But that was no problem, as talented rookie Jason Zucker scored to lead things off for Minnesota, and Josh Harding was perfect, leading the Wild to a 2-1 victory at Nationwide Arena. Harding made 20 saves in the game.
On a night the Wild brought a young lineup into the Buckeye State, veteran defenseman Keith Ballard scored an important third-period goal sending the game into overtime. After more than 25 minutes of scoreless hockey, Ballard evened things up with 8:24 left in regulation. Ballard hopped on a loose puck in the mid slot and rifled a shot over Sergei Bobrovsky’s shoulder. Zucker and Justin Fontaine had assists on the play.
Zucker and Fontaine, teamed with Erik Haula, nearly accounted for a game-winning goal inside five minutes left. Zucker’s speed then set up a power play late in regulation.
Matt Dumba had the Wild’s best chance of overtime, streaking in on the left side after the power play had ended, but Bobrovsky swallowed up the shot.
It may be the pre-season, but Bobrovsky still showed his Vezina Trophy-winning form. Bobrovsky made 13 of his 26 saves in the first period.
The teams got testy a couple times in the second period, like when Boone Jenner leveled Haula along the boards. Jon Landry accosted Jenner, and picked up an extra minor for roughing sending Columbus on the power play. Jenner was not penalized on the play.
The Blue Jackets scored the game’s lone goal on that man advantage. James Wisniewski’s tally came just after Ohio State product David Steckel had his second near miss of the game. Just seconds after Steckel fired wide on a breakaway, Wisniewski got the game’s first goal. Camped out in the left circle, Wisniewski took a pass from Marian Gaborik and one-timed it inside the far post with 13:42 left in the second.
Harding kept it a one-goal game with 9:00 left in the second, stoning Cody Bass on a shorthanded breakaway and then turning aside a rebound as well.
The Wild nearly equaled it up with the man advantage late in the second, but Bobrovsky stayed close to the near post as Zucker streaked in from the left side and hit the outside of the net on a nice feed from Nino Niederreiter.
The teams skated to a scoreless first period, a stanza that saw the Wild dominate play with a 12-3 shots on goal advantage. The best chance of the period came shorthanded, when Bobrovsky stoned Steckel on a partial breakaway.
In addition to limiting Columbus shots and chances, the Wild were all over the blocked shots column as well. Landry had four of his seven in the opening period, and the Wild had 19 blocked shots to the Jackets’ nine in the game.
While Brodziak, Cooke, and Clayton Stoner all wore A’s tonight, the game also possibly marked the last outing in a Wild sweater for a few of the young players, for the time being at least.
"We're going to get down tomorrow," Yeo said, referring to the large number of players still in camp. "Not our final number but close to it. We want to make sure we get as close as possible. But we will have a couple more decisions to make."