The Minnesota Wild were 7.1 seconds away from a road win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night. But Mika Zibanejad found a juicy rebound in front of an empty net and buried it to tie the game 2-2 and send it into overtime.
In the extra period Mikko Koivu took his second tripping penalty in an 8.5 minute span and Erik Karlsson, the NHL’s top-scoring defenseman beat Devan Dubnyk shortly after the penalty was killed with 31 seconds left to play.
The Wild gained a one-point edge for the Colorado Avalanche for the eighth and final playoff spot, but knew they were close to earning two.
“We played a great 59 minutes and 50 seconds,” coach John Torchetti told the Star Tribune. “We let up for nine seconds. … We battled hard. Should have won 2-1.”
Minnesota struck first, with Nino Niederreiter scoring on a two-on-one 1:33 into the game, but the Wild went the final 12.5 minutes of the first without a shot.
Mike Hoffman tied it 1-1 in the second period, but the Wild took a lead on a Ryan Carter goal that he deflected into the net almost immediately after coming out of the box for a delay of game penalty five minutes into the third.
Spurgeon received the most praise from his coach, however, for his willingness to block pucks on the penalty kill, including one that saved a goal on a Zach Smith shot and three off of the stick of Zibanejad.
“You couldn’t give a better example of an athlete than what Spurgeon did for us tonight,” Torchetti said. “That’s team commitment. That’s what we need more of. Heart of a lion.”[Star Tribune, Associated Press]