ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Jared Spurgeon spent a month watching the Minnesota Wild from the press box. When he returned to action Tuesday night, he didn't waste any time making an impact.
Spurgeon had two assists in his return from injury, Darcy Kuemper made 34 saves and the Wild defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1.
One of Minnesota's top defensemen, Spurgeon was placed on injured reserve Jan. 4 after he hurt his left foot against Buffalo. While the Wild went 8-4-2 in his absence, they were eager to get him back in the lineup — and he was eager to get back into the flow.
"I think there's lots of adrenaline that helps you," Spurgeon said. "At the start I was a little nervous being off for a month, but they threw me right out there for the opening shift and that helped me really calm down and get my feet wet for that first one."
Spurgeon got started early, setting up Nino Niederreiter for his fifth goal of the season 9 seconds into a power play in the first period. Early in the third, Spurgeon helped the Wild double their lead when he fed Dany Heatley in the slot for his 11th.
Spurgeon ended up playing 21:12, third-most among Minnesota defensemen.
"He's taken really good care of himself while he's been out," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "To be able to come in and play at the level that he did tonight just shows you how smart of a player he is."
The Lightning pulled within a goal with just more than 6 minutes to play when Valtteri Filppula tipped in Martin St. Louis' pass at the goalmouth for his 20th of the season. Tampa Bay buzzed around the net the rest of the way, but Kuemper stopped Alex Killorn and St. Louis from in close, and Tyler Johnson's shot hit the post in the final 40 seconds.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper was hoping to see a little more fire out of his club at the end of a 1-3 road trip.
"I don't know how much courage we had going to the net tonight, until the end," Cooper said. "Hence, it's shocking where our goal was scored, standing right in front of the net."