CALGARY, ALBERTA – The Calgary Flames have gotten a lot of publicity lately because of their third-period magic. They entered Wednesday's game against the Wild with a league-high 10 victories when trailing after two periods — two from tying the league record.
When asked about all these comebacks Wednesday morning, Wild coach Mike Yeo joked, "I'd like to see if they can try to come back again."
Be careful what you wish for. The Flames sure tried, tying the score in the third period to force overtime, but 1 minute, 50 seconds in, captain Mikko Koivu scored his fourth career overtime winner to deliver Minnesota a 3-2 victory.
"That little pump fake," said defenseman Marco Scandella, who led the 3-on-2 rush with Charlie Coyle before Koivu's winner. "I've seen him get a few goalies with that."
In bouncing back from a damaging loss Monday in Vancouver, the Wild improved to 9-1-2 in its past 12 games, 11-2-2 since goalie Devan Dubnyk's arrival, and 4-1-1 since injuries to Jason Zucker and Ryan Carter.
The victory put the Wild within one point of the eighth and final playoff spot and within striking distance of four log-jammed, position-jockeying Pacific Division teams (Calgary, Vancouver, Los Angeles and San Jose).
"Huge second point," Koivu said.
The Wild, 21-2-2 when leading after two periods, held on against a Flames team that is 10-16-2 when trailing after two periods and has outscored opponents 73-38 in the third for a league-best plus-35 differential.
Clinging to a one-goal lead and playing without defenseman Jared Spurgeon for 53 minutes because he was struck in the face by a puck, the Wild ultimately gave up the tying goal 9:46 into the third.
Moments after the Wild felt Calgary got away with too many men on the ice and after Jonas Hiller just caught sight of a Mikael Granlund shot at the last second, Lance Buoma streaked down the left wing and beat Dubnyk gloveside.
The Wild got goals from Justin Fontaine and 20-year-old rookie Matt Dumba, a Calgary native, who also made terrific defensive plays before both Fontaine's goal and Koivu's winner.
"I believe in my defensive game," Dumba said. "Showing it tonight was huge, and being able to capitalize on my opportunity to score was awesome."
Spurgeon was hit by a deflected Mark Giordano point shot on his second shift of the game. That caused the Wild to play one defenseman short for most the game and throw out a constant mishmash of juggled blue-liners.
Ryan Suter, the Wild's No. 1 defenseman, logged 33 minutes, 9 seconds. Partner Jonas Brodin logged 29:15, Scandella 23:23, Dumba 18:20 and Nate Prosser 16:55.
"I thought they all did a great job," Koivu said. "All the defense corps has been awesome for a long period of time. We knew they could step up and play the game they did. We didn't see the difference."
When Spurgeon left the game, Dumba's responsibilities and ice time were elevated.
"I felt that was his best game as a pro even before [the plays he made to save a goal and get the puck to Scandella before Koivu's winner]," Yeo said. "It's huge for us the fact that he can step up in a game like that when we lose a guy and he's able to elevate a game to that level. I'm pleased for him that he was able to do it here with family in the audience."
Fontaine gave the Wild a 1-0 lead off a Thomas Vanek pass, but Dumba got things started in the defensive zone with a stick check to force a loose puck and counterattack after a Scandella turnover.
Later, he scored his third goal off a sick wrister for a two-goal lead. In overtime, he broke up what looked like a sure goal by Jiri Hudler, then made a poised outlet to Scandella to trigger the 3-on-2.
"He played well. He played really well," Suter said. "That shows what his potential is and he's got to keep going."