Jason Pominville

Video: Pominville’s slap shot blast gives Wild win over Capitals


Jason Pominville’s first multi-goal game of the season couldn’t have come at a better time for the Minnesota Wild.

Pominville scored twice in the third period, including game winner on a wicked slap shot following a Washington turnover in the neutral zone, to give the Wild a 2-1 victory over the Capitals, who were without Alex Ovechkin due to a lower-body injury, on Thursday. The Wild have now won four straight, as they move to fourth in the Central Division.

“We’re a confident group,” Pominville told NHL.com. “We’re playing well. We’re doing a lot of good things. We’re getting great goaltending when we need it. You can tell we’ve improved our road record, and a big part of that is goaltending and confidence.”

Stewart to open with Vanek, Koivu in Minnesota


Upon acquiring Chris Stewart from Buffalo yesterday, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said the 27-year-old power forward would be able to play up and down the Minnesota lineup.

To start, though, he’ll be near the top.

Stewart will open on a line with Thomas Vanek and Mikko Koivu, head coach Mike Yeo told KFAN radio on Tuesday. The Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville line will remain intact, meaning the club’s other new forward — Sean Bergenheim — will play with Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle (Bergenheim had debuted on the Koivu-Vanek line.)

It’ll be interesting to see how Stewart fits with his new running mates. It’s clear by both his and Fletcher’s comments that the goal is to provide a physical element and more size; it’s also likely Stewart will be a net-front presence and feed off the offense generated by Vanek (who has nine points in his last 11 games) and Koivu (12 in his last 14.)

“Adding my size and my physicality to that lineup, I think that’s something they’re looking for,” Stewart said, per the Star-Tribune. “I’m a big guy, a power forward, I have some pretty good speed and I like to play a hard-nosed game and get in the corners there and on the forecheck and create turnovers.

“It’s going to be a great challenge. I look forward to it.”

Wild get Stewart as Buffalo-to-Minnesota pipeline continues


Jason Pominville, Matt Moulson and now, Chris Stewart.

For the third consecutive deadline, Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher has gone shopping for a forward in Buffalo — this time, he’s plucked Stewart in exchange for a second-round pick at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

Stewart, 27, has been on the trade block for over a year after arriving in Buffalo last season from St. Louis. A two-time 20-goal scorer, he’s got the skills and size (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) to be a quality power forward but has lacked consistency throughout his seven-year NHL career, and is now on his fourth team.

Stewart is a pending UFA, though, and should be motivated to play for a new contract on a Minnesota team that is fighting for its playoff life. Speaking of contracts, sounds like Buffalo will retain half of Stewart’s $4.2 million ($4.15M cap hit) in this deal:

It’s also worth noting that, in keeping with the theme above, the Wild also acquired Thomas Vanek in the offseason, though not directly from Buffalo — he went from the Isles to the Habs before signing with the Wild last summer.

NHL on NBCSN: Wild need two points from NHL-leading Preds


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Nashville Predators host the Minnesota Wild at the Bridgestone Arena at 8:30 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

Under normal circumstances, losing a single game against any team — even the lowly Edmonton Oilers — after winning 11 of 13 wouldn’t be an issue, but it is for the Minnesota Wild. Their midseason struggles combined with the increasingly competitive nature of the Western Conference Wild Card race has put Minnesota in a situation where it can’t afford to absorb many more setbacks.

So while a loss against the NHL-leading Nashville Predators would be understandable, it would also be ill-timed. The Wild should consequently have no trouble finding motivation tonight, but it will still be an uphill battle given Nashville’s near complete dominance at home. The Predators have a 26-3-1 record at the Bridgestone Arena while the Wild are mediocre 14-14-2 on the road.

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As has consistently been the case since he was acquired from Arizona, the Wild will likely lean on goaltender Devan Dubnyk. However, he’ll be backed by another reinforcement in forward Sean Bergenheim. The Wild acquired him from the Florida Panthers on Tuesday along with a 2016 seventh-round pick in exchange for a 2016 third-round selection.

Bergenheim spent six straight games in the press box before the trade and only averaged 14:09 minutes per contest even when he did play, but Minnesota is betting that he can bounce back if given the chance.

“I’m pretty happy with how I’ve played this season in the role I’ve been given,” Bergenheim told the Star Tribune. “But I know there’s a lot more energy in me to play a better role.

“I want to bring energy, I want to bring forechecking, I want to bring pressure in the offensive zone. I want to get the pucks to the net, get myself to the net, and hopefully score some goals. I think in that sense I can help the team.”

Jason Pominville will be another Minnesota forward to keep an eye on. He’s second on the team with 41 points in 60 contests, but he’s been held off the scoresheet for six straight contests and has finished without a point in 11 of his last 14 games. The Wild have excelled lately even without his normal offensive production, but at some point they’re going to need him to step up if they want to maintain their recent pace.

Given how effective Nashville has been, tonight might be the night Minnesota needs Pominville to bounce back.

Video: Kassian snaps Dubnyk’s 136-minute shutout streak


It was nice while it lasted.

Devan Dubnyk, the NHL’s reigning first star of the week, came into Monday against Vancouver action riding a shutout streak of 126 minutes and 39 seconds — one that got all the way to 136:57 before Zack Kassian scored his fourth of the season midway through the opening period:

Dubnyk’s streak began, ironically enough, against this same Vancouver squad. Back on Super Bowl Sunday, he surrendered a goal to Daniel Sedin with under seven minutes left in the final period, then posted back-to-back shutouts against Chicago and Colorado.

Kassian’s goal didn’t do much to slow down the red-hot Wild, however. They raced out to a 3-1 lead in the first period on the strength of goals from Jordan Schroeder, Jason Pominville and Nino Niederreiter.