Goals from players with vastly different NHL experience levels led the Wild to a 2-1 overtime victory over the Calgary Flames.
Jason Zucker scored with less than five minutes remaining in regulation and Zach Parise scored the game-winning power-play goal 27 seconds into overtime to give the Wild points in six of its last seven home games.
“If we thought that we were just going to sign a couple players and all of the sudden we’ve arrived…it’s not reality,” Coach Mike Yeo said. ““I thought that this was a huge step for our club.”
The Wild started slow in front of 18,703 fans. They were outshot 7-1 early in first period, gave up a power-play goal to Alex Tanguay and had a turnover-laden power play resulting in two Flames’ scoring chances.
“The first period I thought we were a bit afraid,” Yeo said. “Not afraid of Calgary, but afraid of laying it out there and not getting the result you want.”
Nicklas Backstrom’s 20 saves, the Wild’s ability to kill six straight penalties and the Flames’ inability to get more than four shots in the third period and overtime allowed the Wild stay close until Zucker’s goal.
“If you get seven shots and one of them hasn’t gone in, get eight. If you have gone 0-7 on the power play, score on the next one,” Yeo said. “To me that’s what winners do and that’s what they did tonight.”
The game was slowed by 15 penalties including a questionable five-minute major to Charlie Coyle for elbowing in a matchup featuring on 32:32 of five-on-five play.
“That’s the battle. Riding the emotion and finding a way to come back to the rink the next day and to be great,” Yeo said. “That’s the fight we need every night.”
It was the final penalty on Mark Giordano late in the third period, for smothering the puck, which was crucial for the Wild.
The Wild wasted no time on its four-on-three overtime power play. Koivu passed the puck to Parise who was alone in front of goaltender Joey MacDonald, and slipped a backhand passed the Flames goalie.
“You have to do a lot of things to be a winner and to find yourself at that point,” Yeo said. “I love that we came out and fought like that, because that’s what we’ll do.
Ryan Suter had two assists and led the Wild in ice time but it was Zucker, the player with the second-least ice time, who made his minutes count most.
Zucker was set up nicely for the tying goal after Setoguchi’s shot hit a defender, ricocheted back to Setoguchi and fired a pass to an open Zucker for the late goal.