triumphant finish for the teams offense.
After managing just two goals in two games last week, the Wild used a four-day break in the schedule to try to ignite better looks around the net.
Coach Bruce Boudreau rolled out new lines and called for improved team speed to generate chances after the group put 51 shots on net in a season-opening 4-1 loss to the Avalanche and a 2-1 setback in a shootout Saturday to the Golden Knights.
And while the Wild did apply more pressure in the first period, it still tripped into a two-goal hole.
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews was the architect for both tallies.
First, he shrugged off defenseman Matt Dumba during a delayed penalty to set up winger Alex DeBrincat, who slung a shot by goalie Devan Dubnyk 10 minutes, 7 seconds into the period.
Just 2:43 later, Toews scooped up a blocked shot and fed his other winger Dominik Kahun for the goal.
Meanwhile, the Wild had plenty of looks at the Blackhawks net but it couldnt convert.
Leading the effort was Staal and Zucker, who had a handful of close calls before Staal blanked on his glorious chance near the end of the frame which ended with 16 Wild shots and another 12 that were blocked or missed the net.
But the execution the duo was lacking surfaced in the second amid a different setup, with Jordan Greenway joining the two in place of Joel Eriksson Ek.
At 13:19, Zucker sent a backhand pass through the crease and before Ward could recalibrate to the other post, Staal redirected the puck in for his first goal of the season which teed off a celebration that oozed relief.
Before the period was over, that line added another.
This time, Staal set up Zucker after collecting a Greenway pass and Zucker wired the puck by Ward with just three seconds to go to post his first of the campaign.
Zuckers goal came not long after a terrific save by Dubnyk on center Nick Schmaltz during a Wild penalty kill.
The Wilds fourth penalty early in the third period put the Blackhawks back on the power play, and they capitalized when DeBrincats one-timer eluded Dubnyk at 2:29 to reinstate the Blackhawks lead an edge it wouldnt relinquish. Chicago finished 1-for-5.
As for the Wild, it had just two looks with the man advantage and couldnt deliver on either to sit 0-for-7 on the season. Ward totaled 42 saves, while Dubnyk had 27.
Overall, the Wild made a season-high 72 shot attempts against the Blackhawks.