As he previewed the Wild’s upcoming matchup against the Jets after practice Friday, winger Marcus Foligno identified a strong start and a physical edge as what could help the team respond after suffering back-to-back losses.
That was exactly how the game played out Saturday at Xcel Energy Center, thanks in part to Foligno.
Not only did he score on his first shift, and the Wild’s initial shot, but he set up the tying goal and racked up a game-high five hits to set the tone for a gritty, workmanlike 3-2 comeback victory in overtime.
“You can always talk the talk, but it’s nice to walk it, too,” Foligno said. “When you do say stuff like that, you gotta back it up. It’s what I feel this year, how I’ve been playing. I feel that I can contribute a little bit more.
“We just need the emotion of this team. We’re so good when we’re emotionally involved, and you saw it tonight.”
The two-point effort came amid a promotion from the fourth line to the third, and Foligno seemed to fit in immediately. After redirecting in a pass from center Joel Eriksson Ek just 1 minute, 12 seconds into the first period, Foligno was a wrecking ball — finishing the period with three hits.
“He’s doing at this stage what every coach wants every player to do,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “You move up in the lineup and show that you never want to go back down. That’s the way he played. I thought that first goal might’ve been our prettiest goal of the year.”
In the third, Foligno used a no-look drop pass to find winger Luke Kunin for the equalizer.
“I just gave a little quick look over my shoulder,” he said. “Those are somewhat ‘hope’ plays. But when you can pull them off, they look good.”
Overall, the line combined for five points.
With his assist, Eriksson Ek (who has four points in his past five games) tied his career high in points with 16. Kunin set a career high in points (18) with his two-point showing. His goal, No. 10 of the season, marked the first time he has reached double digits in his career, and in his past seven games Kunin has five points.
“We like playing with each other,” Foligno said.
Center Eric Staal’s winning goal in overtime was the fourth of his career and first with the Wild. He last overtime tally came on Dec. 29, 2011, against Toronto when he was with Carolina.
The score accounted for Staal’s 12th point in his past 11 games.
With an assist on the goal, defenseman Ryan Suter passed Pierre-Marc Bouchard for the second-most power-play assists in team history (105).
Suter is on a four-game point streak and is operating at a point-per-game pace over his past 11.
Before the game, the Wild recalled defenseman Louie Belpedio from the American Hockey League. The move was designed to give the team an extra option should it need one amid this weekend’s back-to-back.
World juniors update
Prospect Alexander Khovanov will compete for gold Sunday at the IIHF World Junior Championship after Russia overcame Sweden 5-4 in overtime Saturday in the semifinals — a game in which Khovanov had a goal and assist.
In the quarterfinals, Khovanov scored the winning goal and added an assist in a 3-1 victory over Switzerland. Before that, he had an assist when Russia closed out round-robin play with a 6-1 win over Germany.
Overall, Khovanov — who was drafted in the third round, 86th overall, by the Wild in 2018 — leads Russia in scoring in the tournament with eight points in six games. Two of his three goals have been game-winners.
Khovanov has put 17 shots on net and averaged 15:45 of ice time.