MINNEAPOLIS – Just one week ago, the Minnesota Wild were reeling from eight straight losses and the firing of their head coach.
So the scene on Sunday could not have been more surreal. They beat their biggest rival by five goals in a football stadium filled with 50,426 giddy fans for a season-best four-game winning streak.
Jason Pominville and Erik Haula each had a goal and two assists, and the Wild celebrated the first outdoor game in franchise history with a 6-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
“What a feeling,” Haula said. “First to get the win, and have the whole team play that well.”
With an ideal faceoff temperature of 2 degrees Celsius, the Wild turned the NHL’s 17th edition of open-air hockey into a romp past their postseason nemesis and primary rival at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.
The Blackhawks pulled goalie Corey Crawford for Scott Darling after 19 saves in two periods. Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Carter each added a goal and an assist, and Matt Dumba and Thomas Vanek also scored.
“Just getting that confidence back. It’s an amazing thing,” said Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, whose shutout pursuit was stopped by Patrick Kane’s Western Conference-leading 35th goal midway through the third period.
Ten players tallied at least one point for the Wild, including all three former Golden Gophers in Vanek, Haula and Mike Reilly, whose college careers took place across the street at Mariucci Arena.
Rangers 1, Red Wings 0 (OT)
In New York, Kevin Klein scored on a 2-on-1 break at 1:59 of overtime.
Penguins 4, Sabres 3
In Buffalo, rookie Scott Wilson sparked a two-goal second period and extended his goal streak to three games.
Ducks 5, Flames 2
In Anaheim, Ryan Kesler had two goals and an assist, John Gibson made 22 saves.
Lightning 4, Hurricanes 2
In Raleigh, North Carolina, Ryan Callahan scored twice and Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist.
Canucks 5, Avalanche 1
In Vancouver, Jannik Hansen scored twice, Ryan Miller made 37 saves and the Canucks beat Colorado.