The result was an expectedly entertaining 4-4 tie decided only when New Jersey's Brian Gionta scored his second goal with 6:27 remaining in regulation Tuesday night. The teams combined for 70 shots as defense became an afterthought.
The Wild's Marian Gaborik did his part to keep the goals flowing with the sixth three-goal game of his career.
``I don't think anybody expected to be up and down like it was,'' Gaborik said. ``With two defensive teams, you don't expect a lot of goals. It was a good game to watch with a lot of odd-man rushes.''
Eric Rasmussen and Paul Martin also scored and Scott Gomez had three assists for the Devils.
Sergei Zholtok scored for the seventh time in the last seven games for Minnesota. Zholtok has goals in six of the last seven games.
``Well, we scored goals,'' Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. ``That's what people want. That's what we gave them.''
With the game tied at 3 after two periods, Gaborik completed his hat trick with a power-play goal at 12:12 of the third on a feed from Alexandre Daigle.
Gionta pulled out the tie for the Devils when he tipped Scott Niedermayer's shot past Wild goalie Manny Fernandez.
``It was real weird,'' Gionta said. ``It was uncharacteristic of both teams. We both play defense. Obviously, we don't like to give up that many chances. We scored four but only came out with a tie.''
In the end, the outcome seemed fair.
``It was a pretty evenly matched game,'' Devils coach Pat Burns said.
Rasmussen scored the only goal of the first period with 4:07 remaining, and the two normally close-checking teams combined for five second-period goals.
Gaborik pulled Minnesota even 2:02 into the second period. Daigle eluded a Devils defenseman behind the New Jersey goal and slid the puck to Gaborik, who whipped a shot from the slot past Martin Brodeur.
New Jersey reclaimed the lead at 5:28 as intense power-play pressure paid off with Martin's goal for a 2-1 lead.
Brodeur, known for his strong puck-handling, was victimized for the second time in three games by his own poor clearing attempt. He fired the puck off the boards only to have it intercepted by Zholtok, who fired it into the net before Brodeur could get back into position at 6:38 of the second period.
Brodeur gave up a similar goal to Carolina's Jeff O'Neill in the Devils' 4-1 win Saturday.
Gionta put the Devils back in front 3-2 at 10:06, before Gaborik tied the game again with 1:59 remaining.
|Erik Rasmussen (4) ASST: Grant Marshall (7), Mike Rupp (5)|
1 - 0 NJD
|Marian Gaborik (7) ASST: Alexandre Daigle (16)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Paul Martin (4) ASST: Scott Niedermayer (23), Scott Gomez (26)|
2 - 1 NJD
|Sergei Zholtok (13) ASST: NONE|
2 - 2 Tie
|Brian Gionta (13) ASST: Jeff Friesen (14), Scott Gomez (27)|
3 - 2 NJD
|Marian Gaborik (8) ASST: Sergei Zholtok (14)|
3 - 3 Tie
|PPG - Marian Gaborik (9) ASST: Alexandre Daigle (17), Filip Kuba (16)|
4 - 3 MIN
|Brian Gionta (14) ASST: Scott Niedermayer (24), Scott Gomez (28)|
4 - 4 Tie
|Erik Rasmussen Holding the stick against Andrew Brunette|
|Turner Stevenson Hi-sticking against Pascal Dupuis|
|Richard Park Tripping - Obstruction against Turner Stevenson|
|Jason Wiemer Tripping against Colin White|
|Erik Rasmussen Holding stick - Obstruction against Richard Park|