Eric Staal’s third-period goal gives shorthanded Wild 2-1 victory over Arizona
Missing its captain.
Down to 10 forwards.
Completing the second half of a back-to-back.
The circumstances surrounding the Wild on Tuesday werent user-friendly, but the team didnt shrink under the adversity.
Instead, it conquered it to corral just its second win of the season shrugging off the Coyotes 2-1 in front of 18,795 at Xcel Energy Center to improve to 2-2-2.
Center Eric Staal sealed the game-winning goal in the third period and amid a steady, 31-save showing from fresh face Devan Dubnyk, who was idle the night before, that was all the cushion the Wild needed to persevere.
Before it even took the ice, though, the Wild appeared to be in tough.
Arizona, which hadnt played since Saturday, was in the Twin Cities waiting for the Wild while it was upended 4-2 by the Predators Monday in Nashville.
And the challenge of playing two games in as many nights didnt get any easier once the team announced it would be without captain Mikko Koivu. He was with his wife Helena, who was in labor to deliver the couples third child.
With no extra forwards on the roster, the Wild dressed the only 11 available and inserted its lone reserve in defenseman Nate Prosser into the lineup.
But its manpower took another hit in the first period when veteran center Matt Hendricks left the action after getting tangled with Coyotes winger Brendan Perlini, who fell on Hendricks left leg pinning it on the ice.
Hendricks attempted to skate off but ultimately fell and struggled his way to the Wilds bench before going down the tunnel. He did not return, leaving the Wild with only 10 forwards.
And based on how the first period transpired, it looked like the team could use all the help it could get.
Despite some early pressure in the Coyotes zone, which culminated in a one-timer from winger Jason Zucker that rolled wide, Arizona opened the scoring on the power play when Perlini picked an open corner under the crossbar 13 minutes, 12 seconds into the period.
After that, the Wild faded but it did issue a response early in the second.
Only 3:40 into the period, winger Mikael Granlund tied it when he fooled former Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper in his first start of the season with a floater from just inside the blue line. Granlund has four points, including two goals, in his last three games.
The Wild had ample chances to take the lead after that; center Eric Fehr, after exiting the penalty box, set up Staal during a 3-on-1 rush, but Kuemper made a superb glove save.
He also got across in time to keep out a one-timer from winger Zach Parise and got in the way of a speedy cut to the middle by winger Nino Niederreiter.
Through two periods, Kuemper posted 17 saves.
Dubnyk, however, was even busier making 23 stops to help keep the Wild afloat.
And the players in front of him gave him a lead to work with when Staal who posted a game-high eight shots buried a loose puck amid a sea of bodies in front 6:18 into the third.
Kuemper finished with 26 saves.
The Wild went 0-for-2 on the power play, while the Coyotes were 1-for-3.