DES MOINES, Iowa – For 40 minutes on Monday afternoon, fans at Wells Fargo Arena must have thought they were attending a goaltending clinic as the Texas Stars and Iowa Wild combined for just one goal through two periods. However, that all changed in the third, as the Wild went…well…wild, scoring four goals to twice erase one-goal deficits on their way to a 4-2 victory. Brennan Menell recorded two assists and J.T. Brown added a goal and an assist to lead the Iowa offense. Kaapo Kahkonen earned the victory with 39 saves.
For the first 40 minutes, the only goal was tallied by Jason Robertson, 14:38 into the contest. Nicholas Caamano had the puck just inside the Iowa blue line along the boards. He fired a wrist shot on net that deflected off Tanner Kero and right to Robertson. The deflection caught Kahkonen off guard, who was leaning the other way in net. Robertson simply tucked the puck into the near empty net for his 14th goal of the year to give the Stars a 1-0 lead.
The Wild put a lot of pressure on Texas goaltender Jake Oettinger, peppering him with 24 shots through the first two frames, but came away with nothing. Kahkonen was nearly as brilliant, stopping 20 of the first 21 shots he faced.
Finally, 19 seconds into the third, the Wild’s hard work paid off. Brown led a relentless Iowa forecheck as he forced an errant pass that was picked off in the neutral zone. Eventually, Brown gained control of the puck in the Texas end. He passed it from behind the net to Kyle Bauman in front. His initial shot was saved by Oettinger, but the rebound came right back to Bauman. He simply put the rebound over the Stars’ goaltender for his third goal of the year, tying the score at one.
Six minutes later, the Stars retook the lead. Much like their first score, a broken play led to a goal. Caamano’s shot hit off a body and right to Joel Kiviranta, who knocked the puck in for his 11th goal of the season. The busted play gave Kahkonen absolutely no chance to make a play, as Iowa found themselves trailing once again.
However, the Stars lead held for less than a minute. At 7:01, the Wild were on the power play. Sam Anas had the puck along the boards. He saw Kyle Rau crashing the net from the opposing the faceoff circle, sending the perfect feed that Rau stuffed in for his 10th goal of the year.
Brown had been a thorn in the side of the Texas Stars all game, and that continued as he gave the Wild the lead exactly two minutes after the Rau tally. Keaton Thompson passed the puck out of his end to Brown just before he entered the Texas zone. Brown sped down the boards about 10 feet, then swooped toward the slot, firing a wrist shot that Oettinger got a piece of. But, the puck came out of his glove and bounced across the goal line to put Iowa on top. For Brown, it was his sixth goal of the year. He finished with a goal and an assist in the contest.
With a little over two minutes left in the game, Gerald Mayhew scored an empty-net tally to seal the victory. For Mayhew, it was his AHL leading 27th goal of the year and made for a great return after sitting out the last couple of games with the flu. Mayhew tied his single season high for goals set last year, and has done it in less than half as many games (35 this season, 71 last year).
The Wild head to Michigan to take on the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday night. The puck drops at 6:00 CT.
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