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Prosser comes through in Wild's OT win vs. Stars

The SportsXchange

SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- As of a few days ago, Minnesota Wild defenseman Nate Prosser bounced in and out of his team's lineup and went nearly two years without scoring a goal of any kind. On Saturday night, his overtime goal was his second game-winner in as many outings as the Wild beat the Dallas Stars 3-2.

Prosser snapped the rebound of right winger Nino Niederreiter's shot past Dallas goaltendeer Kari Lehtonen from close range for just the third goal of his career. He said it was an understatement to call this his biggest goal in the NHL.

"Yeah, by far. There's not many of them, so it's pretty easy to say," said Prosser. "It was a great day all around. As a team we're feeling good right now. Even though, like I said, they were kind of taking the play to us, we all knew on the bench if we stuck with it, if we stuck with the game plan, we were going to be alright."

Defenseman Ryan Suter, who did not have a goal as of Dec. 29, now has six goals in the last 11 games after he scored in the second period as Minnesota (27-19-5) won for the seventh time in the past nine games. Rookie left winger Erik Haula also got his first career goal for the Wild.

Center Ryan Garbutt and right winger Alex Chiasson scored for Dallas (21-19-8), which had a decided offensive advantage in all three periods, but has won just one of its past nine games.

Lehtonen had 16 saves for Dallas.

"His first shot is 10 minutes into the game and a tough play...I don't think they're easy for goalies but you can't make excuses either," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "You've got to get big saves at big times and that can turn the tide for you. You look at the work put into the game and you're happy with that, but you're not happy with just getting one point."

Dallas had six consecutive shots on goal to start the game and a decided offensive advantage throughout the first period but found itself trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes.

Haula, a rookie who was a star on the other side of the Mississippi River at the University of Minnesota last season, made a highlight reel play for his first NHL goal.

At the far blue line, Haula shipped the puck off the boards and around Stars left winger Erik Cole, springing himself on a breakaway. Haula's wrist shot from the left circle eluded Lehtonen to give the Wild an early lead.

"Something you dream about. It's a long time coming. It's something I've definitely been thinking about," said Haula. "It was unbelievable. The reaction from the crowd and a standing ovation ... it took me a while to kind of get over it and chills to go away, but it was unbelievable."

Later in the first period, Stars center Shawn Horcoff was assessed a double minor for high sticking, but Dallas held the Wild without a shot on goal during the four-minute span.

The Stars peppered Minnesota goalie Darcy Kuemper for much of the second period and broke through near the midway point of the game when Garbutt deposited the rebound of a long-range shot by center Vernon Fiddler that Kuemper had stopped.

Kuemper, making his fourth consecutive start in goal for the Wild, finished with 33 saves.

"He was awesome. Plain and simple," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "We were under siege a lot of the night but there were opportunities where he came out and made a play and relieved some of that pressure. When you see that kind of confidence, for sure your team feeds off that."

The 1-1 tie didn't last long. Suter's wrist shot from the blue line made its way through a forest of sticks, skates and bodies in front of the Dallas net and ended up over the goal line.

The Wild, already playing without captain Mikko Koivu and alternate captain Zach Parise, lost another key player for a time early in the third period.

Dallas left winger Andre Roussel, attempting to clear the puck near the Stars net, hit Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin in the face with his stick on the follow-through. Bleeding profusely, Brodin left the game. Roussel was not penalized on the play.

Brodin returned later in the third period and finished the game.

Dallas forged a 2-2 tie midway through the third period on a power play when Chiasson poked the puck over the goal line during a scramble in front of the Minnesota net. It was Chiasson's ninth goal of the season but his first since Dec. 3.

"It's been a while. You go through a phase where sometimes maybe you think too much. They say a lot has to do with confidence and I'll be the first to admit that," Chiasson said. "After that goal I felt so much more comfortable on the ice, just playing, finding spots that I'm used to getting. But it would have been better ending up with two points."

NOTES: On Friday, the University of Minnesota beat Ohio State 1-0 before a state-record crowd of 45,021 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. After the game, Gophers coach Don Lucia made a plea for the NHL's Winter Classic to come to Minnesota. "Quite frankly, the next team that deserves to play in this game is the Wild," Lucia said. "I think that our fans would really embrace that. Hopefully, the NHL will come here." ... The Stars brought 22 players on their two-game road trip, scratching RW Valeri Nichushkin and D Kevin Connauton, both of them healthy. For Nichushkin, it was just the second game he has missed this season. ... Saturday was the eighth annual Hockey Day Minnesota, with local television featuring 16 consecutive hours of high school, college and NHL coverage from various sites throughout the state. ... Dallas next travels to Nashville for a Monday game against the Predators, then returns to Texas for four in a row. The Wild have two days off before a rematch with the Stars in Dallas on Tuesday night.
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