WASHINGTON — Filip Gustavsson made the save of the game by seeing the puck out of the corner of his eye just before it went into the net. His Minnesota teammates scored three goals by making sure Washington goaltender Charlie Lindgren couldn’t see the puck at all.
Captain Jared Spurgeon scored twice, fellow defenseman Jonas Brodin also had a goal with traffic in front of the net, and the Wild beat the Capitals 4-2 on Tuesday night to extend their winning streak to three games.
All three goals came with a big forward setting a screen in front of Lindgren: 6-foot-6 Jordan Greenway on Spurgeon’s first goal, 6-2 Ryan Reaves on Brodin’s and 6-2 Brandon Duhaime on Spurgeon’s second.
“We had a lot of great screens, guys going to the net and creating havoc down there,” Spurgeon said. “They’re great screens. The goalie can’t get out of the net, and you cut the angles down and you can’t see them as well. It’s something we preach all the time.
As Gustavsson pointed out, it’s hard for a goaltender to stop a shot he can’t see. He made the highlight of the night on Marcus Johansson with under four minutes left, kicking the puck from one heel to the other with his skate blades while it was on the goal line and preventing it from crossing it.
“I don’t know how it didn’t go in, but that’s how it goes sometimes, I guess,” Johansson said.
Gustavsson, who finished with 34 saves, did not do it accidentally.
“You need to stop it somehow,” he said. “You just try and figure out how to move that part of your body.”
Big bodies blocking Lindgren’s view compensated for the Wild being outshot 36-22 by the Capitals, who were playing the second half of a back to back after rallying to win in overtime Monday at the New York Islanders. The Wild erased multiple deficits in this one and sealed it with an empty-netter from Joel Eriksson Ek to get their road trip off to a strong start.
“Hopefully, we can keep that momentum going,” coach Dean Evason said.
Gustavsson was excellent all night, validating the coaching staff’s decision to start him instead of going back to three-time Stanley Cup winner Marc-Andre Fleury. His 12 saves in the first period alone kept the game within reach for Minnesota despite putting just three shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes.
Alex Ovechkin assisted on Capitals goals by Martin Fehervary and Dylan Strome, who ended a four-game point drought. Washington has lost four of its last six games, going 0 for 13 on the power play during that stretch.
“Like everything through the course of a long season, it goes through peaks and valleys and times when it is clicking and it is rolling and times when it was not,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “We will continue to work on it, and we know we got the right guys out there.”
— Minnesota’s Connor Dewar had two assists for his second multipoint game of the season and third of his NHL career.
— Capitals center Nic Dowd will be out for “a bit” because of an undisclosed lower-body injury coach Peter Laviolette said.
— Winger Anthony Mantha was a healthy scratch for Washington for the third time in five games, replaced by Aube-Kubel. Center Evgeny Kuznetsov was demoted to the fourth line after a rough game Monday night on Long Island.
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