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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Postgame: Wild beats Ottawa Senators on Mikko Koivu's latest winner

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: November 21, 2013 - 11:38 AM


Mikko Koivu’s winning goal with 2:57 left tonight lifted the Wild to a 4-3 win over Ottawa and as importantly helped the Wild forget a 6-2 pounding the night before in relatively nearby Montreal. Remember, Koivu won the Winnipeg game with a goal with 3:12 left.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Koivu and St. Louis' Alex Steen are the only two NHLers to score two go-ahead goals in the final five minutes of regulation this year.

Losses like Tuesday can be lasting if you don’t quickly brush it aside. The Wild, which has lost two in a row in regulation just once this season and that was more than a month ago, avoided that night tonight and improved to 11-2-2 in its past 15.

In the crazy West, the Wild hopped from eighth in the West to third with (32 points) and is one point behind Anaheim for the most points in the NHL (33). Of course, eighth in the West is now Colorado with 30 points, so it's not like there's a cushion (ninth is Vancouver with 26 points). The leader in the East wouldn't be inside the top-8 in the West (Boston with 29 points). As somebody joked with me on Twitter a few weeks ago, the East should just take a knee at this point.

The Wild's place in the standings is a little deceiving because the fourth through eighth teams in the West has played between one, two or three fewer games than Minnesota.

The Wild gave up a season-high 37 shots and lacked legs in the first period and had some sloppy moments, but the Wild certainly motored through it and pulled out a big W.

Jason Pominville (there was a scramble pregame amongst the media because the off-ice officials listed Pominville as a scratch even though he was in warmups; turns out the officials mis-read the lineup sheet submitted by the coaches, whether it be Pominville vs. Prosser or No. 29 vs. No. 39) scored a first-period power-play goal, Jonas Brodin scored a goal and assist for his first career multi-point game, Dany Heatley scored a goal and assist in the building that loves to boooooooooo him, Zach Parise had two assists, Justin Fontaine had his first career assist and Josh Harding made 34 saves one night after being pulled for the first time this season. Harding tied his career-high with 13 wins accomplished in 19 games (the other 13-win season in 2011-12 came in 34 games). He is also tied for the league lead with 13 wins.

Oh, and Koivu had three points – the 22nd 3-point game of his career – to continue a string of clutch performances by the Kaptain and his Linemates. Last four wins, that line has scored some huge goals, as I documented in the gamer on www.startribune.com/wild.

I’ll write a lot about Koivu in Friday’s paper. The much-maligned captain by many has been huge lately in leading this team. You know when it started? After Yeo split him and Parise and Koivu said he needed to contribute more. Coincidence or not, that seems to be the turning point. 

Heatley, one of the two Ottawa villains on the Wild roster (Matt Cooke is the other), played his fourth game against the Sens – third in Ottawa – since asking to be traded in 2009. He has a goal and five assists now.

He was appreciative of coach Mike Yeo having his back before the game. The Ottawa press corps peppered Yeo with questions about the former 50-goal scorer playing on the fourth line. Yeo deflected a bunch of questions, stuck up for Heatley, talked about how professional he has been about the whole thing.

He then followed it up with a goal and assist.

On Yeo sticking up for him, Heatley said, “I’ve known that from the time I got here. He’s a good man. I don’t really read what they’re writing. I haven’t been their favorite guy for a lot of years, so I don’t really care what they’re writing. But it is nice to know your coach has your back.”

He also let me know in joking fashion that this goal -- a whiff of puck, then a jam inside the post from behind the goal line -- was more of a "garbage goal" than his one in Montreal, a reference to the way I described his goal with 1.3 seconds left down 6-1 in Montreal. By garbage, I meant meaningless. It was a funny moment and proof positive again that every player is secretly on Twitter.

Yeo went on and on about the Wild’s leadership tonight. He talked about how the vets went out and helped lead the Wild to the W in response to last night.

“Internally, everyone knows it was pretty ugly last night, so it’s on us veteran guys and the captains to lead on the ice and not necessarily vocally, but play the right way and get back to what we were doing well,” Parise said.

Jason Zucker was called up to add speed and energy to a team that lacked it in Montreal. He skated with Mikael Granlund and Pominville, and although he had a couple near costly turnovers like many of his teammates, he had a decent game.

Yeo talked about the one turnover where Zucker didn’t shoot between the circles and tried to force a pass (almost identical spot as the Koivu goal, interestingly), but Yeo said Zucker’s speed was a factor and if he continues to play like this, he’ll make an impact.

Not much of a blog, but it’s after midnight, I’ve got a long drive back to downtown, I think I have a flat tire and an early flight.

Wild is off Thursday, so no blog unless there’s news. Rachel Blount is covering practice Friday in Winnipeg and the game Saturday in Winnipeg. I’ll be on Fox Sports North in studio Saturday before, during and after that game.

On here, you may next hear from me Sunday in St. Louis after practice.


Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 106 FINAL
Boston 101
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
Indiana 94
Portland 110 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Orlando 83
Oklahoma City 108 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Denver 92
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Florida 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Toronto 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Anaheim 3 FINAL
Dallas 1
St. Louis 5 FINAL(SO)
Vancouver 6
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 66 FINAL
Wake Forest 69
Oregon 73 FINAL
Stanford 70
Purdue 61 FINAL
Ohio State 65
Arizona State 81 FINAL
Colorado 87
Washington St 67 FINAL
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 49 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 56 FINAL
(13) Kentucky 67
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60


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