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Wild proves again that no third-period deficit is too large

Minnesota rallies from multiple goals down for a third consecutive game, secures regulation win against Golden Knights

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- If you're one of the lucky 3,000 fans that gets to make a trip to Xcel Energy Center at any point the rest of this truncated hockey season, be sure to remain in your seat until the final buzzer.

Because if it isn't clear by now, no deficit is too large for the Wild to overcome.

For the third consecutive game, the Wild erased a two-goal, third-period hole, and for the second straight contest, came away with two points.

This time, it was a miracle 6-5 win against the first-place Vegas Golden Knights, a victory made even sweeter by the fact that it came in regulation, and denied the West Division-leading Knights a chance at salvaging a critical point as the regular season winds down.

Vegas led by six points with six games remaining when the night began, and appeared well on its way to putting the Wild in a eight-back-with-five-to-go hole as late as the midway point of the third period. 

At that point, the Knights led 5-3, and certainly an elite team like the Knights - the stingiest team in the League entering the night - would be able to close out a two-goal lead with only half a period left ... right? 

Wrong.

Video: VGK@MIN: Fiala puts home own rebound

Kevin Fiala continued his torrid play by scoring in a third consecutive game - his 11th goal in his past 19 - and pulled Minnesota to within 5-4.

At that point, it seemed inevitable the Wild would eventually tie the score. That's just what they do.

"We have a lot of confidence in our group, whatever lines go there. We talked about it in between the second and the third that we just needed one," said Wild captain Jared Spurgeon. "That's the best thing about this group that no one shuts it down. We play until the final buzzer, and we've been fortunate enough to tie these games up. 

"Obviously, we don't want to be in this position all the time, but it shows a lot of character to come back on teams like we just did."

Video: Players Postgame vs Vegas

That sense of inevitability came full circle with 92 seconds remaining and Cam Talbot on the bench for the extra attacker, when Fiala's shot from the slot hit Robin Lehner and bounced right onto Kirill Kaprizov's stick. The rookie didn't miss, whipping his 24th goal into an open goal to tie the game at 5-5.

Just in time to force a third consecutive overtime ... right?

Wrong.

Only 26 seconds elapsed before the Wild's most consistent offensive line all season delivered a big win. 

Video: VGK@MIN: Kaprizov, Brodin give Wild lead late in 3rd

The line of Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Foligno and Jordan Greenway went to work in the offensive zone, with Greenway nearly connecting with Foligno for a backdoor chance ... it worked out anyway, as Foligno pushed the puck back to Brodin at the point, who was just trying to get a puck to the cage, only to see it slip past Lehner and under the crossbar for an improbable lead with 1:06 remaining.

The goal was Brodin's ninth of the season, which established a new career high - a nice reward for the Wild's best shutdown defenseman that admitted he's been trying to burnish his offensive credentials this season.

"Maybe it's just the confidence I think. I'm trying to work on my offense, bring a little more offense because I know I have my defensive game," Brodin said. "So I'm trying to create more offense, and I think one big thing is, I'm trying to shoot more. Like the last shot today, it was rolling up to me and I was just trying to get it on the net. And sometimes it goes in and sometimes it doesn't go in, but I think that's the big thing, I'm just trying to put more pucks on the net this year."

Whatever it is, Brodin has scored two of the biggest goals of the season over the past couple of days. He also tied the game and forced overtime in Saturday's come-from-behind win against the Blues, firing a shot past Jordan Binnington with just under a minute left in regulation.

Fiala would win that game a few minutes later in 3-on-3.

Video: Dean Evason postgame vs Vegas

"Maybe hasn't got the points ... [But] we've used him in different spots, clearly offensive situations being out there in that spot. His legs are so good, but his mind is even better," said Wild coach Dean Evason on Brodin. "He makes intelligent plays and simplifies. Clearly got a couple big pucks to the net the last couple nights."

Clearly, trailing by multiple goals in the third period is not a long-term recipe for success in the NHL, specifically in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Everything about the Wild's game is being tailored to that part of the season.

For now, however, the Wild will ride the wave of positivity and squeak out wins in whatever fashion presents itself.  

"We all enjoy being around each other. We're having fun. And each day we come to the rink, we're working hard and, like I said, enjoying it," Spurgeon said. "So we're trying to play these games out as the key games and go into playoffs playing well and everyone feeling good about themselves."

Video: VGK@MIN: Bonino finishes rebound in front to equalize

Perhaps it's no surprise that Nick Bonino is playing his best hockey as the season winds to a close. 

A 12-year veteran with two Stanley Cup championship rings on his resume, Bonino scored two goals and assisted on another on Monday night and now has five multi-point games over his past 11 games. 

He's also winning huge faceoffs, serving as net-front presence on the power play, killing penalties and blocking shots, as he did in the final moments to preserve the win on Monday.

Video: VGK@MIN: Bonino scores PPG in 2nd period

"He's won a Cup. That tells you everything. He knows exactly what to do. He knows how to do it. And he teaches our group every night," Evason said. "His value is immense. Clearly that's what Billy [Guerin] knew and why he went out and got him."

Said Talbot: "Nick's been huge and he comes to play every night. Sometimes he doesn't show up on the scoresheet like he did tonight, but he always does the little things right."

Minnesota is now 5-1-1 against Vegas this season and 6-0-1 all-time against the Knights at Xcel Energy Center. 

When the puck drops on Wednesday's rematch here in St. Paul, the Wild will trail Vegas by four points for the top spot in the West Division with five games to play.

Video: VGK@MIN: Eriksson Ek fires a wrister past Lehner

Another victory would mean game-on for the final week or two of the regular season, and a chance for Minnesota to raise a second division championship banner into the rafters at Xcel Energy Center.

With its week of miracle comebacks continuing, the Wild has assured itself of at least a chip and a chair at the table.

"We're a tight group. We can feel it," Talbot said. "It doesn't matter if we're down one-goal, two-goals going into the third, we're still a confident group. We're going to go out there, keep playing our game. 

"It's never out of the question for us. We've shown that lately. We prefer not to be in those situations and close these games out, but we showed a lot of character the last few nights. We're just trying to build our game and ramp it up going into the playoffs."


Related:

Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 6, Golden Knights 5

Video: Kaprizov, Brodin lift Wild over Golden Knights

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