Wild clinch playoff spot despite loss to Golden Knights
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Pavel Dorofeyev scored twice in regulation, including the tying goal with 34.2 seconds left to send it to overtime, and then had one of Vegas’ three shootout scores in the Golden Knights’ 4-3 victory Monday night that briefly kept the Minnesota Wild from earning a playoff spot.
Keegan Kolesar also scored in regulation, Jack Eichel and Reilly Smith also had shootout goals and Laurent Brossoit made 30 saves. The Knights, who beat Minnesota 4-1 in Las Vegas on Saturday, lead the Western Conference and Pacific Division with 103 points and already secured a postseason spot.
“It’s huge because these are important games for us,” Kolesar said. “For a team who wants to go the distance, we might be seeing these guys later on. So, for us, it’s taking care of business, home or away, whatever it may be.”
Matt Boldy had a goal and assist, reaching the 30-goal mark in his first full NHL season for the Wild, who clinched a postseason berth for the fourth straight season shortly after the game when Dallas beat Nashville 5-1. Minnesota is tied with Dallas atop the Central Division with 98 points.
“Listen, that’s our first step, right?” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “The way we played tonight as opposed to the other night, we were so happy with the way we played. Five-on-five, we were as good as we’ve been and we make a mistake at the end 5-on-6. We liked the way we came back from that game (in Vegas) and played a real strong hockey game.”
Brandon Duhaime and John Klingberg also scored in regulation, and Frederick Gaudreau and Joel Eriksson Ek had shootout scores for Minnesota. Filip Gustavsson stopped 23 shots in goal for the Wild.
Dorofeyev twice tied the game, with his first of the game coming in the second period before Boldy’s go-ahead goal late in the frame.
With Brossoit pulled and the Golden Knights trailing 3-2, the puck again found its way to Dorofeyev, who was wide open in front of Gustavsson and forced overtime. The Russian rookie has seven goals in 13 games this season.
“I just try to keep feeding him the puck because it seems like he’s got a lot of confidence right now,” said Smith, who assisted on Dorofeyev’s first goal. “He’s putting it in the back of the net.”
Minnesota’s surge up the standings, with points in 21 of 23 games, has come with leading scorer Kirill Kaprizov missing the past 12 games with a lower-body injury. Kaprizov has started skating on his own, and Boldy has filled the void.
The 21-year-old forward has six multipoint games in the 12 games without Kaprizov, scoring 13 goals during that span. He became the second player in franchise history with a 30-goal season at age 21 or younger, joining Marian Gaborik, the franchise’s first star who had two such seasons.
“Played a lot better than we played in Vegas, just staying above their guys and being smart with pinches and stuff like that,” Boldy said. “They didn’t generate too much off the rush, which is where their offense comes from. It’s a tough break to see them leave with two points.”
Smith returned to the lineup after missing four games with a lower-body injury and the original plan was to scratch Dorofeyev for a second straight game. Instead, Dorofeyev was back in the lineup with Chandler Stephenson missing the game due to an illness.
“Sometimes you get lucky, right?” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “That’s the way it works. So, it wasn’t our intention to keep Pav out for a long stretch here. We’re just kind of going from game to game, especially with guys coming in and out. … Pav goes in, so Stevie might have been first star tonight, if you follow my logic.”
DOWN A MAN
The Wild announced rookie forward Mason Shaw tore the ACL in his right knee in Saturday’s game at Vegas and will miss the rest of the season. Shaw had seven goals and 10 assists in 59 games for Minnesota this season.
Golden Knights: Finish a back-to-back Tuesday at Nashville.
Wild: Play at Pittsburgh on Thursday.
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