Staal Skate-Off Goal Gives Wild Win in OT, 3-2
DES MOINES, IA – It was only his second game with the Iowa Wild on Saturday, but Eric Staal is making his presence known with the club, scoring in overtime to provide the skate-off goal, giving Iowa a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Wolves. It was the second goal in as many games for the NHL veteran, whose goal helped give Iowa their second straight victory over the Wolves. Hunter Jones earned the victory, stopping 27 shots.
Neither team could light a lamp in the first period, as Chicago outshot Iowa, 11-7. Jones was on top of his game, making a number of great saves through the first half of the frame, as the Wolves dominated much of the early part of the period.
In the second, the Wild began to get the better of the play and grabbed a 1-0 lead. Nick Swaney made a nice move at the blue line, splitting between two defensemen before feeding Kyle Rau at the left post. Rau made a perfect deflection past Chicago netminder Alex Lyon for his ninth goal of the season to give the Wild the lead a little less than nine minutes into the period.
That lead held through nearly 15 minutes of the third period, but Chicago scored twice in the span of 1:26 to take the lead. The first came at 14:32, when Max Lajoie sent the puck around the boards to the back of the net. There, Stefan Noesen stole the puck from the Wild defenseman, came out in front on a wraparound attempt that was stopped by Jones. However, Noesen was able to collect his own rebound and put it in for his 16th goal of the year.
Just before the 16-minute mark, David Gust put his team on top. The Wolves were able to maintain control of the puck inside the Wild zone. A battle ensued in the corner where Maxim Letunov gained control, feeding it to the face-off circle where Gust blasted a one-timer by Jones for his seventh tally of the year.
Chicago had turned the tables but, just 31 seconds later, Marco Rossi tied the score. Mitchell Chaffee took a shot from the high slot that Lyon saved, but Rossi jumped on the loose puck, putting it in for his eighth goal of the year.
That sent the game to overtime, where Staal needed just 76 seconds before giving the Wild the victory. Staal gained control in his own end, leading a 2-on-1 break into the Chicago zone. Staal waited patiently, looking like he may go across the slot to Adam Beckman, but then lifted a wrist shot past Lyon for his second goal in as many nights. The game-winner now gives the forward two goals and an assist in his two games with Iowa.
With the victory, the Wild moved to 14-13-4, .020 points behind Rockford for fourth place in the Central Division. The team is off until Monday afternoon when they will take on the Milwaukee Admirals at 2:00.
By Robert Pannier