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Nolan's late goal gives Wild 3-2 win over Isles

by John Kreiser /
Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

Owen Nolan had been knocked down in front of the New York Islanders' net and was ready to race back up ice to get back in the play. Instead, he wound up all alone with the puck on his stick and beat Martin Biron with 1:07 left in regulation to give the Minnesota Wild a 3-2 victory over the Islanders on Friday night.

While Nolan was getting off the ice, Eric Belanger reached as high as he could to knock down Blake Comeau's attempted clear at the left point and lobbed the puck toward the slot. He found Nolan, who had been left alone by defensemen Mark Streit and Bruno Gervais as they left the zone in anticipation of the clear.

"I had an idea that (Belanger) knew I was in front and I was just waiting for it," said Nolan, who also scored in the first period to help the Wild beat the Islanders for the fifth consecutive time.

Nolan had the presence of mind to glove down the puck and take his time before beating a defenseless Biron.

"He showed great composure on the game-winning goal," coach Todd Richards said. "A lot of guys get in that situation and rush it a little bit. Great composure."

Biron had no idea what happened.

"It just caught me by surprise," Biron said. "It hit the inside of my paddle, and after that I had no idea where it went."

Islanders coach Scott Gordon was as displeased as his counterpart was happy.

"We turned the puck over. It's not complicated," Gordon said. "It's a turnover that shouldn't have happened."

It was a welcome win for the Wild, who had lost four in a row and were playing without a half-dozen regulars.

"It gives young guys great opportunities to step in and show what they got," Nolan said. "They've got to bring the energy and I thought they did that."

The Islanders, who saw a 2-1 lead disappear when Mikko Koivu scored a power-play goal 6:58 into the third period, fell to 2-1-2 on a seven-game road trip that continues Saturday night in St. Louis.

Nolan started the scoring 11:44 into the game, bouncing the puck off Biron from behind the net and into the net. The fluky goal seemed to energize Biron, who made huge saves on Koivu and Antti Miettinen in between consecutive second-period goals by Jon Sim and Josh Bailey.

Sim scored on a snap shot from the right faceoff dot past Niklas Backstrom at 3:07 and set up Bailey for a one-timer from the lower right circle at 10:23.

Koivu tied it by finishing off a tic-tac-toe passing display.

"Everyone touched the puck in about four seconds," Richards said.

In contrast, the Islanders were 0-for-6 on the power play -- and paid the price for their failure to capitalize.

"I thought that we had some great chances that we just didn't cash in on," Gordon said. "If we cash in on them, point-blank opportunities, we're not even talking about giving up a bad goal in the third."

Material from team media was used in this report


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