Alexander Shun | @alexpshun
Digital Content Manager | KFAN.com
It was a return to form for the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night as they played arguably their best game of the season - certainly their best game in the month of March - as they routed the Ottawa Senators 5-1, ending their four-game losing streak and bringing to a close the miserable month of March for Minnesota hockey.
The Wild were led by newly recalled goaltender and Minnesota native Alex Stalock who stopped 18 of the Senators 19 shots and led Minnesota to an easy victory.
"It was pretty special," Stalock said after the game. "There were a lot of family and friends in the building and finally wearing [a Minnesota Wild] sweater was really cool."
Despite being named the third star of the game, Stalock gave most of the credit to his teammates noting how easy they made it on him and how little he was tested due to his teammate's ability to limit shots for Ottawa.
With the win, Stalock became the eighth goalie to earn a win in his Wild debut, and from his time at South Saint Paul High School to his time at University of Minnesota-Duluth to his now debut with the Wild, the Minnesota native has always enjoyed playing in the friendly confines of the Xcel Energy Center.
"Maybe it's just so close to South Saint Paul that it makes easy with the short drive," Stalock joked. "It's fun winning here though, that's for sure every time."
Stalock was aided by a Wild offense that was unrelenting against Senators goaltender Craig Anderson, who allowed five goals on just 26 Minnesota shots, including two goals from the suddenly resurgent Nino Niederreiter who got Minnesota's first two goals, the second of which ended up being the game-winner.
"Yeah I mean obviously when you don't score it's tough as a goal-scorer, you get frustrated and it creeps in your game and that's tough on you mentally," Niederreiter said postgame. "When the first one gets in you start feeling loose again and then it's just a matter of time before you get the next one."
Minnesota also got a goal from another newly-recalled player: Joel Erikkson Ek.
'The Jewel' as many have nicknamed Erikkson Ek, received a nice backhand pass from Charlie Coyle and layed it up top shelf over Anderson's shoulder to get his third goal of the year with the professional club.
Matt Dumba and Jason Pominville added goals in the third period to seal Minnesota's victory and suddenly the team's four-game losing streak had disappeared. And while the win doesn't move them at all in the playoff chase, it does give them some momentum to build upon heading into the postseason, particularly on the defensive side of the puck as they held Ottawa to just 19 shots.
"I think that's what we have to do in the playoffs to be successful," Niederreiter said of his team's ability to block and limit opponent's shots. "Tonight I thought we did a good job defensively and, as you can see, the offense came."