Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Wild 4, Los Angeles Kings 3; Belanger has 3 points, including dramatic late winning goal

Posted by: Michael Russo under On the road, Wild game coverage Updated: December 29, 2009 - 1:07 AM

Eric Belanger scored so fast after Scott Parse tied the score with 2:37 left Monday night, I didn't even have a chance to have deadline coronary.

I calmly took my lead, cut and paste it to the top of my byline, put the cursor next to the dateline and was prepping to write a new lead about what looked to be a Wild meltdown. Then, Belanger scored, and I calmly put my cursor back above my byline, copied the original lead and pasted it right back to its original position.

Cool, calm and collected.

Twelve seconds. With the sellout crowd going loco, with the PA announcer blaring Parse's goal, the ghost of Eric Belanger shut the Staples Center up with the go-ahead and ultimate winning goal with 2:25 left a mere 12 seconds later.

I'll write his quotes in my game notebook Tuesday for Wednesday, but L.A.'s a special place for Belanger, and this was a special game for the longtime former King, who registered his seventh career two-goal game and seventh career three-point night.

The Kings valiantly fought back from a 3-1 third-period deficit to tie it, but then Jack Johnson never adjusted his game back to safe. He stepped into Cal Clutterbuck in the neutral zone, and it was a fatal mistake. Clutterbuck triggered a 2-on-1 and Belanger let 'er rip for the winner.

Clutterbuck had his first career two-assist game, or as he said, "I doubled my season total."

The Wild overcame a bad non-call by referee Brad Meier in the second period. Drew Doughty, on a rebound, lost his edge and slid right into Niklas Backstrom, lifting his pad off the ice and allowing the puck to go over the goal line. It was textbook goalie interference. Doughty inhibited Backstrom's ability to make the save. But it's a judgment call and not reviewable, and Meier felt differently.

That tied the score at 1-1 after Marty Havlat's second-period goal, but the Wild responded by overcoming the adversity and getting a power-play goal from Kim Johnsson and a late goal by Belanger. But Nick Schultz took a minor 45 seconds into the third, Johnson scored on the power play and the Kings looked like they were on a 20-minute power play from there.

The Wild, after a strong two periods, was on its heels the entire third, but Belanger helped the team snap a five-game losing streak to the Kings and move three points behind eighth-place Vancouver.

Havlat played a strong game after being benched in his first visit to LA this season. Look at the previous blog to find out perhaps why. The Wild won for the 10th time this month, tying a team record for W's in a month (March 2007).

--Johnsson has a goal streak for the first time since Jan. 2006. He was an even and hasn't been a minus since Dec. 7.

--This was the Wild’s seventh win when allowing 3 or more goals. Had 7 all of last season (7-25-5).

--Wild improved to 5-32-5 when allowing 3+ goals on road dating back to 2/20/08. Wild also takes over NHL lead from PIT with 15th 1-goal win. 25th one-goal game, which leads league.

--8-4-2 is the Wild’s record on the road since starting 0-8

--Antti Miettinen, snakebit since Dec. 9 (or when I wrote my Miettinen's red-hot story), fired nine shots on net, four that hit, one that was blocked, four that missed, including a post.

--Richards said the Wild will decide by the morning whether Josh Harding starts vs. Anaheim. The way the third was tonight as far as a workload for Backstrom, I've got to think we'll see Harding between the pipes.

Talk to you Tuesday morning.

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