The Wild are out of the playoffs, drawing fewer and fewer people to Xcel Energy Center and sometimes fighting unsuccessfully to simply match the intensity levels of opponents still in playoff contention. "It's not easy right now," captain Mikko Koivu said. But, after he scored the deciding goal just 15 seconds into overtime as the Wild defeated the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Thursday, March 29, Koivu was in no mood to critique Minnesota's sometimes sluggish evening. "I don't care how you play if you just win the game," he said. If the 16,952 customers at the X were looking for entertainment, they had to sit through plenty of tedious play before the game turned exciting in the final minute of the third period. Coach Mike Yeo pulled his goalie and sent Erik Christensen onto the ice with 60 seconds remaining, and Christensen grabbed a rebound off the goalpost and flicked it into the net to tie the score with 31 seconds to go. "It wasn't our prettiest game," said defenseman Tom Gilbert, who set up both Christensen's and Koivu's goals just 46 seconds apart. "We were turning pucks over; we weren't getting pucks deep. We pretty much gave them most of the momentum. But we stuck with it." The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Minnesota, which was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention last weekend. That showed at times as the Panthers, sixth in the Eastern Conference in points, turned two big breaks into leads of 1-0 and 2-1. Their first goal came on a power play after a bad penalty call, and their second goal came on a 4-on-3 play after a Wild clearing attempt hit a linesman and allowed Florida to regroup just outside the Minnesota blue line.
Wild turn an ugly night into sudden victory on Mikko Koivu goal 15 seconds into overtime
St. Paul Pioneer Press | Mar 30