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Postgame: Wild rallies for another dramatic 'W'

  • Blog Post by: Michael Russo
  • November 1, 2011 - 10:42 PM

Entertaining game and finish down at the Joe tonight.

For the second time in five games, the Wild pulled its goalie, scored to force overtime and snagged that precious second point to get out of dodge with a big road win.

On Oct. 20, it was in Edmonton when Dany Heatley scored with 1.2 tics left with Niklas Backstrom on the bench. The Wild then won it in a shootout on Matt Cullen's third shootout goal of the season.

Tonight, with Josh Harding on the bench, Mikko Koivu snapped a 19-game goal drought with a minute left on a deflection of Justin Falk's shot to force OT. Then in OT, after Harding got the benefit of a pretty generous goalie interference call after Johan Franzen fell on top of him while he was way out of his crease, Devin Setoguchi scored 1:33 into overtime after pure determination from Koivu.

In the right circle, Koivu took a shot that was blocked. The puck went to the corner, Koivu got there first, fought off big Nik Kronwall with a shoudler to the face that knocked him down. THEN, as if that wasn't enough, Koivu skated alone through the right circle, into the slot and passed against the grain to Setoguchi, who popped in his own rebound.

You've got to love the irony of the Wild going 0 for 7 on the power play, but then ironically tying the game on a 6-on-5, then winning it on a 4-on-3. Power play went 1 for 8, and it will be the 1 it cares about.

Quite the finish in a game the Wild had to face an early furious storm from a ticked-off Red Wings squad that was attempting to open a six-game homestand by snapping a four-game losing streak.

The Wild’s starting five – Cal Clutterbuck-Kyle Brodziak-Nick Johnson-Nick Schultz-Marek Zidlicky – got pinned in its zone for the first 1:45 of the game. Detroit took the game's first eight shots and took a 1-0 lead on Nick Lidstrom's goal.

But the Wild got back-to-back power plays, and even though it didn't score, the Red Wings' flame was fanned.

From there, I felt the Wild started to find its game at 5-on-5. It had a number of chances and kept Detroit from any big threatening shifts until the last 10 minutes of the third period. If not for the power play killing momentum, the Wild could have actually made this thing a game before the last-minute comeback.

Josh Harding was again phenomenal, especially late. He had to stop Patrick Eaves on a breakaway, rob Lidstrom with a glove, the same type of stop he used to rob Justin Abdelkader. "Desperation saves," he called them.

This was actually Harding's fourth straight start against Detroit -- third this season. Like Greg Maddux used to have personal catchers in Atlanta, the Wild has a personal starter against Detroit.

But guaranteed in my opinion, Harding will get a third straight start Thursday against Vancouver. How do you take him out now? He's stopped 110 of 114 shots against the Red Wings this season (.965)!

Just huge kills late in the game by Harding and the Wild PK.

You've got to love this sport. How about Koivu getting the tying goal -- his first since March 20 -- on a redirection after getting cruelly robbed by Jimmy Howard a few minutes before on a point-blank shot in front of the net?

Coach Mike Yeo went on and on about Koivu after the game, quotes I'll try to come back with on Wednesday for a follow-up story for Thursday. But he was very good tonight -- other than his continued refusal to shoot in clear shooting positions on the power play.

For instance, on the 5-on-3, when he's in the circle and passes up a one-timer to feed to Pierre-Marc Bouchard at the side of the net. The 1:24 5-on-3 in the third period could have killed things. The Wild went scoreless, taking three shots. Most disturbingly was Dany Heatley, who's scored the most power-play goals in the league since 2001, standing at the net-presence guy on the 5-on-3. Heatley is a shooter. He's for years had one of the great shots from the circles in the NHL. 

Why is he there? Yeo said he'd look at that, schemes and personnel in an effort to fix the 26th-ranked 6-for-48 power play. But he stressed that in his mind, the power play won the Wild the game and that's what the Wild needs to build off of.

What else?

How about Justin Falk on the ice in the final minute down by a goal? If that doesn't show you the faith Yeo has in Falk, and how well Falk is playing in relief of injured Greg Zanon.

I thought all the defensemen were very good tonight actually. Marco Scandella continued to be good. I liked Nick Schultz's game. And Nate Prosser hardly looked out of place.

Other stuff:

Nine one-goal games out of 11 now (4-2-3)

The Wild's scored 21 goals in 11 games (1.91 a game, 30th in the NHL)

That was Setoguchi's first regular-season overtime winner after scoring three playoff overtime winners for San Jose

How good was Harding?

Talk to you after practice Wednesday.

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