Cullen, Ennis lead Wild to 5-3 win over Islanders
NEW YORK (AP) — Matt Cullen and Tyler Ennis scored in Minnesota’s three-goal second period, and the Wild beat the New York Islanders 5-3 Monday.
Jason Zucker added two goals and Joel Eriksson Ek also scored for the Wild, who have earned at least a point in six of their past seven games (4-1-2). Devan Dubnyk stopped 32 shots.
Ross Johnston, Anders Lee and Tanner Fritz scored for the Islanders. Jaroslav Halak, coming off a 50-save shutout against the Rangers on Thursday night, finished with 27 stops.
New York began the day tied with idle Carolina with 64 points, but held the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference due to more regulation/overtime wins. However, the Hurricanes now hold the tiebreaker due to a game in hand on the Islanders.
Zucker beat Halak on the blocker side with a one-timer for his second of the game and 25th of the season with 3:22 remaining to push the Wild’s lead to 5-3.
New York outshot Minnesota 17-9 in the third, including skating with a 6-on-4 advantage over the final 1:23 with Halak pulled on a power play but couldn’t get anything past Dubnyk.
Trailing 2-1 near the midpoint of the second period, the Wild went ahead with three goals in a 4:12 span.
Cullen tied it as he skated in on a breakaway and beat Halak into the top right corner for his sixth at 9:54.
Zucker gave the Wild their second lead of the game with a one-timer from the top of the right circle with 7:43 remaining.
Ennis made it 4-2 as he skated in and put his shot through Halak’s legs from the right side for his eighth with 5:54 left.
Fritz pulled the Islanders within one with his first NHL goal, beating Dubnyk high on the glove side from the right slot with 3½ minutes remaining in the middle period.
Lee had given New York a 2-1 lead at 1:57 of the second as he tipped Thomas Hickey’s shot from the left slot out of the air and down past Dubnyk. It was Lee’s 30th of the season, tying him with John Tavares for the team lead and making him the sixth 30-goal scorer in the NHL this season.
The Wild got on the scoreboard first as Charlie Coyle’s rebound attempt of his own shot deflected off Eriksson Ek’s skate and in 7:02 into the game. It was Eriksson Ek’s second goal of the season, and first since opening night.
The Islanders tied it with 45 seconds left in the first as Johnny Boychuk fired a slap shot from the right point in front of the blue line and Johnston deflected it in front past Dubnyk. It was Johnson’s third goal in 10 games with New York after having three in 38 games with Bridgeport of the AHL.
NOTES: Zucker has 10 goals and three assists in his past 16 games. … Ennis had his third multipoint game of the season, and first since he had two assists against Florida on Jan. 2. … The Wild won the first meeting, 6-4 at home on Oct. 26. … Eriksson Ek’s goal ended the Islanders’ shutout streak at 140:15, going back to the third period of a 4-1 loss to Columbus last Tuesday night. New York had back-to-back shutouts against the Rangers on Thursday and at Carolina on Friday. … Islanders placed G Thomas Greiss on IR, retroactive to Friday, and called up G Christopher Gibson from Bridgeport of the AHL to be Halak’s backup. Greiss stopped 45 shots in a 3-0 win at Carolina on Friday night. … F Casey Cizikas played in his 400th game. … Halak has appeared in 23 of the Islanders’ past 27 games, including 22 starts. He is 9-11-3 in that stretch.
Wild: At New Jersey on Thursday night in the middle game of a three-game trip to New York that concludes against the Rangers on Friday.
Islanders: At Toronto on Thursday night to open a stretch of three straight road games.