Ryan Hartman was aiming up high on the left side of the net, and that's where the puck sailed even though Hartman had his back toward Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy when he accepted Kirill Kaprizov's pass — turning for the shot and picking up his head just before the release.
"I know I almost beat him there early that period," Hartman said. "He just barely caught a piece of it. So, I was definitely going to that side."
Just as impressive as the execution of the play was the timing of it.
Hartman snapped a third-period tie to help the Wild run away from the defending back-to-back Stanley Cup champions 4-2 on Sunday afternoon in front of 17,785 at Xcel Energy Center. It was his team-leading 12th goal, third in as many games and fifth over the past six.
"It's not like he's getting bounces in," coach Dean Evason said. "He's shooting it in a specific spot, and it's going in the net. It's great to see him, clearly, get rewarded. But it's great for the team to get rewarded the way that he's playing."
After Hartman scored 9 minutes, 15 seconds into the third, Marcus Foligno added an empty-net goal with 17 seconds to go on the heels of a defensive clinic by the Wild that included no shots on net from Tampa Bay during the final 3 ½ minutes and three blocked shots. Two of those belonged to Matt Dumba.
Goaltender Cam Talbot had 28 stops, and the Wild improved to 2-0 on this five-game homestand while winning three in a row overall.
"They were real committed," Evason said. "We had great blocks, good sticks. Yeah, we were really happy."
That the Wild tallied one goal let alone three against Vasilevskiy was an accomplishment.
Vasilevskiy was coming off back-to-back shutouts but had his streak nixed at 141:29 when Nick Bjugstad cruised through the neutral zone and into Lightning territory before sending the puck through a narrow opening between Vasilevskiy's left shoulder and the top corner of the net at 11:03 of the first period.
"Just a tremendous shot," Evason said.
Tampa Bay retaliated on the next shift, with Corey Perry also capitalizing top shelf only 48 seconds later, but the Wild finished the period ahead 2-1 after Victor Rask pounced on a loose puck in front at 16:28. Rask went from being a healthy scratch to drawing in the lineup with Mats Zuccarello sidelined after taking a slash to the hand in a 7-1 victory over Winnipeg on Friday.
In the second period, the Wild had a chance to grow its lead during three power plays but the team failed to convert. Instead, the Lightning was the only side to score in the second — a shot through traffic by Alex Killorn at 9:24. Tampa Bay also went 0-for-3 on the power play.
That equalizer by Killorn paved the way for someone to be the difference-maker in the third period, and once again Hartman seized the opportunity against Vasilevskiy, who totaled 33 saves.
"Every time he touches the puck in the slot, you kinda figure it's going in," Bjugstad said of Hartman, whose three-game goal streak is tied for the longest of his career. "He's a great player, and he's really finding his way here in the Wild sweater."
Only Edmonton's Leon Draisaitl (six) has more game-winning goals than Hartman's four, which ties his career high from 2016-17 when he racked up a career-high 19 goals with Chicago.
The 27-year-old center is on pace to shatter that mark and has produced at a point-per-game pace since Nov. 6 with 12 points in 12 games. Only eight NHLers had more goals than Hartman after the Wild played Sunday — a group that features the likes of Draisaitl, Washington's Alex Ovechkin and Edmonton's Connor McDavid.
"He earned everything that he's getting," Evason said. "The ice time that he's getting, the special teams that he's getting, he's earned that by the way that he's played the game in all aspects of it — defensively, offensively, physicality, committed to his faceoffs.
"He's earned the right to put himself in that spot, and he's getting rewarded because of it."