Wild Edge Closer to Playoffs with Shootout Win, 4-3
AUSTIN, TX – Nick Swaney scored in the sixth round of the shootout to give the Iowa Wild a 4-3 victory over the Texas Stars on Saturday evening. The Wild had rallied from one-goal deficits three times in this contest before winning. Kyle Rau continues his hot run, scoring a goal and adding an assist. The victory moved the Wild within two points of the Stars for the fifth and final playoff spot in the division.
Frederik Karlstrom gave Texas the lead 7:04 into the contest. Joel L’Esperance moved the puck to Karlstrom at the left faceoff circle, who lifted a wrist shot past the blocker of Zane McIntyre to make it 1-0.
The one-goal edge held through the end of the first period, but Iowa tied the score on Joe Hicketts 10th goal of the season, just before the three-minute mark of the second. Mason Shaw passed the puck to Hicketts, who was heading toward the slot. The defenseman put a backhander just past the reach of Texas netminder Adam Scheel to tie the score at one.
With just under four minutes left in the second, Curtis McKenzie put the Stars back on top. Tanner Kero took a shot that McKenzie redirected past McIntyre for his 19th goal of the year.
For the second time in the game, Texas headed to a break with a one-goal lead and, for the second time in the contest, Iowa quickly tied the score coming out of the intermission. This time it was Rau knotting the game, scoring 44 seconds into the third. Brendan Miller blasted a shot the Rau redirected to the corner for his 21st goal of the year. For Rau, it was his fourth goal in his last three contests, and he has points in three straight games (4 goals, 2 assists).
The Stars retook the lead at the 12:44 mark. Riley Damiani moved the puck to Rhett Gardner, who picked up a burst of speed heading toward the net. As he moved in, he shoveled the puck past McIntyre’s outstretched arm to put Texas on top, 3-2.
The Stars had held one-goal leads heading to the end of the period in each of the previous two frames, but not this time, as Cody McLeod tied the score just 61 seconds after the Gardner goal. Nolan Stevens took a pass from Dakota Mermis before blasting a slap shot. Scheel made the save, but McLeod knocked in the rebound for his fourth save of the season.
The contest headed to overtime where Texas had a big opportunity to end it when the Wild took a pair of penalties that gave the Stars a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:13, but the Wild killed off both penalties to send this game to a shootout. Each team scored in the first round, but the next four rounds saw McIntyre and Scheel shine. In Round 6, Swaney delivered the game winner, securing the 4-3 victory.
The win moves the Wild to 28-27-8 (.508) while the Stars move to 27-25-12 (.516). These two teams will square off again on Sunday. The puck drops at 5:00.
By Robert Pannier