The Minnesota Wild's upset hopes are very much alive after a 5-3 win over the Dallas Stars in Game 3 on Monday night. In a first-round matchup between two teams missing key players, Minnesota now trails 2-1 and seems to have found some answers for the Stars' speedy attack.
Things looked dire for the Wild early in Game 3 as Dallas struck quickly to take a two-goal lead. Just five minutes into the game, Patrick Sharp had already scored more goals (two) than the Wild had in the first two contests combined (one). Without key scorers like Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek, Minnesota seemed to be in serious trouble with a possible 3-0 hole looming.
Then came the waning moments of the first period and Chris Porter's magnificent deflection. Porter, a longtime journeyman who scored four goals in 61 regular season games, redirected a long-distance shot from defenseman Erik Haula past Kari Lehtonen with just 50 seconds left before the intermission. The crowd went bonkers following the tally, which set the tone for a surprisingly strong effort by Minnesota the remainder of the night.
The Wild scored the next three goals to take a 4-2 lead, and the Stars only made it close in the third period because of the postseason's latest controversial goal. Colton Sceviour scored on a bizarre deflection with just over seven minutes left in regulation, but Minnesota's John Torchetti called a coach's challenge for goaltender interference. Replays showed that a Stars forward bumped into goaltender Devan Dubnyk's left arm prior to the shot, but referees stuck with the call on the ice.
Dallas continued to push from there, eventually pulling Lehtonen with about 1:35 remaining. However, Jason Pominville scored an empty netter -- his second goal of the game -- just seconds later to clinch the win.
If you need to know just how impressive the Wild's effort was in Game 3, look no further than the shot totals. Even with the Wild leading the entirety of the third period, Dallas got just 17 shots on goal against Dubnyk all night. During the regular season, the Stars were tied for second in the NHL with 32 shots on goal per game. Minnesota can't really match Dallas' firepower, but the team did a stellar job limiting chances by the Stars' various shooters Monday.
That may be the formula going forward, and while Dallas remains in a good position with a 2-1 series lead, Minnesota has reason for optimism. We've got some excitement heading into Game 4.