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Koivu's Leadership Guides Wild Into A Game 6

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

DALLAS – As Mikko Koivu answered questions about a performance that resurrected the Minnesota Wild's season from dead, his responses sounded like they could have come following game seven, and not game 87.

Koivu is a stoic leader, even-keel and never rattled by the pressures or tribulations that come with the job of being an NHL captain. It serves the Wild well with the 'C' sewn below his left shoulder.

On Friday, he served the Wild a performance that will go down in its annals.

Koivu scored twice in what amounted to a span of 8:04, first with 3:09 remaining in regulation to save the Wild’s season, and then 4:55 into overtime to extend it.

"Those are big (goals)," Koivu said, part of his calm and collected postgame comments that quickly shifted their focus to a Game 6 Sunday in Saint Paul (2 p.m. CT; NBC). "Now the preparing starts for that one."

It's how Koivu leads, and in a series where he has accounted for both Wild game-winning goals, played stellar defensive minutes against the likes of Jamie Benn or Jason Spezza, and has all-the-while never flinched in the face at whatever has been thrown at him or the team he leads, Koivu has been immensely important.

"When you lose top players, other guys have to step up," said Ryan Suter, who assisted on Koivu’s game-winning goal. "And Mikko has stepped up."

Though Koivu will never heap praise on himself, even after an effort like his on Friday, he has his teammates to expound like a giddy sibling, or his coach to beam like a proud parent.

"He really wanted it, that’s for sure," interim Head Coach John Torchetti said. "I don't know all the stats stuff and all that, I just know his leadership, and that's what it's all about.

"Like we said when we were 0-2, and you talk about leadership, leaders find a way to get things done."

On Monday, Koivu scored the game-winning goal in Game 3 at Xcel Energy Center to keep Minnesota out of a 3-0 deficit, the likes of which more or often than not spells the end to a Stanley Cup Playoff run.

Five days later, he recorded his first multi-goal postseason game, putting an exclamation point on his night with an overtime-winner to force the series back to Saint Paul.

"That's just so big to get that goal for Mikko to tie the game," Devan Dubnyk said. "That’s the season right there.

"Obviously everybody knows what he brings. It's not just the goal scoring, but his overall game is as good as it gets. For him to step up like that, it’s pretty awesome."

Koivu is, in that sense, unflappable, a characteristic any franchise wants from its captain.

"I know it sounds like a cliché, but it’s all about the next one," Koivu said. "It's about the next goal, it's about the next game, and that’s what it is."

So on forge the Wild, Koivu at the helm, hands gripped firmly on the steering wheel, making sure the boat doesn’t ride too high, or sink too low.

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