Spurgeon set up goals by right winger Nino Niederreiter and left
winger Dany Heatley in the Wild's 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay
Lightning on Tuesday night.
"It was nice to get back out there, especially before the (Olympic)
break," said Spurgeon. "The team's been playing great and I was just
trying to get in there and make sure I didn't ruffle any feathers
with the chemistry going on."
Minnesota goaltender Darcy Kuemper made 34 saves as the Wild
(30-21-7) won their fourth home game in a row.
Tampa Bay got 24 saves from goalie Ben Bishop, who seemed to
struggle with control of the puck throughout the night. Center
Valtteri Filppula scored for the Lightning (32-19-5), who have lost
three of their past four games.
"For a while in the game, we made it easy on them, but part of that
has to do with them for sure," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "We
made a push at the end. It's tough to come back down two with 10
minutes to go. We nearly did it, but I don't think it should've come
to that point."
Both goalies were tested early, with Kuemper stopping 11 shots in
the first period and Bishop denying Wild left winger Zach Parise on
a breakaway 15 minutes into the game.
Just a short time later, with the Wild on the power play, Bishop
knocked down a long-range shot by Spurgeon, but Niederreiter was
able to swat the puck into the net before the goalie could smother
it. It snapped a streak of a dozen games without a goal for
Niederretier, who will skate for Switzerland in the upcoming
"I saved it and went to cover right away," Bishop said.
"(Niederreiter) turned and it just so happened that he knocked it in
when he turned. It didn't take me long to get my glove on it and
he'd already knocked it in."
Parise had the best chance to double the Wild's lead in a scoreless
second period when his rising slap shot struck Bishop in the head,
stunning the goalie. After a brief stoppage, Bishop stayed in the
Heatley scored on the opening shift of the third period, tapping the
puck past Bishop at the top of the crease after a pass across the
goalmouth from Spurgeon.
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"He's such a smart player and we gave him enough time," said Wild
coach Mike Yeo, who had held Spurgeon out of the lineup on a recent
four-game road trip. "I think that a couple extra practices — it
was the right decision not to put him in in Calgary. He wasn't quite
ready. And obviously he looked good. He's taken really good care of
himself while he's been out. To be able to come in and play at the
level that he did tonight just shows you how smart of a player he
Filppula's goal, his 20th of the season, came when he redirected a
shot by right winger Martin St. Louis in front of Kuemper. After
Parise missed a shot at an empty net with Bishop pulled, the
Lightning had several chances to tie the score in the final minute,
including center Tyler Johnson hitting a post, but could not get the
"We had a good push at the end," Cooper said. "We probably caught a
break when their guy missed the open net at the end with the goalie
pulled, and they got a big break when (Johnson) missed an open net
at the other end. That's too bad, but we've just got to re-group."
NOTES: Lightning RW Martin St. Louis' assist in the third period
gave him 966 career points, moving him ahead of Montreal Canadiens
star Maurice "Rocket" Richard into 85th place on the NHL's career
scoring chart. ... Wild D Marco Scandella started the game on the
blue line but was injured early. Two minutes into the game,
Scandella was helped off the ice with an apparent lower body ailment
after getting skates tangled up with Tampa Bay C Tyler Johnson near
the penalty boxes. ... J.T. Brown started the game at RW for the
Lightning, playing his first game as a professional in his home
state. Brown, the son of retired Minnesota Vikings RB Ted Brown, was
the most valuable player in the 2011 NCAA Frozen Four when his
Minnesota-Duluth team beat Michigan in overtime for the title in St.
Paul. ... Wild LW Jason Zucker played college hockey for Lightning
assistant coach George Gwozdecky when the latter was head coach at
the University of Denver. ... The Lightning head back to Florida for
two home games before the Olympic break, hosting the Toronto Maple
Leafs on Thursday and the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. Minnesota
hosts the Nashville Predators on Thursday, then is off until a Feb.
27 game in Edmonton.
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