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ST. PAUL, Minn. – Mikko Koivu got the lone goal in the shootout for Minnesota, and the Wild beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on Friday night to avoid losing consecutive home games for the first time this season.
Koivu used a masterful left-right move to flip the puck past the Lightning's Andrei Vasilevskiy, who denied Jason Pominville and Zach Parise before and after Koivu. Brayden Point, who scored for Tampa Bay in regulation, Jonathan Drouin and Nikita Kucherov all went wide right with their shootout attempts against Devan Dubnyk.
Nino Niederreiter scored in regulation and Dubnyk made 26 saves for the Wild, who improved to 18-6-1 at home and rebounded from an overtime loss to rival Chicago two nights earlier.
Vasilevskiy stopped 37 shots for the Lightning, who were looking for their first three-game winning streak in nearly three months. They still picked up a point to start a stretch of four straight road games when they go two weeks between home games.
Vasilevskiy gave up four goals in a loss to Ottawa in his last start, but he fended off several prime scoring chances in the first half of the game — including a denial of Pominville's breakaway and Tyler Graovac's 2-on-1 try.
The 22-year-old Russian, who was Tampa Bay's first-round draft pick in 2012 and is in line to unseat Ben Bishop as the franchise goalie, gave up a long rebound on Mikael Granlund's shot that was set up by Pominville late in the second period. Niederreiter pounced on the puck and knocked in a backhander for his team-leading 18th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead.
Dubnyk let in a soft one to tie it about 2½ minutes later when Point posted up Nate Prosser and sneaked a deflection through the Wild defenseman's skates that slid between Dubnyk's pads too. Point didn't even realize right away that he scored, his celebration coming by delayed reaction.
With center Tyler Johnson scratched with an undisclosed injury after he departed the morning skate early, the Lightning were in the market for production from Point, who recently missed a month with an upper-body injury. He has three goals in five games since returning.
The absence of star center Steven Stamkos following knee surgery was a big blow, but the Lightning have tumbled to the bottom of the Atlantic Division after reaching the Stanley Cup finals and Eastern Conference finals the last two years. They were in a 3-9-2 stretch until beating Anaheim and Los Angeles on Saturday and Tuesday. Bishop shut out the Kings with 28 saves in a 5-0 victory.
Thriving under new coach Bruce Boudreau, the Wild have opened up a healthy lead in the race for first place in the Western Conference that they're trying to maintain. Boudreau gave them Thursday off between the first two games of a franchise-record eight-game homestand, but the skaters were sloppy and sluggish for much of the night following the extra rest.
The Wild put together some strong rushes late in regulation and outshot the Lightning 5-1 during the overtime period, including a couple of close-in opportunities for Parise, but they were forced into the shootout with a valiant effort by Vasilevskiy.
Lightning assistant Rick Bowness passed Scotty Bowman to become the league's career leader with 2,165 games behind an NHL bench as a coach. Bowness smiled and waved when he was acknowledged by the public address announcer and shown on the video screen in the third period. ... Pominville has 15 points in the last 11 games, leading the NHL during that span since Jan. 10. ... Lightning LW Alex Killorn, who missed the previous game with an undisclosed injury, assisted on Point's goal. LW Ondrej Palat also returned to the lineup after sitting out two games because of a lower-body injury.
Tampa Bay: The Lightning play at Winnipeg on Saturday night before going a full week before their next game at Dallas.
Minnesota: The Wild play their third of eight straight home games on Sunday afternoon against Detroit.