By Wild Road Tripper
The only way Wednesday night's Minnesota Wild game at Xcel Energy Center could have wound up better is if it were a playoff game. Then Andrew Ebbett's vision of scoring a playoff winner in the NHL would have been complete.
As it was, the ex-Wolverine came thru in the clutch, by putting the rebound of a Guillaume Latendresse shot past Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne, to give the Wild a 5-4 overtime victory in front of an announced 18,071 (just a mere 7 people over seated capacity).
Ebbett's 3rd goal of the season, his first-ever game winner, wiped out a 'FANG-tastic' night for two Predators -- Steve Sullivan, who scored once and assisted three times, and Jason Arnott, who scored twice and had one assist for Nashville. Sullivan's four-point night is only the fifth time such a feat has been done by an opponent in St. Paul. The Predators gave up five goals for the second straight game, having been previously torched by the Calgary Flames, 5-0, on Monday night at Sommet Center.
Ten different Wild players figured in the scoring, led by Latendresse's goal and assist, Mikko Koivu's goal late in the third (to tie the game 4-4) and an assist, and two assists each by Andrew Brunette and Kyle Brodziak. Niklas Backstrom made 31 saves to notch his 10th win of the season, and his 66th all-time at Xcel Energy Center, becoming the all-time team leader (passing Manny Fernandez in that category). The Wild are now 4-0-1 in their last five games, the first time since the opening weeks of last season that they have points in five or more games. The Wild are now 95-3-3 lifetime, when scoring four or more goals at home.
After a first period where the Wild scored three times for the first time this season, the overall pace of the game was draggingly slow as the Preds 3-across-the-blue-line kept the Wild at bay during almost the entire second period and the first half of the third. Then, a Francois Boullion penalty really put the Preds in hot water, and the Wild took only 10 seconds of power-play time for Koivu to get his seventh goal of the season. The Wild seemed to feed off of that until a Koivu hooking penalty (against Jordin Tootoo, nonetheless) killed a lot of the momentum at 17:40. The two teams went into the OT period evenly matched, or so it seemed, until the newcomers, Latendresse and Ebbett, did their thing.
The two teams will face off Saturday night in Nashville, on the second night of a back-to-back for both teams. The first half for the Wild is the Next Game: vs. Anaheim, Friday, Dec. 4, 7:00 PM, Xcel Energy Center. (Wild TV: FSNorth (in HD); No Ducks TV; XM Radio, Ch. 206).