ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Darcy Kuemper made 34 saves, Jared Spurgeon had two assists in his return from injury and the Minnesota Wild defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on Tuesday night.
Nino Niederreiter and Dany Heatley scored for the Wild, who are 6-3-2 in Kuemper’s 11 straight starts — a franchise record for rookie goalies.
Valtteri Filppula scored his 20th of the season for the Lightning, who got a strong showing from goalie Ben Bishop in a losing effort.
Minnesota welcomed Spurgeon back to the lineup after the defenseman missed 14 games with an injured left foot. But just 2 minutes into the game, the Wild had another setback on the blue line when defenseman Marco Scandella left the game after getting tangled up with Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson.
Scandella skated off the ice with assistance, favoring his right leg, and did not return.
The Wild struck first when Niederreiter scored his fifth of the season 9 seconds into a power play.
With Victor Hedman in the penalty box for boarding Jason Pominville, Minnesota controlled the faceoff and cycled the puck to Spurgeon in the left circle. Bishop stopped Spurgeon’s shot, but Niederreiter got his stick on the rebound and slid it under Bishop’s glove before the goalie could cover it.
Bishop, who finished with 24 saves, was tested often throughout the first two periods, stopping Zach Parise on a breakaway with 5 minutes to play in the first period and stoning Mikael Granlund on a point-blank backhand early in the second. Bishop was shaken up midway through the second when Parise fired a slap shot that hit the goalie in the head, but he remained in the game.
Meanwhile, Kuemper kept it 1-0 with a nifty glove save to stop Johnson on a breakaway late in the second.
After a scoreless second period, Minnesota struck in the first minute of the third to double its lead. Spurgeon stole the puck in the Lightning zone, muscled it down the right boards and centered it to Heatley, who redirected it past Bishop for his 11th of the season.
The Lightning pulled within a goal with just more than 6 minutes to play when Filppula tipped in Martin St. Louis’ pass at the goalmouth.
Tampa Bay buzzed around the net the rest of the way, but Kuemper stopped Alex Killorn and St. Louis from in close, and a Lightning shot hit the crossbar in the final 30 seconds.
NOTES: Filppula returned after missing Saturday’s game at Montreal with a lower-body injury. ... St. Louis’ assist gave him 966 points, moving him past former Canadiens great Maurice Richard into 85th place on the NHL’s career list.