So many times this season, Minnesota Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau has seen his team lead in the third period.
So many times this season, they’ve blown the games.
Not this time. Well, sort of.
The Wild (27-18-5) beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in a shootout. For a Wild team that’s struggled mightily on the road, the focus must be on the important two points, rather than the game-tying goal they surrendered and point they gave up to an Eastern Conference opponent.
“Regulation, overtime, shootout, whatever,” said Charlie Coyle. “Just get the job done and get the two points… it’s not always pretty.”
The victory was just the 10th of the season on the road for the Wild. They put a season-high 43 shots on net, outshooting the Blue Jackets (27-19-4) 43-30 in the game, including a 20-11 mark in the second period.
They got there with goals from Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle and shootout goals from Chris Stewart and Zach Parise, with the game-winner. Oh, and let us not forget about some of the spectacular saves by the goalies on both sides, Devan Dubnyk and Sergei Bobrovsky.
It even took extra frames of the shootout to decide a winner. Parise won it on his 100th career shootout opportunity; he has 41 career shootout goals and 13 have decided the game.
This one came on the backhand, beating Bobrovsky top-shelf.
Stewart kept the puck on the ice and scored. He’s 3 for 3 in shootouts this season and 12 for 27 in his career.
Dubnyk stopped 3 of 4 shooters; Artemi Panarin scored for Columbus.
The fast-start award did not go to the Wild, however. The Blue Jackets scored 1:16 into the contest to hold a 1-0 lead. David Savard got credit for the goal on a deflected shot. The Wild couldn’t get the puck out of the zone, and Ryan Suter turned the puck over behind the goal line to help set up the goal.
The Wild recovered from a slow start to have a much better second period, with the exception of about a five-minute stretch somewhere in the middle. They buzzed around and heavily outshot the Blue Jackets in the first few minutes of the second frame.
“The first 10 minutes of the second was the perfect little game,” Boudreau said.
The Wild tied the game after a Jonas Brodin shot found Zucker’s stick for a rebound goal as he crashed the net. Mikael Granlund got the second assist, his 25th of the season.
The goal brought Zucker to 20 for the season. He’s shown he likes to score in spurts this year; he has a goal in five of his past six games. He’s also riding a season-long seven-game point streak.
Other good opportunities for the Wild? Parise was denied on a breakaway, plus he had a wraparound chance and threw the puck right through the crease. Matt Cullen was perhaps the best Wild player on the ice, getting some of the best looks at the goal early on.
The Wild nearly grabbed a 2-1 lead right at the buzzer at the end of the second period. Unfortunately for Minnesota, Tyler Ennis’ shot went into the goal – just after the clock struck 0.0. Credit goaltender Bobrovsky for getting a big enough piece of the shot to slow the puck down just enough.
So, the game remained a 1-1 tie after 40 minutes as the momentum flowed like a roller coaster at the Mall of America.
It wasn’t the only controversial goal call of the night. The Blue Jackets thought they took a 2-0 lead in the first period on a deflected puck, but it was determined the puck was kicked in past Dubnyk.
Coyle was the third Wild player to put the puck in the net, and the second one to have a goal count. Just as Stewart jumped out of the penalty box and Coyle skated with the puck up the ice, they created an odd-man rush. Coyle took it himself, firing a shot away and past Bobrovsky.
“That was a tremendous shot,” Boudreau said. “We talk about him shooting the puck more, and he doesn’t do it. When he shoots, those are the things that happen.”
The Wild had a 2-1 lead with 7:50 left in regulation. Matt Dumba got credit for the assist.
Columbus, a solid team in its own building, came back a couple minutes later with a power-play goal from Panarin, the team’s leader in points. Dubnyk was screened and didn’t seem to see the puck. Boudreau unsuccessfully challenged the call for goaltender interference.
Panarin’s 13th goal of the season kept it a 2-2 tie. Joel Eriksson Ek had some chances, especially in the final minute of the third period. He’s still looking for goal No. 2 this season.
Overtime didn’t produce a winner either. Dumba fired a shot wide of the net with about two ticks remaining, looking for some buzzer-beating magic the team didn’t get earlier.
In the shootout, Coyle and Mikko Koivu missed their shots. Jussi Jokinen, Alexander Wennberg and Cam Atkinson’s shots were all stopped as well.
- Dubnyk (19-10-3) with 28 saves on 30 shots. Bobrovsky (22-15-4) with 41 saves 43 on shots.
- Foligno versus Foligno: The Wild’s Marcus had one shot on goal and two hits in 11:33 on the ice. His older brother Nick won 57 percent of his faceoffs, had one shot on goal, three hits, one blocked shot and one takeaway in 20:18 on the ice.
- Columbus defenseman Seth Jones got the second assist on the Panarin goal late in the third period.
- The Wild finished 7-2-2 in the month of January.
- Granlund’s assist on the Zucker goal was his team-leading 15th power-play point this season.
The Wild return home Friday night to face the Vegas Golden Knights.
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