Jess Myers, The Sports Xchange, Published January 04 2014
Suter nabs hat tick in Wild's winST. PAUL -- Defenseman Ryan Suter's first career hat trick was the difference as the Minnesota Wild rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Washington Capitals 5-3 on Saturday night.
Suter scored a pair of power-play goals in the second period and added a third goal in the final period as Minnesota (22-17-5) won its second game in a row. Right winger Nino Niederreiter and left winger Jason Zucker also scored for the Wild, who lost their final six games of 2013, but have not lost since flipping the calendar.
Defenseman Mike Green had his first two-goal game of the season for Washington (20-16-6), which led 2-0 after one period, but fell to 0-6-1 all-time at the Xcel Energy Center. The Capitals are the NHL's only team to never win a game at Minnesota since the Wild entered the league in 2000. Center Marcus Johansson also scored for the Capitals, who held Minnesota to 11 shots on goal for the game, but got just six saves from goaltender Braden Holtby.
The Capitals opened the game with an 11-1 advantage in shots on goal in the first 20 minutes, and scored a pair of goals just 13 seconds apart to take a 2-0 lead.
With Washington on a power play, Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom knocked down a shot from the blue line by Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin, only to have Johansson pop in the rebound.
On the next shift, Green blasted a low shot from just inside the blue line that fooled Backstrom on the glove side. Left winger Dany Heatley had Minnesota's only shot on goal of the opening period.
The Wild's second shot of the game was much more productive, as Niederreiter flipped a puck over Braden Holtby's glove hand. Suter then blasted a pair of power-play shots from the blue line, both of which eluded Holtby, to give the Wild a 3-2 lead. Suter, who had not scored in the Wild's first 40 games of the season, now has five goals in the past four games.
Green tied the game for Washington when a long-range shot was off target, but bounced off Backstrom and into the Minnesota net. But Zucker scored his second goal in as many games for the Wild, and Suter scored again in the final period, this time on a 2-on-1 break with fellow defenseman Clayton Stoner.
Backstrom, who has been playing while Wild goaltending mainstay Josh Harding battles an illness, won his second game in a row with 25 saves.
Washington 2 1 0— 3
Minnesota 0 4 1— 5
First Period—1, Washington, Johansson 6 (Ovechkin, Backstrom) 12:02 (pp). 2, Washington, Green 4 (Chimera, Ward) 12:15.
Second Period—3, Minnesota, Niederreiter 8 (Coyle, Cooke) 2:16. 4, Minnesota, Suter 3 (Koivu, Granlund) 6:56 (pp). 5, Minnesota, Suter 4 (Koivu, Heatley) 7:38 (pp). 6, Washington, Green 5 (Laich) 13:50. 7, Minnesota, Zucker 2 (Ballard, Brodin) 17:04 (pp).
Third Period—8, Minnesota, Suter 5 (Stoner) 7:37.
Shots on Goal—Washington 11-10-9—30. Minnesota 1-8-2—11.
Power-play opportunities—Washington 1 of 2. Minnesota 3 of 5.
Goalies—Washington Holtby 13-11-2 (11 shots-6 saves). Minnesota Backstrom 4-9-2 (30-27).
A—19,022 (18,064). T—2:35.