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Wild overcome three-goal deficit to beat Ducks in OT

NHL.com @NHL
The Twins weren't the only Minnesota team to overcome a 3-0 deficit on Tuesday night.

Hours after their baseball cousins rallied to win the American League Central Division in a one-game playoff, the Wild came back from a 3-0 deficit in the third period and beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 in overtime at the Xcel Energy Center. Andrew Brunette's power-play goal with 1:52 left in OT capped the rally as the Wild evened their record at 1-1-0. Anaheim is 0-1-1.

Brunette was wide-open in front of Jean-Sebastien Giguere to collect Eric Belanger's rebound and roof it for the winner. The Ducks were shorthanded after James Wisniewski took a needless roughing penalty.

The comeback gave new coach Todd Richards his first victory as an NHL coach and marked the first time in franchise history the Wild has overcome a three-goal deficit in the third period to win.

“It will be one that I’ll always remember, I’ll tell you that,” Richards said.

Mikko Koivu, Petr Sykora and Eric Belanger scored in the third period to get the Wild into overtime after Anaheim scored three times in the second period to take a seemingly safe lead in the first game of four-game road trip.

“It was a good win. They should be proud of the win. The guys played really hard in the third,” said Richards, who was happier for his players than he was for himself. “It’s good for me, but hopefully it will be a bigger boost confidence-wise. We have to build off these last 20 minutes that we played.”

Needless to say, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle wasn't happy with his team's play in the third period.

"How many penalties did we have to kill? You can't have success and defend a lead when you're in the penalty box," Carlyle said. "That got pretty frustrating there at the end. The only positive is that we got one point."

With Minnesota on a power play late in the first period and the puck in the neutral zone, fans in Xcel Energy Center erupted in a loud ovation as the Twins' game-winning hit against the Detroit Tigers was shown on televisions in the arena's concourse and suites.

But before long, the Wild's home opener wasn't going nearly as well.

The Ducks took control when Joffrey Lupul, Evgeni Artyukhin and Saku Koivu scored in a 5:59 span of the second period to give Anaheim a three-goal lead. Koivu's power-play goal, a blast from the right circle at 10:56, was the first in a Ducks uniform since the longtime Montreal captain signed with Anaheim this summer.

"The second period got away from us," admitted Richards. "I don’t think we played real good hockey. I think the players felt that way, too. But we turned it around in the third. Each guy made a commitment to each other to turn it around. The guys were rewarded."

But the third period belonged to Minnesota, which outshot Anaheim 13-2.

Mikko Koivu, Saku's younger brother and Minnesota's captain, got the rally started with a power-play goal on a quick snap shot past Giguere at 6:29. Sykora, signed by the Wild during training camp, made it a one-goal game by finishing off a free from Martin Havlat at 12:10, and Belanger sent the sellout crowd into a frenzy when he ripped a wide-angled slap shot from the left circle that went through Giguere's pads and into the net for another power-play goal at 17:47.

''We're a young group and I think we need to learn how to win, and tonight we found a way to lose,'' said Giguere, who made 28 saves. ''We were all a little bit on our heels as the (third) period went on. We were all afraid to make a mistake or give up a bad goal, and when you play like that, more often than not, it happens.''

-- John Kreiser, NHL.com

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