Wild Douse Flames, Stretch Win Streak To 5
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Jared Spurgeon’s power-play goal in the third period helped the Minnesota Wild notch their season-high fifth straight win, 3-2 over the Calgary Flames on Monday night.
Kyle Brodziak also scored, rookie Darcy Kuemper stopped 21 shots during his 15th start in a row, and the Wild raised their record at home to 22-7-2.
Playing in front of their fans for the first time in 25 days due to the Olympic break, the Wild also improved to 14-4-2 since the new year began while welcoming captain Mikko Koivu back from injury.
Zach Parise gave the Wild some insurance by camping in the crease and deflecting a shot past Reto Berra with 5:16 remaining for his 21st goal. Just 77 seconds later, Mark Giordano scored to bring the Flames back within a goal. But Kuemper hung on to raise his record to 11-3-2.
Mike Cammalleri, playing perhaps his last game for the Flames with the NHL trade deadline looming on Wednesday, tied it 1-1 in the second period when Koivu’s pass ricocheted across the slot to him for an easy tap-in that Kuemper had no chance to stop.
Mikael Granlund had two assists while playing in the NHL for the first time against his brother Markus Granlund, who was called up from the AHL last week by the Flames.
After a scoreless, sluggish and penalty-free first period, the pace picked up in the first half of the middle frame when the Wild sent shot after a shot at Berra during a power play.
Minutes later with some momentum generated by the Wild, Matt Cooke swooped in behind the net to poke the puck away from the goalie. Brodziak crept toward the crease to corral the puck, avoided defenseman Kris Russell and knocked in his shot for the game’s first goal.
After Giordano hooked Parise to create a 4-on-4 situation, the Wild penalty expired to give them the man advantage. Then with Charlie Coyle screening Berra, Spurgeon capped some slick passing by taking the puck at the point from Ryan Suter and sending a slap shot through traffic for the lead.
The Flames, buried in the Western Conference playoff race, could make some moves this week. Cammalleri scored for the first time since Jan. 6. He missed nine games during that stretch because of a concussion.
With goalie Josh Harding out indefinitely with what the team has described only as an illness, related to his adjustment to multiple sclerosis medication, and Niklas Backstrom banged up, Kuemper has taken over effectively in the net. He has played so well that the Wild might not need to trade for a goalie before the deadline.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, as a guest of Wild owner Craig Leipold, watched from a suite.
Leipold took him earlier in the day to Target Field, where baseball’s Twins play, and TCF Bank Stadium, the football home of the University of Minnesota, for tours of possible outdoor game venues. The NHL put on six this season.
The Wild have long lobbied to host the Winter Classic, the original event held on New Year’s Day, but would take one of the Stadium Series games, too. Bettman said Leipold asks him “every day” about it. Bettman has assured the Wild they will be awarded an outdoor game but has not committed to a timeframe.
NOTES: Koivu missed 17 games, plus the Olympics for his native Finland, because of a broken ankle. Berra stopped 24 shots.
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