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Win Brings Wild Sighs of Relief

Burden of firsts simultaneously lifted from Vanek, Wild’s beleaguered PP

Wild F Mikael Granlund scored his first goal of the season in his 100th career NHL game against the Dallas Stars on November 1, 2014 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Burden of firsts simultaneously lifted from Vanek, Minnesota’s beleaguered PP

With the turn of the calendar, the Wild seemingly took the date to heart, checking off a few firsts of the season on Nov. 1.

In its 4-1 win against the Stars, three of the four goal scorers netted their first of the season. But wait, there’s more. Two of Minnesota’s four goals on the night were power play goals.

After going 0-for-28 on the power play, the Wild finally capitalized on its 29th man advantage as Thomas Vanek netted his first of the season from the doorstep of Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen. It was the proverbial monkey-off-his-back moment for Vanek who has been known for his scoring touch his entire career. His relief was visible from the press box.

“First of all, I’m not that much of a celebrator, unless it’s a really big goal,” Vanek said. “It’s just more of a relief than anything I guess. Even better that it was on the power play, as you guys know, we’ve struggled on the power play. It was nice to break my streak and break our team’s streak at the same time.”

“Even though it didn’t look like much, it felt great.”

Dallas Stars v Minnesota Wild

Minnesota’s Nino Niederreiter, defended here by Jamie Oleksiak of the Dallas Stars, scored the Wild’s second power-play goal of the season and his third of the year ovrall on November 1, 2014 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

So far this season the winger has displayed his playmaking abilities time and again, leading the team with seven assists on the season. To get his first of the season gift wrapped as a power play goal provided some relief for the whole bench. In fact, the Wild didn’t waste any time tallying its second power play goal of the season, as it capitalized the following opportunity, off of Nino Niederreiter’s stick.

“We were due,” Wild coach Mike Yeo laughed.

“I had a feeling when we got one, that game, we would get more than one, the way it was going. It relieves a burden, that’s for sure.”

While Vanek’s score gave the Wild a 3-1 lead at the time, it was Mikael Granlund who got things started. He put Minnesota on the board with his first of the year as he picked off a Stars pass in the offensive zone and sent the puck high glove side.

Defenseman Matt Dumba got the trend going, firing home his first of the season to give the Wild a 2-0 lead — though it only lasted eight seconds as Vernon Fiddler scored Dallas’ lone goal. The eight-second gap between goals by both teams sets a new franchise home record previously set at 0:10 by Mark Parrish (MIN) and Jonathan Cheechoo (SJ) on Dec. 31, 2007 (15:22 & 15:32 of the third) in a 3-2 loss to the Sharks.

Dumba’s goal marks the second year in a row he tallied his first of the year against the Stars as he netted his first career goal last season against Dallas on Oct. 12.

Darcy Kuemper made 19 saves to raise his record to 6-2-0 this season with a 1.62 GAA, a .930 SV% and an NHL high three shutouts while Lehtonen made 26 saves in a losing cause.

The Wild will play its final contest of a three-game homestand against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday at 7 p.m. CT on FOX Sports North and KFAN 100.3 FM.

Despite her Minnesota roots, Kelly readily admits it took her quite some time to realize her love for hockey. It wasn't until she was attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison that it hit her and though it may have started with Wisconsin hockey, she hasn't looked back since. After covering both the Wisconsin men's and women's programs through college for a campus newspaper, she spent the 2013-14 season interning for the Minnesota Wild. Her love affair with the game has given her the chance to cover a national championship, the WCHA Final Five and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Feel free to give her a follow on Twitter @kellymerickson.

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