Josh Harding was solid but Wild struggle to score, fall to Tampa Bay
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Steven Stamkos scored a tiebreaking goal with 5:04 left in the third period and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Thursday night.
Stamkos gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead when he skated in from the right wing boards and lifted an in-close shot over goalie Josh Harding during a 4 on 4. Sami Salo added an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Mikko Koivu scored for Minnesota, which was coming off a 4-1 loss at Toronto Tuesday night in which the Wild outshot the Maple Leafs 37-14. Harding, who entered with an 0.94 goals-against-average, made a pad save on Stamkos during a two-man breakaway late in the second.
Koivu tied it at 1 from the low left circle at 11:05 of the third.
Tampa Bay, which entered with the NHL's sixth-best power play, took advantage of its initial chance when Johnson scored from the left circle at 14:02 of the first.
The Wild, who started play with the league's second-worst short-handed unit, have given up at least one goal while the opponent had the man advantage in seven of eight games this season.
Tampa Bay captain Martin St. Louis was in the lineup two days after taking a shot off his skate during a 5-1 victory over Los Angeles. The right wing was wearing a walking boot on his right foot earlier Thursday.
"Tests were to a point where, whatever damage is done, he can't do anything worse to it," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "It's a pain tolerance thing."
- Minnesota D Keith Ballard, hit in the face by a puck during Monday night's game at Buffalo, sat out his second straight game "(He's) not feeling well," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "More than anything else this is preventative."
- Wild G Niklas Backstrom was the backup after missing the previous four games due to a knee injury.