Wild's wild rally falls short in Montreal

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 2, 2012 - 7:55 AM

The Wild lost Niklas Backstrom just minutes in, then rallied late in regulation only to lose in a shootout.

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MONTREAL -- The first three minutes?

It couldn't have gone worse. The Wild took a double-minor, a third minor penalty, gave up one 5-on-3 goal and was on another long one when it lost its No. 1 goaltender, Niklas Backstrom, to what looks like a serious lower-body injury.

The last four minutes? It couldn't have gone better.

Trailing 4-1, the Wild shocked the partying, ole'ing Bell Centre fandom when it scored three times in the final 3 minutes, 53 seconds to force overtime with the Canadiens. It eventually lost the shootout, and the game, 5-4.

Matt Kassian, who entered with no goals in 20 career games, sparked the comeback with his second goal. Dany Heatley scored 2:10 later before Devin Setoguchi tied the score with 9.8 seconds left.

"That was quite a game," coach Mike Yeo said. "It's too bad we couldn't get that second point because I'm really impressed and happy with the way we battled in that third period. We overcame a lot of adversity."

David Desharnais scored the lone shootout goal against Josh Harding as Matt Cullen, Heatley and Setoguchi missed. Setoguchi lost the puck when it stopped short after he stick-handled it outside the Zamboni scrape done after overtime. He then slipped and fell to the glee of the crowd.

"As soon as you stop, it's over anyways, but I just decided to do it with a little more flare and fall," Setoguchi said. "It's frustrating. I mean, you have a chance to keep the game alive and something like that happens."

It never would have gotten to that point if Setoguchi hadn't scored by gathering Matt Cullen's pass from behind the net at the far post.

That came instants after Heatley picked off what looked to be goalie Carey Price's attempted rink-long toss at an empty net. Price said he was actually trying to pass to Tomas Plekanec up the middle of the ice.

"I saw him try to go up the gut. I got lucky it bounced by [Erik] Cole," Heatley said. "If he was going for the empty net, I think he should have got a little more on it. I don't think that would have made it down there."

The Wild got off to a terrible start when Jed Ortmeyer was nailed for four minutes for high-sticking, then Justin Falk held Cole.

P.K. Subban scored on the 5-on-3, and 19 seconds later on the second 5-on-3, Backstrom made a right pad save on Cole. He immediately went down, slapping the ice in pain before falling in the crease.

Unable to put any pressure on his left leg, Backstrom was helped off by medical trainer Don Fuller. Yeo offered no specifics on the injury or extent of it, but GM Chuck Fletcher told CBC it's not a short-term thing.

The rally came after the Wild's power play fell short five times, including on a shortened three-minute major after Ryan White ambushed Stephane Veilleux and two abbreviated two-man advantages.

But after Max Pacioretty and Desharnais gave the Canadiens a 4-1 lead, "Kass gave us life," said Heatley. Kassian's second goal came on Nick Johnson's rebound -- one of his three assists.

"You can't credit my two linemates [Darroll Powe and Johnson] enough. They had fantastic games," Kassian said.

The Wild kept coming, and the Canadiens were on their heels dramatically.

Finally Heatley scored his 20th goal by following up his own rebound. Yeo pulled Harding, and then Setoguchi struck.

"Our forecheck was really strong in the third period, and our cycle game, we controlled the puck a lot and with that created a lot of momentum and gave us that belief," Yeo said.

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