ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Dallas Stars dug themselves out of a big hole against the Minnesota Wild. They’ve still got some work to do to get out of the Western Conference basement.
Loui Eriksson had a goal and two assists and the Stars overcame a two-goal deficit to beat the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on Wednesday night.
Down 3-1 late in the second period, Dallas tied it on goals by James Neal and Brad Richards, then took the lead when Eriksson tipped Stephane Robidas’ shot for the winner with seven minutes to play. It was Eriksson’s team-leading 10th goal of the season.
“Maybe this is a tide-turner,” said Stars coach Dave Tippett, after his team won for the first time this season when trailing after two periods. “We’re still a work in progress, but we got rewarded tonight for a little bit of hard work.”
Eric Belanger had goal and an assist for the Wild, who twice had apparent goals disallowed in the game.
Neal had a pair of goals for Dallas as the Stars won for just the second time in their last eight games. It was the third multipoint game of the season for Belanger.
“We needed it really bad,” said Neal, who has three goals in the four games he’s played since returning from a five-game stint in the minors.
“It was almost like life or death tonight, and we had a game seven mentality. We needed a win tonight and thank God we got it.”
Neal got Dallas on the board first, converting after a cross-ice pass from Eriksson. Minnesota answered just 1:08 later when Belanger scored off the rebound of a Brent Burns shot.
After Owen Nolan and Andrew Brunette scored to give Minnesota a two-goal lead in the second period, the Wild appeared to take a 4-1 lead on a power play shot by Mikko Koivu. Referee Tom Kowal emphatically signalled goal after the puck sailed over the left shoulder of Stars goaltender Marty Turco and hit the crossbar. The officials spent more than five minutes reviewing video of the play before Kowal ruled no goal, saying the puck had not crossed the goal line.
The Wild felt that the lengthy delay was more costly than the eventual call in terms of switching momentum to the Stars.
“It takes 10 minutes to decide a goal is not in, which we knew a long time before that, it wasn’t in, but we waited and waited,” Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. “You have the momentum you want to play. When you have the momentum, you don’t want to go for coffee.”
Neal recorded his first career multigoal game late in the middle period, swatting the rebound of his own shot out of the air in front of the Wild net. Early in the third period Minnesota appeared to take a 4-2 lead on another Koivu shot, but the net had come off its moorings, negating the play. Leamire said Turco has a habit of intentionally knocking the net off the moorings.
“I’m impressed he’s been paying attention to what I’ve been doing historically,” said Turco, who had 25 saves. “I have knocked it off before when I got bumped into it to be sure it’s off, but in this case I had no clue.”
For Minnesota, the greater concern was a recent habit of letting third-period leads slip away.
“We’ve had a few games that are disappointing, and they seem to be coming in bunches,” said Brunette. The Wild led Washington 4-0 on Monday before the Capitals rallied with three late goals, but Minnesota held on for a 4-3 win in that one. “I guess there should be (concern). We squandered one and got away last game, and tonight we weren’t so lucky.”
Niklas Backstrom had 26 saves for Minnesota, which lost a home game while scoring three goals or more for the first time since 2006.
Notes: Stars defenceman Matt Niskanen, who had been a healthy scratch for the previous two games, was back in the lineup on Wednesday. … Minnesota’s first period penalty for a faceoff violation was the team’s first such infraction since Dec. 10, 2002. … Since moving from the Twin Cities to Dallas in 1993, the Stars are now 8-6-1 in games played in Minnesota. … Dallas winger Sean Avery played in his 400th career game on Wednesday.