The Minnesota Wild, looking for their first road win in three weeks, found the secret weapon for what ails them tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wachovia Center.
Victory, thy name is Kyle Brodziak.
In front of the usual crowd of 'proper Philadelphians' -- 19,716 of them, to be exact -- the Wild stormed back from two goals down in an uptempo third period, where every skater, including rookie Casey Wellman, got into it with hockey's most penalized franchise, as the Wild stole two points away from the Eastern Conference playoff race for their efforts, points which, at least for tonight, kept the Wild from falling further into the depths of the Western Conference playoff race.
Martin Havlat and Guillaume Latendresse worked the give-and-go to perfection, to cut a 2-goal lead in half with just over 13 minutes remaing in the third. Half-way to the end, a John Scott shot was tipped in by Andrew Brunette as the Flyers' Daniel Briere was all over Brunette.
As the overtime passed the half-way point, an Antti Miettinen pass to Brodziak connected, Brodziak shot, the shot deflected off Brian Boucher, third string Flyers' goalie, and into the net to end the contest. Niklas Backstrom, starting his second straight game, made 32 saves for his 25th win of the season.
The defeat by the Wild forced the Flyers to call an immediate, post-game 'players only' team meeting in their dressing room, a meeting which some described as 'a call to focus'.
Two questions rear their ugly heads afterwards for Wild fans: First, where the hell was this effort two weeks ago, when the Wild had a reasonable chance of still being in the playoffs? They could have used this type of effort against, say, Florida, a game most Wild faithful say was the final nail in the coffin of this Wild season. The second question: Will it continue? It may not, as the road trip continues tomorrow night, in another house of horrors for the Wild, yet another building they have not had much success in.
Next Game: at Detroit, Friday, March 26 (tomorrow), 6:30 PM Central (7:30 PM Eastern) Time, Joe Louis Arena. (Wild TV: FSNorth; Wings' TV: FSDetroit, both feeds in HD; XM Radio, Ch. 205)