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 caps Hockey Day Minnesota in exhilarating fashion

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: January 19, 2014 - 10:13 AM

UPDATED WITH VIDEO EXPLAINING WHY JAMIE BENN WON'T BE SUSPENDED

What an incredible way to end Hockey Day Minnesota.

The largest crowd at Xcel Energy Center this season (19,192) was sent off in the night by Elk River’s own, Nate Prosser, who scored his first career overtime winner one game after scoring his first game-winner.

Against the team that used to call Minnesota home, the Dallas Stars, Prosser scored off Nino Niederreiter’s rebound after Charlie Coyle’s muscle move behind the net to win a battle and free himself of Alex Goligoski.

It was just the perfect end to a day that saw Hockey Day Minnesota hosted inside the pit that Prosser grew up playing in.

Prosser, who wears a smile on his face pretty much 24 hours a day anyway, was walking on air after the game. He said he couldn’t believe what just happened and coach Mike Yeo joked that he’ll be the next mayor of Elk River.

Read the game story at www.startribune.com/wild for all the quotes and details.

As I told you the other day, I sat down with Prosser on Wednesday and have a profile planned on him for Tuesday’s paper.

Lots of great efforts tonight by the Wild.

The team was outshot 35-19, yet Darcy Kuemper made 33 saves and improved to 4-1 in his past starts with a 1.36 goals-against average and .954 save percentage.

Erik Haula made a great play to create a breakaway for himself en route to his first NHL goal. Read the gamer for his quotes.

Ryan Suter scored a goal, blocked six shots, had two shots and two hits.

Prosser, Marco Scandella and Haula combined for nine blocked shots.

Jonas Brodin, who took an uncalled high-stick (refs called it a follow-through by Antoine Roussel; I hate this stupid rule), had three takeaways and an assist on Suter’s goal after a great play by Torrey Mitchell. Brodin returned to the game after bleeding profusely from the nose.

Kyle Brodziak had a strong game and had three hits. Matt Cooke had an assist, three hits and two shots.

Cooke also looked to be elbowed in the head in overtime by Jamie Benn. No call amazingly. We’ll see if the league reviews it, and if the league does, he could face a suspension in Tuesday’s rematch at Dallas.

Regardless, it was dirty. A launch into Cooke up high with the elbow. Here's the GIF courtesy of Sean Gentille of Sporting News.

UPDATE: The NHL views this as a protective maneuver, I'm told by the league. Basically, it could have conceivably been a penalty but doesn't rise to the level of supplemental discipline. Here is the rationale: Considered a defensive contact to the head. Here's the video explaining.

Personally, I don't see how this is a protective move. Looks to me like Benn takes opportunity to tattoo Cooke. With a rematch in Dallas on Tuesday, let's hope cooler heads prevail.

One has to wonder also if Cooke would be given the same benefit of doubt if he was skating with the puck and decided it was time to "protect himself" and paste Benn in the head.

Wild has won seven of nine now and just continue to ride high despite the loss of big guns Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu, defenseman Jared Spurgeon and goalie Josh Harding.

Impressive to say the least. The Wild has the day off Sunday, meaning barring news, no blog.

I’ll write a follow on Kuemper, who had some awesome stuff to say after the game about how well Niklas Backstrom is treating him throughout what could be an awkward few weeks.

Talk to you Monday after practice.

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