BC-HKN--Wild-Golden Knights,1st Ld
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Devan Dubnyk stopped 35 shots and the Minnesota Wild defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 on Friday night.
The Wild, who are four points back of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference, improved to 5-0-1 all-time against Vegas, including a perfect 3-0-0 at T-Mobile Arena.
Minnesota came into the game mired in a 3-6-1 slide, but fueled by a playoff hunt, opened the game with a 3-0 lead on goals by Greg Pateryn, Eric Staal and Kevin Fiala.
Dubnyk is 4-0-1 against the Golden Knights with a 1.80 goals against average against the second-year franchise.
Since a 10-1-0 run, Vegas is 0-3-1 in its last four games.
Despite the loss, the Golden Knights clinched their second consecutive playoff berth when Arizona lost in a shootout in Denver earlier in the night.
Paul Stastny scored both of Vegas’ goals, and Malcolm Subban made 30 saves. Subban dropped to 0-4-0 against the Wild.
Four teams sitting below the Western Conference playoff line - Arizona, Minnesota, Chicago and Edmonton - are within eight points of the second wild-card spot, currently held by Colorado.
Minnesota opened the scoring when Pateryn took the puck from his own zone, skated the length of the ice, breezed by Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb and threw the puck off Subban and into the net. Pateryn’s first of the season gave the Wild a 1-0 lead.
After positioning himself perfectly in the crease, Staal made it 2-0 when he deflected Jason Zucker’s wrist shot past Subban. Staal leads the Wild with nine points (six goals, three assists) in six career meetings with Vegas.
In the midst of traffic in front of the net, Fiala lifted the puck over Subban to make it 3-0 midway through the second period.
Stastny ruined Dubnyk’s shutout bid when he slammed home a rebound as a power play expired with two minutes left in the second period, then cut Minnesota’s lead to 3-2 when he jammed Max Pacioretty’s pass across the crease into the net with 13 minutes left in the game.
NOTES: Pateryn’s first-period goal ended the longest active goalless drought in the NHL at 130 games. The longest streak now belongs to Montreal’s Victor Mete at 116 games. ... The game marked the return of Brad Hunt, who was traded from Vegas to Minnesota after the Wild beat the Golden Knights on Jan. 21. ... The Twin Cities chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) announced the nomination of Wild D Ryan Suter for the NHL’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, presented annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Vegas’ chapter of the PHWA nominated Golden Knights C Ryan Carpenter.
Minnesota: Visits Arizona on Sunday.
Vegas: Visits San Jose on Saturday.