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Wild's power play comes through when team needs it most

Struggling man-advantage gets on track in overtime to deliver extra point for Minnesota on Saturday in St. Paul

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

ST. PAUL -- Clicking along at a 4-for-40 clip over its past 15 games, including 0-for-4 in regulation on Saturday, the Wild's 4-on-3 power play hopped over the boards with a chance to play hero.

It took 58 seconds for it to play out that way, but the Wild's man advantage finally took advantage of an opponent when Eric Staal scored 1:52 into the extra session to deliver a much-needed bonus point for the Wild in a 3-2 victory over division-rival Winnipeg on Saturday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center.

Video: WPG@MIN: Staal scores PPG amid scramble in overtime

Minnesota's power play had several chances to do damage on Saturday and came up empty.

Following Marcus Foligno's goal 1:12 into the game, it had almost four straight minutes of time after back-to-back penalties on Neal Pionk gave the Wild several minutes worth of chances to extend its lead.

Nothing came of it.

Of course, Winnipeg got its first power play of the afternoon 22 seconds into the second and cashed in just 17 seconds later.

Video: Locker room postgame vs Winnipeg 

"That's hard for guys, that's difficult," Staal said. "We're resilient staying with it. We adjusted well and capitalized when we needed to."

Midway through the second period, Luke Kunin's double minor for high sticking was actually cancelled out by a pair of Jets penalties just 18 seconds apart. 

Again, the Wild got nothing. 

Another high sticking double minor on Minnesota that bridged the second and third periods gifted the Jets another power play and its first lead of the day 52 seconds into the third period. 

Video: WPG@MIN: Kunin nets spinning goal after Foligno feed

That was until Luke Kunin's tying goal with 5:30 left in the third period sent the game to overtime, it looked like a much different script was being written, one that would involve Minnesota's slumping special teams wearing goat horns. 

Instead, Kunin's goal forced overtime, allowing for a much different, much more satisfying effort for the home team.

"There's not many times you get two 4-on-3's in a game and I think we learned from that first 4-on-3 that we had," said Wild forward Zach Parise. "We talked about trying to do something a little different, and it worked."

One area the Wild will look to shore up is its penalty kill, which allowed the Jets to score twice on Saturday and is operating at a less than 70-percent clip over the past month of action. 

Video: Bruce Boudreau postgame vs Winnipeg

"That's a great power play. We can't underestimate that. We knew exactly what they were doing every time. They didn't fool us by making any plays that we didn't know were going to happen," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "We have to be able to stop that or we have to change the way we kill. Because we can't continue to win at 68 percent."

The win for Minnesota pushed the Wild to within three points of the Jets in the standings. Winnipeg entered the day in the top wild card spot in the Western Conference. It also sets the stage for a crucial matchup on Sunday against the Calgary Flames, who sit two points clear of Minnesota with one game in hand.

Video: WPG@MIN: Foligno buries Eriksson Ek's feed in front

The Wild and Flames will play twice over the next five days, with the rematch coming Thursday night in Calgary. 

A victory on Sunday would salvage a four-game homestand for the Wild which, halfway through the third period, was looking awfully bleak. 

Luckily for the Wild, a beleaguered power play stepped up and saved the day ... and perhaps a homestand.

"That extra point as we know is going to become so vital for somebody," Boudreau said. "I'd rather it be us than anybody else." 


Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 3, Jets 2 (OT)

Video: Staal, Wild rally late to defeat Jets in overtime

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