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Wild nip Lightning thanks to Kuemper
St. Paul, MN (SportsNetwork.com) - Darcy Kuemper stopped 34 shots and Dany Heatley netted the deciding goal early in the third period, as Minnesota escaped with a 2-1 decision over Tampa Bay at Xcel Energy Center.
Nino Niederreiter also tallied and Jared Spurgeon assisted twice for the Wild, who returned from a four-game road trip by halting a two-game slide.
"I liked the way our guys came into this game," Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo said. "You could tell they had the right focus defensively and execution wise."
Valtteri Filppula scored and Ben Bishop made 24 saves for the Lightning, who dropped three of four on their just-completed four-game road swing.
Heatley provided some breathing room for Kuemper, when he scored at the 34- second mark of the third. The goal was set up by Spurgeon, who stripped a Tampa player in the right circle and fed to the former 50-goal scorer for an easy tap in and 2-0 edge.
It was needed, as Filppula cut the Bolts' deficit in half at 13:53 by redirecting a low shot from Martin St. Louis.
Minnesota failed to pick up an insurance goal when Lightning forward B.J. Crombeen was sent off for roughing with 3:02 on the clock. Bishop was summoned to the bench for an extra skater with 1:27 remaining, but the Bolts couldn't find the equalizer.
"We worked harder (than the last game) we just didn't work smarter," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "That was a big problem."
Niederreiter deposited a Spurgeon rebound with 3:56 left in the opening period, just nine seconds into the game's first power play.
Kuemper turned aside 11 shots apiece in the first and second stanzas to ensure that slim margin held up.
Spurgeon returned from a 14-game absence due to a foot injury ... Kuemper upped his season record to 7-3-2 ... Filppula's goal was his 20th of the season, the second time in his career he reached the plateau (2011-12 with Detroit).
02/04 23:19:52 ET