DALLAS – Out of the nook of his eye, Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury noticed teammate Frederick Gaudreau.
As an alternative of going for a line change because the puck rolled into Wild territory, Gaudreau hung again behind the play — what ended up being the proper location to simply accept a go from Fleury.
“I guess it was a French sense,” Fleury mentioned.
After the netminder aggressively and astutely left his crease to whack away a throw by the Stars that clipped Kevin Fiala’s skate into the zone, Fleury arrange Gaudreau for an equally spectacular end: a rising shot previous a pair of Dallas gamers that sealed a 3-2 time beyond regulation win for the Wild on Thursday in entrance of 18,110 at American Airways Heart, giving the workforce its third straight victory.
This end result saved the Wild in second place within the Central Division with 9 video games left within the common season, its 98 factors tied with the Blues. However the Wild is forward for now as a result of it has performed one fewer recreation.
“It happens fast, but I kind of sensed that [Fleury] was looking up and his whole body was kind of looking like he was coming to me,” Gaudreau mentioned. “So I decided to take the chance and stay there.”
Gaudreau’s first profession time beyond regulation objective 1 minute, 40 seconds into the additional session capped a three-point effort, which matched his profession excessive. Fiala additionally had three factors after scoring twice on feeds from Gaudreau, and Fleury made 34 saves to associate with his second help of the season and first with the Wild to turn into the eleventh goalie in franchise historical past to tally one.
Fleury has 20 helpers in his profession, which is tied for first amongst lively goalies. The 37-year-old additionally moved into sixth place for many saves in NHL historical past (24,280) and minutes performed (54,087).
“His puck handling is elite,” coach Dean Evason mentioned, “and he made some great decisions and obviously a great pass at the end.”
Earlier than the Quebec natives related in time beyond regulation, the Stars rallied twice after falling behind early.
Fiala opened the scoring 2:14 into the primary interval after he accepted a Gaudreau go whereas crashing the web and deked the puck round Dallas goalie Scott Wedgewood.
“Great hands,” Evason mentioned of Gaudreau, who has set profession bests in targets (12), assists (24) and factors (36). “Good speed. Good playmaker.”
The objective was the Wild’s 264th of the season, eclipsing the earlier franchise document of 263.
That lead held till the second interval, when the Stars capitalized on their first energy play as Jason Robertson backhanded in his personal rebound at 6:02.
Dallas blanked on its subsequent two energy performs, whereas the Wild did not obtain any. However the workforce did convert shorthanded.
Gaudreau threaded a go to Fiala by two Stars gamers and Fiala skated in for a breakaway that he despatched over Wedgewood 11:36 into the second interval for the Wild’s second shorthanded objective of the season and the primary of Fiala’s profession. Wedgewood completed with 24 saves.
Not solely is Fiala third in targets on the Wild, behind solely Ryan Hartman (29) and Kirill Kaprizov (42), however he is additionally third in scoring with 68 factors. He has seven of these factors, together with 5 targets, throughout a four-game level streak.
“Kevin, you give him a pass close to the goalie and he can shake the goalie up with so many moves and he did that tonight,” Gaudreau mentioned. “It was just fun to give him the puck and see what he could do after.”
As earlier than, Dallas responded and once more Robertson was behind the comeback — this time scoring 55 seconds into the third interval on a shot that squeaked by Fleury.
“I wasn’t happy about it,” Fleury mentioned.
However the goalie was hermetic the remainder of the way in which earlier than orchestrating the game-winning play to enhance to 5-1 since a March 21 commerce from Chicago whereas debuting new gear after rolling out a Wild-themed masks on Sunday.
“Just try to put it behind,” mentioned Fleury, who is simply the second Wild goalie to help on an time beyond regulation objective. “Take a deep breath [and] try to relax because I know with this team, they’re just gonna keep the score close and our chance of winning is pretty good.”