As the Wild regrouped from a difficult 6-1 loss to the Bruins earlier this month, coach Bruce Boudreau made it clear his hopes for the team’s goaltending position.
“I’d like somebody to get this team on a roll,” he said.
Fast forward five games, and backup Alex Stalock has done that – helping the Wild to its fourth win in five contests since that post-break meltdown after recording a 26-save, 4-0 shutout win Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center against the Golden Knights.
Stalock has been in net for three of those four victories.
“He was really good tonight,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Really good.”
With winger Kevin Fiala and the Wild power play dominating this game, defensive highlights can become a footnote.
But one of Stalock’s saves helped pave the way for the offense to take over.
On an early power play, the Wild thought it scored when center Eric Staal’s shot caromed off the post and hugged the goal line before it was swept out by Vegas defender Brayden McNabb.
With the Wild celebrating and then confused as the play continued, Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith broke free for a breakaway that Stalock stopped to keep the game scoreless.
“I was like, ‘Well this is real. I better stop it,’ and got lucky,” Stalock said. “It got stuck under my pad, but I kept it out.”
Soon after, in the waning seconds of the power play, the Wild scored to go up 1-0 – a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“I thought Al was great from the first minute to the last minute,” Boudreau said. “They had that breakaway after that goal we thought was a goal, and we all stopped playing. That could have made the difference in the game right there.”
With the victory, Stalock improved to 10-2-1 in 15 games at home this season – a span in which carries a 2.14 goals-against average and .922 save percentage to go along with two shutouts.
“We’ve got to have both guys going the rest of the way,” Stalock said. “There’s no doubt about it and whoever it is each night, it doesn’t matter obviously. We have to give the team a chance to win.”
Boudreau called this game the best special-team performance by the Wild all season.
Not only did the Will survive all four Vegas power plays, but its power play was an impressive 3-for-4.
Clean zone entries are a factor in the surge, Boudreau believes, but so is Fiala.
He and defenseman Jared Spurgeon combined for a goal Tuesday after they tag-teamed on a pair Sunday in the 3-2 loss to the Avalanche. It marked the second time in Spurgeon’s career he’s scored a power play goal in consecutive games.
Overall, he has four points in his last four games.
And it was an unlikely candidate who got the power play surge going against the Golden Knights, with center Joel Eriksson Ek opening the scoring with his first career power play goal. With seven goals on the season, Eriksson Ek has already tied his career high from 2018-19.
New winger Alex Galchenyuk, acquired from Pittsburgh in the Jason Zucker trade, also got a look on the power play.
He ended up playing 12 minutes, 26 seconds in his debut and put one shot on goal.
“It was a lot of fun,” Galchenyuk said. “It was a long busy day. I'm happy it's over now, and we got the win.”