It wasn’t easy, but the Wild took the home-and-home series with the Winnipeg Jets by winning in a shootout tonight, 4-3. After jumping out to a two-goal lead in the first period, the Wild had to do work to earn a win.
After three second-period goals by Winnipeg, the Wild trailed by a goal heading into the third. It was the team’s top line and D-pair that would send the game into overtime.
After breaking up a Winnipeg rush, Ryan Suter hit Mikko Koivu on an outlet pass. The Wild captain found Zach Parise rushing up the left side of the ice. Parise found Ryan Suter, jumping into the play and finding open ice, high in the slot. The blueliner blasted a one-timer into the upper right corner at the 11:41 mark of the third for his first of the preseason. Mikko Koivu added the second assist.
"As the game goes on and we need a goal, who goes out there and gets it for us? That line," Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said of his top trio.
Suter was at the end of a shift, but saw the opportunity and jumped into the play. Last year's NHL ice-time leader still baffles his coach with his stamina.
"He doesn't get tired. It's unreal," Yeo said. "Having that 'D' on the rush -- the middle entry, that's what we're looking for."
After five scoreless overtime minutes in overtime, Jason Pominville scored the lone shootout goal and goaltender Niklas Backstrom shut the door on all three Jets shooters to secure the win. Backstrom made 28 saves in the game.
The Wild jumped on the board first, but it was the team’s checking line that got things going. After retaining the offensive zone on the cycle for nearly a half minute, Minnesota’s fourth line struck pay dirt.
Carson McMillan skated out of the right corner and fed Keith Ballard at the point. The defenseman walked across the blue line and returned the puck to McMillan, who set and threw a wrist shot on net. Zenon Konopka was screening the Jets’ netminder Ondrej Pavelec, who never saw the puck, and McMillan’s shot slipped through the goaltenders legs for his first goal of the preseason.
The Wild extended its lead at the 16:17 mark of the first period, as Charlie Coyle scored in his second-straight game. Ballard again had the puck at the point, but this time decided to fire it towards the net. Either intentional or not, the puck caromed off Justin Fontaine’s skate right onto the tape of Coyle, who tapped it into an empty net.
After the first, it looked like tonight would be all Minnesota but the Jets responded with a second period outburst.
"We're going to have fun games," Yeo said. "It's going to be a good rivalry."
After going 0-7 on the power play on Thursday, the Jets solved the Wild’s penalty kill in the second period. Bryan Little swung around the zone, streaking down the left side of the ice and made a beautiful pass right on the tape of Eric O’Dell, who tapped the puck into the open net.
The Jets drew even later in the second period, capitalizing on a scramble in front of Backstrom. Tobias Enstrom wheeled into the zone and fired a shot on net. Jim Slater was crashing the crease, and Backstrom made the initial save. However, the puck squirted free and Patrice Cormier fished it out and lifted the puck over the sprawling netminder at the 16:22 mark of the middle frame.
Winnipeg took the lead later in the second, again scoring on the power play. Paul Postma took a pass from Jacob Trouba and blasted a one-timer past Backstrom. O’Dell was credited with the second assist.
Pavelec was solid for the Jets, making 32 saves in the game.