ST. PAUL, Minn. — In recent wins, the Wild came from behind and held on to prevail in offensive marathons.
But Saturday, the team tried out a different method — tightening up defensively — and it also worked — setting up a 4-1 victory over the Flyers at Xcel Energy Center in the finale of a three-game homestand that pushed the team’s point streak on home ice to 12 games (9-0-3).
The franchise record is 13, set Dec.27-Feb.13, 2018.
Center Eric Staal scored twice, jumping to 999 career points, and goalie Alex Stalock made 17 saves on 18 shots — the fewest the Wild have surrendered this season.
Philadelphia’s first shot was a successful one, a puck buried by James van Riemsdyk off a 2-on-1 rush only 1 minute, 34 seconds into the first period.
But after that, the Wild seized control.
At 6:16, winger Zach Parise tied it when he caught a piece of a Kevin Fiala wraparound. The goal was Parise’s team-leading 13th and counted as his 13th point in his last 15 games. Since Nov.14, Parise’s nine goals are tied for the sixth-most in the NHL.
Only 1:35 later, Staal tallied his first — sliding in a backhander while Flyers goalie Carter Hart was sprawled out of position on his belly.
Staal converted his second of the game, and third in the last two games, at 9:47 of the second when he put back a puck that pinballed around the front of the net before kicking out to him.
And with the Wild playing cleanly in their own end, that was more than enough cushion to hold off the Flyers.
Philadelphia had just three shots in the second before it made its best push of the game in the third, testing Stalock 10 times. At the other end, Carter Hart turned aside 24 shots.
Defenseman Carson Soucy tacked on an end-to-end empty-netter with 2:14 to go, the Wild’s second shorthanded goal of the season. Soucy has three goals and six points in his past six games.
But the Wild didn’t escape the night unscathed.
Center Joel Eriksson Ek didn’t finish the game, leaving in the second period after looking wobbly following a hit from the Flyers’ Sean Couturier.
And the power play remains in a rut, going 0 for 5 to sit 0 for 18 over its last six games. The Flyers went 0 for 3.
©2019 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)