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Columbus
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24 SOG
28 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
CBJ
MIN
game recap

Wild 4, Blue Jackets 2

Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:15 AM

Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -Starting fast hasn't been a strength of the Minnesota Wild of late. Instead, the Wild have been trying to win with frantic rallies.

Mikko Koivu changed that in Minnesota's 4-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

In its first 10 games this month, Minnesota had given up the first goal eight times. That was a big reason why the Wild entered the game against Columbus on a four-game losing streak.

Aggressive from the start, the Wild avoided an early hole.

Minnesota opened the scoring 3:41 in on Koivu's goal that was confirmed by video review. From behind the net, Antti Miettinen found Koivu in the slot. It was originally unclear whether Koivu's shot got between Mason's right leg and the post.

After a lengthy review, the shot was ruled in and Koivu had his 15th of the season.

"I couldn't see the puck. I knew it was close," said Koivu, who leads Minnesota in scoring.

While Koivu said that scoring first doesn't guarantee anything, it was certainly important to build confidence. Minnesota led after the first period for only the second time in 14 games.

"It was one of the best first periods we've had in a long time," Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom said. "It was just nice to get the lead. But it was one good first period, now we have to make sure we keep doing it."

Koivu, who will represent Finland in next month's Vancouver Olympics, wasn't through. He got the Wild going early in the second period, as well. His shot from just above the right circle got past a screened Mason at 1:26, giving the Minnesota captain his second multigoal game this season.

Less than 3 minutes later, Eric Belanger turned and fired a puck in the direction of the Columbus net without really looking. The puck went between Mason's legs to make it 3-0.

"In games where you are struggling, you look to your leaders. There were some guys that stepped up, older players with Mikko being one of them," Wild coach Todd Richards said. "He had two big goals, and Miettinen makes a good play behind the net, and (Andrew Brunette) starts the play. The three of them executed and made plays.

"The second goal was just a great shot, quick. He stepped up his game. When you're struggling, you look to those guys."

While the Wild changed their recent fortunes, the game was much of the same for the Blue Jackets. In each of the previous six games, Columbus had given up a goal in the first 2:29. The Blue Jackets have allowed a first-period goal in 10 of 11 games.

"Obviously, we set ourselves back early and we find ourselves having to play back for the rest of it," said Mason, who stopped 24 shots but has just one road win since November. "Obviously it's not the way you want to start hockey games. We have to find a way to not let that happen."

The Wild are 21-7-3 when scoring at least three goals.

Backstrom was solid in stopping 22 shots. Backstrom, who will also play for Finland in the Olympics, appeared on his way to his second shutout of the season, but Columbus got goals from Rick Nash and Antoine Vermette in the final minute.

"The only thing that matters is to get the two points and get the win," Backstrom said.

The Blue Jackets, however, realize that the season is quickly slipping away and they can't continue to fall behind.

"We're desperate for points," Nash said. "If we're going to make a run here we need to start it right now. I thought we played desperate on Thursday night, but tonight we didn't play desperate for the full 60."

NOTES: Robbie Earl scored his fifth goal in only 15 games for the Wild when he beat Mason late in the third period. ... Josh Harding served as the Wild's backup goalie after injuring his left hip Thursday in a shootout loss to Detroit. Harding was expected to miss one to two weeks, but didn't even sit out one game. ... Columbus completed a three-game road trip. The Blue Jackets will play eight of 10 and 17 of their final 28 games at home. ... Columbus was without RW Jakub Voracek, who was injured when elbowed by Boston's Michael Ryder on Thursday.

scoring summary
1st Period
03:41
MIN
Mikko Koivu (15) Snap shot - ASST: Antti Miettinen (14), Andrew Brunette (25)
1 - 0 MIN
2nd Period
01:26
MIN
Mikko Koivu (16) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE
2 - 0 MIN
04:18
MIN
Eric Belanger (13) Wrist shot - ASST: Owen Nolan (12)
3 - 0 MIN
3rd Period
18:52
MIN
Robbie Earl (5) Snap shot - ASST: Shane Hnidy (10), Marty Havlat (26)
4 - 0 MIN
19:38
CBJ
Rick Nash (24) Wrist shot - ASST: Jan Hejda (8), Antoine Vermette (25)
4 - 1 MIN
19:56
CBJ
Antoine Vermette (16) Slapshot - ASST: Mike Commodore (8), Rick Nash (25)
4 - 2 MIN
penalty summary
1st Period
04:59
MIN
Eric Belanger  Slashing against  Chris Clark
10:49
CBJ
Mike Commodore  Interference against  Guillaume Latendresse
2nd Period
04:46
CBJ
Jared Boll  Fighting (maj) against  Derek Boogaard
04:46
MIN
Derek Boogaard  Fighting (maj) against  Jared Boll
05:15
CBJ
Derek Dorsett  Roughing against  Cal Clutterbuck
05:15
CBJ
Derek Dorsett  Roughing against  Cal Clutterbuck
09:56
CBJ
Kristian Huselius  Tripping against  Eric Belanger
3rd Period
09:10
CBJ
Rick Nash  Roughing against  Nick Schultz
09:10
CBJ
Rick Nash  Fighting (maj) against  Nick Schultz
09:10
MIN
Nick Schultz  Fighting (maj) against  Rick Nash
13:24
MIN
Marek Zidlicky  Delaying Game-Puck over glass
19:24
CBJ
Derek Dorsett  Roughing against  Brent Burns
19:24
MIN
Brent Burns  Roughing against  Derek Dorsett
goalie stats
Steve Mason
SA: 28TOI: 60:00
Saves: 24EV: 18 - 22
PIM: 0PP: 6 - 6
SV%: .857SH: 0 - 0
Niklas Backstrom
SA: 24TOI: 59:53
Saves: 22EV: 21 - 23
PIM: 0PP: 1 - 1
SV%: .917SH: 0 - 0