Wild turns snoozer into stunning overtime win

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 30, 2012 - 6:12 AM

The Wild played the role of spoiler for the Panthers, trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2000.

view larger photos

  

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

That's not for Jason Zucker, who became the eighth Wild player this season to make his NHL debut Thursday night. That was the sound most Wild fans made during a large chunk of Minnesota's snoozefest with the Florida Panthers.

But that was hardly the sound made in the waning seconds when Erik Christensen and Mikko Koivu rocked the Xcel Energy Center faithful out of its coma with an out-of-nowhere 3-2 overtime victory.

Christensen scored the tying goal with 30 seconds left, and Koivu scored his second career overtime winner 15 seconds in. The electrifying turn of events sent the Panthers -- who are trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2000 -- to Columbus reeling.

"It's not easy right now for us," Koivu said following a mostly disjointed game before the Wild won in OT for the first time since Devin Setoguchi scored in Detroit on Nov. 1. "Sometimes I don't care how you play if you just win the game."

Tomas Fleishmann gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead on a power play with 6 minutes, 44 seconds left. But with Niklas Backstrom, making his first start since a March 1 groin injury, pulled for an extra attacker, Christensen came off the bench and reached for Tom Gilbert's deflected shot off the post to force overtime.

"We did all the right things we should have been doing all game," Christensen said of the Wild's suffocating forecheck that had Florida on its heels.

Asked why he chose Christensen as the sixth skater, coach Mike Yeo grinned and said, "Scoring touch ... hunch ..."

Before fans even had a chance to settle down for overtime, Gilbert hit a darting Koivu on the tape at the blue line. The captain split two defenders and tucked a breakaway goal as he fell behind ex-teammate Jose Theodore.

The exciting finish was quite different than the majority of the game. There were so many stretches where nothing happened, you could hear the crowd audibly groan at times.

"I didn't like large parts of our game," Yeo said. "We were doing enough things well defensively, but we were playing pretty easy."

The Wild overcame a bad call that led to Scottie Upshall's power-play goal when Kyle Brodziak tied the game with his team-lead-tying 21st goal 1:03 into the third. Then, the Wild overcame Fleischmann's goal, which came after Warren Peters' penalty-kill clear didn't make its way down the ice because the puck hit a linesman's skate.

"You kind of felt like the life got sucked out of us. We were just sort of stunned," Christensen said. "But maybe looks can be deceiving."

Added Gilbert: "You can never have excuses. You've got to keep working through those. We just kept pushing."

Zucker, playing on a line with Christensen and Nick Johnson, became the 45th player to dress for the Wild this season and first Nevada-produced player in NHL history.

He was pranked before it started. Normally the starting goaltender leads his team onto the ice for warmups. This time, Zucker was at the front of the line. When Zucker ran onto the ice, Backstrom stopped. The rookie did a full lap before teammates joined him.

"I knew right away," Zucker said, laughing. "When they said you're leading us on the ice, I knew that wasn't right. I had to go with it. I wasn't going to tell [Dany] Heatley, 'No.'"

Zucker logged nearly 11 minutes, had three shots and got better as the game grew old.

"I was glad to get the first period under me, and I started playing a little more calm after that," he said. "I didn't expect to come in and score a hat trick my first game or anything like that."

  • related content

  • Clutterbuck looks to do more net crashing

    Thursday March 29, 2012

    One player struggling offensively is Cal Clutterbuck, who looked well on his way to his first 20-goal season when he scored his 10th goal Dec. 26. But he has scored...

  • Wild-Florida game recap

    Friday March 30, 2012

    1. Tom Gilbert, Wild: He set up Erik Christensen's tying goal and Mikko Koivu's OT winner.

  • Postgame: Christensen, Koivu spark Wild's unexpected rally

    Thursday March 29, 2012

    Out of nowhere, the Wild rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the final seconds to beat the Panthers in overtime

  • Mikko Koivu (9)

  • WILD 3, FLORIDA 2 (OT)

    Up next: 7 p.m. Saturday vs. Los Angeles • Xcel Energy Center • TV: FSN (100.3-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City 1 Top 5th Inning
San Francisco 0
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 57 4th Qtr 12:00
Toronto 63
San Antonio 39 3rd Qtr 9:24
Houston 56
Miami 54 3rd Qtr
Memphis 48
Minnesota 69 3rd Qtr 7:35
Chicago 77
Phoenix 19 1st Qtr 2:46
Utah 27
Sacramento 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Denver 9:30 PM
Golden State
Portland 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Dallas 2 3rd Prd 13:34
New Jersey 1
Tampa Bay 2 2nd Prd 7:57
Winnipeg 1
Vancouver 1 1st Prd 8:05
Colorado 0
Carolina 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Columbus 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 3 3rd Qtr 4:21
Cincinnati 20
Troy 6 3rd Qtr 11:27
South Alabama 10
BYU 0 1st Qtr 5:28
Boise State 10
(6) Oregon 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 2nd Half 44:55
Chicago 0
Montreal 23 2:31
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Wild player?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close