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 loses in overtime to Buffalo, moves from 11th to 9th

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: March 6, 2011 - 9:48 PM

Wild rallied from a 2-0 deficit to get a point tonight, but it couldn't secure the other when Prior Lake resident Drew Stafford punched Minnesota in the gut with a quick OT winner 46 seconds in. He drove wide of Brent Burns, then brushed off Burns' check and says he basically used the check to push off and beat Jose Theodore with a nice winner.

Because Nashville and Anaheim lost, the Wild moves from 11th to 9th -- one point behind LA, which has played one fewer game.

But the Wild can't take solace in one pointing its way north in the standings anymore, not when you've lost two straight home games and recently didn't show on Long Island.

Other teams are creating distance higher in the standings. Teams like Phoenix are rallying from 4-1 down at home to beat Detroit. Teams like Dallas are walking into San Jose and beating a Sharks team that had won eight in a row.

On a night Nashville and Anaheim lost, the Wild wasted a chance to get two points by coming out sluggishly for the second straight home game.

Nice rally, yes. Good point, yes. But the Wild can't afford to throw points away, not when they're about to go on a tough four-game trip, not when teams like Nashville have opportune schedules coming up (12 of final 15 at home).

In my mind, 96 points gets you into the playoffs. 95 maybe. The Wild has 75 points, meaning to get to 95, it'll have to win 10 of its final 16 games. To be safe, 10 1/2 to 11.

Mikko Koivu is seeing the doctor again Monday, so we'll find out soon if he's closer to a return. He has been skating on his own. Read the notebook. Gui Latendresse doesn't appear close to a return. And now Cal Clutterbuck is out with an upper body injury. Again, read the notebook for further details.

Warren Peters did a nice job tonight. Won 6 of 7 faceoffs, scored his third career goal to spark the comeback, had four shots and five hits. Brad Staubitz was good, too, throwing his weight around and assisting on Peters' goal. They provided the energy.

But the Wild still has to work like heck to score. It had enough to chances to score tonight. Again, the finish isn't easy though. The Wild's 3-3-2 without Koivu. Andrew Brunette and Antti Miettinen are lost souls without him. Brunette has no goals in 12 games, Miettinen none in 11. Brunette couldn't score on a breakaway with 5 minutes left tonight.

Richards said the Wild just needs to be comfortable playing in these 2-1, 2-2 games. Clearly, it's not magically going to start burying pucks. So it'll have to continue to defend well, get solid goaltending and pray Koivu and Clutterbuck are quick healers and Latendresse finds his way back into the lineup.

Practice is at 11:30. Talk to you in the afternoon.

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