NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The Minnesota Wild finally found a way to hold a third-period lead, and it came in a game where the referees made Bruce Boudreau’s team work a little harder by a blowing a call on a goal.
Kaapo Kahkonen made 32 saves in his NHL debut, defenseman Ryan Suter scored the winner early in the third period and the suddenly hot Wild beat the Devils 3-2 on Tuesday night in a game the NHL said New Jersey got credit for a goal that should not have counted.
The controversy centered on Jesper Boqvist’s first NHL goal. It tied the score 1-all in the first period and it was allowed to stand despite a challenge by Boudreau, who claimed the play should have been blown dead before the goal because Devils forward Wayne Simmonds played the puck with a high stick in center-ice and then played it again in the offensive zone without anyone else touching it.
During the third period, the NHL put out a statement saying a mistake was made
“I didn’t need the league to tell me they made a mistake,” said Boudreau, whose team blew third-periods leads in recent overtime losses to the Bruins and Rangers. “But they said the league made a mistake and that was it. We knew the rule and we called it and I was a little shocked when they said … I think they said it’s an unchallengeable thing.”
So not only did the Wild lose the challenge, they drew a delay of game penalty.
Boudreau said referee Brad Meier apologized for the mistakes at the start of the second period, and, in the end, the Wild were the better team.
Zach Parise and Jordan Greenway also scored as the Wild extended their point streak to seven games (4-0-3) while Kahkonen was solid.
“I think I’ll probably realize this a little later,” the 23-year-old Finn said. “I don’t really know how to feel right now. Obviously I’m really happy so I’m really happy so it’s good to build on this for sure.”
Besides the Boqvist goal, Kyle Palmieri tallied on a power play as the Devils continued to alternate good games and bad games. Louis Domingue, making his second straight start, had 26 saves.
“I don’t think there is a ton of bad things in our game. I just think we didn’t do enough,” said Palmieri, who has nine goals. “The scoreboard shows it. That was a team they were in the second half of a back to back. They hung on and defended and we couldn’t find a way to score.”
On the game-winner, Ryan Hartman won a faceoff and Ryan Donato found Suter in the left circle for a rocket over Domingue 3:00 into the period.
“You leave those last two games pretty down in games we felt we were in control and should have left with more,” Parise said. “But to end the trip with a win, you have to look at it and say it was a good road trip.”
The Wild took leads in each of the first two periods only to see the Devils tie the score each time.
Parise, who helped the Devils reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead 5:30 after the opening faceoff by tipping a power-play shot by Suter past Domingue. It came 4 seconds after Blake Coleman was penalized.
Boqvist tied it with his first NHL goal as his shot from the top of the right circle appeared to hit of the stick of Minnesota center Luke Kunin.
The challenge followed and Meier and fellow referee Mitch Dunning looked at the videotape and ruled it a good goal at 12:44.
“Since New Jersey’s Wayne Simmonds high sticked the puck in the neutral zone and then played the puck in the attacking zone, a missed game stoppage event occurred,” the league said in a statement released during the third period. “Minnesota’s challenge should have resulted in the New Jersey goal being disallowed.”
Greenway scored on a breakaway midway through the second period to put the Wild back in front.
A little more than three minutes later, Palmieri scored his ninth of the season, redirecting a cross-ice, power-play pass by Taylor Hall into an open net.
NOTES: Wild G Devan Dubnyk missed his fifth consecutive game because of a family issue. … The teams won’t play again until March 26 in Minnesota.
Wild: Return home for Black Friday matinee against Ottawa.
Devils: At Montreal to face Canadiens on Thursday.