Good evening from Joe Louis Arena, where the Wild had to feel just a little worried that a bunch of cops would meet them at Detroit International Airport before taking off for Minnesota.
Yes, as coach Todd Richards and several players said, "You bend and not break," which incidentally is an incredible Dashboard Confessional song.
But let's be honest, the Wild committed highway robbery, winning its second straight overtime game and sixth game in eight when John Madden scored with 42 seconds left in OT.
Yes, the Wild played a solid first period, and yes it built a 2-0 lead, but then turnovers and penalties and turnovers, and suddenly the Wild is once again pinned in its own zone for an eternity.
The Wild was great on the penalty kill in the second, and Jose Theodore was tremendous (what a 1-2 goaltending punch the Wild employs), but they couldn't escape when Darren Helm scored in the final minute of the second. That cut the Detroit deficit to 2-1 in a period they outshot the Wild 18-3.
Uh-oh. And yes, Detroit had a 3-2 lead by 4:55 into the third. But they didn't break, and Mikko Koivu, who for the second game in a row didn't bury a shorthanded chance earlier in the game only to find it in the back of his net seconds later, scored the tying goal with 1:23 left. It came after Nick Schultz, who was terrific playing mentor for young Marco Scandella all night, turned into an offensive defenseman, drove down the right wing and backhanded basically a perfect pass from the wall because Jimmy Howard served the rebound right to Koivu in the slot.
In overtime, Marek Zidlicky held onto the puck forever down low, stopping and starting and stopping and starting, and finally he threw the puck at the crease. Martin Havlat's deflected shot jumped right to Madden's stick for his second career OT winner.
After the game, Madden learned from reporters that Pat Burns, his coach in New Jersey when he won his second of three Cups in 2003, died of cancer. The news came shortly before gametime.
Here are some quotes from a broken up Madden:
"He knew my personality, and not too many people can charm into that. Grabbed me right as the season started and made me feel good about myself and about my game and made me feel important to the team."
"I watched him when he coached the Toronto Maple Leafs, being a Toronto boy, and he had Dougie Gilmour and [Dave] Adreychuk and Wendel Clark, and I always wanted them to win a Cup. When L.A. beat them that one time, I hurt just as much as they did when they went out. When we all won the Cup together in Jersey, it was nice."
"Pat and I got along great. It was just a great time we had in Jersey, and he was probably the best coach I ever had. I know he was very ill. Maybe a month ago, there was that false report that he passed. Of course he made a joke about it. He said, ‘Not yet.’ He’s always had a fighting spirit."
This is a huge loss for the hockey community.
The Wild's at the airport now flying home. Couple things: Brent Burns now has six goals, which leads all NHL defensemen. Cal Clutterbuck scored his team-leading seventh. Another good game for Havlat -- 2 assists, now with points in four straight (1 goal, 6 assists). Theodore made 41 saves in a game the Wild gave up a season-high 44 shots. The Wild's been outshot in 17 of 18 now, and have been outshot by more than 10 seven times. The Wild averages a league-low 24.8 shots per game.
Saturday night, Marian Gaborik and Derek Boogaard (barring injury Friday in Colorado) return to the X for the first time.
Gaborik, who's been playing well since missing 11 games with a separated shoulder, didn't grant interviews on the return, but I did talk to Boogaard. I did a combo story for Saturday's paper and I'll do a notebook for Sunday's paper too with a bunch of extras I held from Boogaard and hopefully some voice from Gaborik.
Gaborik was injured and didn't play in last year's return, but he did do a presser at the St. Paul Hotel the day before the game last year. So here's the stories I did at the time if you want to flash back: Insider and Gaborik speaks notebook
If you're expecting to see a Boogaard fight Saturday, don't count on it. Cal Clutterbuck says, "No chance," does anybody on the Wild fight Boogaard, and the likeliest guy, Brad Staubitz, confirmed to me that it's very doubtful he'll be looking for that. Hopefully Boogaard plays because coach John Tortorella has scratched him a few times when the other team's lacked an enforcer. Todd White also plays for the Rangers, although he's been scratched some, and Hastings native Derek Stepan centered the Rangers' top line Friday night with Gaborik and Alex Frolov.
Lastly, the Wild will hold its fifth annual food drive to benefit Second Harvest Heartland, the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger-relief organization, Saturday.
Wild fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items and/or monetary donations to Gates 1-5 on starting at 6 p.m. through the start of the second period. Fans donating 5 or more non-perishable food items will receive one buy one get one free ticket voucher per qualifying donation. The ticket voucher is good for a future Wild home game during the 2010-2011 hockey season. For every $5 donated, Second Harvest can provide 18 meals to the most vulnerable members of our community.
Talk to you after Saturday's optional morning skates.