Minnesota Wild fans saw him take 107 of these shots. With a success rate of less than 40 percent, it’s a wonder anyone got so excited anytime he skated to center ice for his try in a shootout.
Yet, in the wake of Mikko Koivu‘s sudden retirement, here we are.
Any fan reading this knows what this story is about: Koivu’s bread-and-butter shootout move, which graced the game-deciding skills competition for years.
Fans knew what was coming when Koivu stepped up. His teammates knew what was coming. The opposing goaltender even knew what was coming after a few years. The deciding factor was that everyone on the ice and in the stands knew the result of the shot was entirely up to Koivu himself.
He didn’t use the move exclusively in his more than 100 shootout tries, but it made up a significant number of them, especially the successful ones. When the shot failed to find the net after he pulled forehand to backhand just outside the crease, it wasn’t often a glove that stopped it; more often Koivu just sent the puck too high and missed entirely. He wielded this power over goalies throughout the league over 15 years, resulting in 42 total shootout goals.
Eighteen of them were game-winners.
Through the years and many deployments of this trademark move, there are three moments that stand above the rest.
Jan. 9, 2010: Minnesota 6, Chicago 5
This game isn’t known for Koivu’s shootout attempt. The improbable victory came in the midst of the Wild’s years of futility before Zach Parise and Ryan Suter arrived, with the Chicago Blackhawks on their way to the Stanley Cup Championship. They came back from a 5-1 deficit to win one of the most entertaining regular season games the Wild have ever played.
Guillaume Latendresse scored the game-tying goal in the third period. Owen Nolan put the Wild ahead before Josh Harding shut the door to seal the game. Koivu, though, was the first shooter in that overtime period and was the only other Wild skater to score in the overtime. Guess how he scored…or watch the video of it below.
Though it’s the only goal on this list that isn’t a game-winner, it’s an important piece of Koivu’s shootout legacy and a thrilling victory.
April 8, 2014: Minnesota 4, Boston 3
The franchise’s second-most memorable playoff run through 20 years happened in 2014, with this shootout victory coming right near the end of the regular season campaign.
Despite a lackluster stretch in the middle of the season, the Wild capped off the regular season with victories in four of their last five games to finish as a wild card team and face the top Central Division team that year, the Colorado Avalanche.
Koivu entered this shootout with two assists in the game already, but this time it was his turn to score.
Dec. 1, 2019: Minnesota 3, Dallas 2
Koivu knew when to step up and seize a moment. After all, this was his 1,000th career NHL game, he already had his career and legacy established as a steady, highly-respected captain.
To say Ben Bishop should have seen it coming is an understatement.
Even if Bishop did know it was coming, Koivu has plenty of experience making it seem otherwise. Koivu, who entered the shootout with an assist in the game, skated out fourth round after two players on each side scored in the first three rounds to keep the game knotted.
Have a favorite Koivu shootout moment? Let us know in a comment or a tweet to @10KRinks on Twitter.