Haula makes the difference as Wild beat Stars

Tue Apr 19, 2016 12:41am EDT
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(The Sports Xchange) - One game later than expected, the addition of Erik Haula to the Minnesota Wild lineup was a difference-maker.

Haula started the game at center and had a goal and an assist as Minnesota rallied from an early two-goal deficit to beat the Dallas Stars 5-3 on Monday in Game 3 of their best-of-seven first-round playoff series.

Jason Pominville scored twice while Chris Porter and Mikko Koivu also had goals for Minnesota, which had lost its previous six consecutive playoff games.

"That's what everyone feels like, that the series was over before it even started," Haula said. "We don't care if we're the only ones who believe we can beat that team. We're just going to go out there, battle for 60 minutes, give it all we've got and try to prove everyone wrong."

Devan Dubnyk had 14 saves for the Wild, who were the eighth seed in the West and now trail Dallas 2-1 in the series.

Patrick Sharp scored twice in the opening five minutes for the Stars, who had won the series' first two games in Dallas, holding Minnesota to just one goal in the process. But they could not hold the lead on Monday despite a 20-save effort from goalie Kari Lehtonen. Colton Sceviour added a late goal for the Stars, who are the top seed in the West.

"Give them credit, they played a good game, they played with a lot of speed and scored some timely goals," said Sharp, who played for Chicago last season when the Blackhawks swept Minnesota in the second round of the playoffs. "You could tell that they fed off the energy of their fans. It was a fun game to be a part of so we'll take what we can as far as positives from this game and be ready for Game 4."

Haula, who had missed the first game of the series with a lower-body injury, had a career-best 14 goals in the regular season, and has emerged as an offensive catalyst for Minnesota, especially with forwards Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek missing from the lineup due to injury.

"He gives us so much confidence on the penalty kill, down low, exits, speed, and that line really works well," said Wild interim coach John Torchetti, praising the line of Haula, Pominville and Nino Niederreiter. "They complement each other, they talk on the bench, they make adjustments as they go along, and they do a really good job. They play for each other, and that's why they're a very successful line."   Continued...

Minnesota Wild forward Erik Haula (56) skates to the bench after scoring in the third period against the Ottawa Senators at Xcel Energy Center. the Ottawa Senators beat the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports