There's just something about Hockey Day Minnesota that seems to bring out the best from Wild defensemen.
In this case, it was a flair for the dramatic.
In what has become a bit of a tradition on Minnesota's unofficial hockey holiday, it was a defenseman who scored the game-winning goal to cap the festivities.
This time it was Matt Dumba playing the hero, literally scoring a last second goal in the waning moments of overtime to secure a 4-3 victory at Xcel Energy Center.
Dumba's heroics extended the Wild's winning streak to six games and moved the club to 12-2-1 all time on Hockey Day Minnesota.
Video: LAK@MIN: Dumba beats the clock for overtime win
Ryan Suter was credited with the game winner to cap Hockey Day 2017 in a win against the Anaheim Ducks, Nate Prosser scored his second Hockey Day Minnesota winner in 2018 against the Tampa Bay Lightning while Jared Spurgeon scored the deciding tally in a shutout win against the Dallas Stars in 2020.
It was the first Hockey Day nightcap to end in overtime since 2014, when Prosser, an Elk River native, scored the dramatic game-winner on the day his hometown served as host.
Dumba's winner on Saturday had a similar feel.
With COVID-19 delaying festivities in Mankato - 2021's original host - until next January, the John Rose Oval in Roseville served as a stand-in host. In the backdrop of the live shots from the Rose Oval were young hockey players participating in Dumba's Hockey Without Limits Camp, which itself was delayed by the pandemic.
The Hockey Without Limits Camp was designed to provide an inclusive and diverse environment to showcase the game to groups of kids that may otherwise not be able to play the sport.
The day has been a long time coming for Dumba, the reigning King Clancy Memorial Trophy winner, who has made community outreach a priority.
"Honestly, there were so many emotions today. I woke up, I was so excited that it was finally here and happening," Dumba said. "To see the videos of the kids and the pictures throughout the day of them just having a blast just gave me all the motivation in the world to come out tonight and really focus and try to give my best and just have a real solid game so I couldn't have asked for a better ending."
The camp ended at 8 p.m., plenty of time for the kids to get home and see Dumba's heroics.
The Wild led 3-0 early in the second period on Kirill Kaprizov's goal and appeared on its way to another easy win during its streak.
Video: LAK@MIN: Kaprizov one-times puck home to extend lead
But Drew Doughty scored a power-play goal less than two minutes after Kaprizov's tally to make it 3-1.
The turning point came a few minutes later, when Jared Spurgeon appeared to put the Wild up by three again with a power-play goal of his own. But Los Angeles challenged, saying there was goaltender interference. And they were right.
Instead of a 4-1 lead, it was 3-2 later in the same period after Austin Wagner blocked a point shot by Jonas Brodin and scored on the ensuing breakaway.
Video: Dean Evason Postgame vs Los Angeles
"We didn't have our best game and we were happy that our group caught themselves probably midway through the second period attitude wise," said Wild coach Dean Evason. "It was a frustrating kind of game with penalties and we were a little disjointed."
Minnesota played a strong third period, but another penalty resulted in the tying goal with under three minutes to play. Anze Kopitar won the faceoff back to Doughty, who fed Kempe on the right point. He was a split second early on his one-timer, but the puck knuckled past Kaapo Kahkonen anyway, tying the game at 3-3.
Minnesota had several great chances on a power play in overtime but the game appeared headed for a shootout until Mats Zuccarello's unbelievable pass from the left-wing boards in the offensive zone found Dumba streaking towards the goal all by himself.
"Eyes in the back of his head," Dumba said. "I don't know how he saw me through all those guys but it was a hell of a pass."
With time running down, Dumba deked goaltender Cal Petersen and got the puck back on his forehand, shooting into a yawning cage with 0.3 seconds left on the clock.
The overtime win was Minnesota's third against the Kings this season and fourth overall.
It was Dumba's sixth career overtime winner, a franchise record.
"Honestly, I have to tell myself to calm down a little," Dumba said of his mentality in overtime. "It's always kind of in the back of my mind but I was just focusing on making the right play and not trying to force it. Just so happened that Zuccy was able to find me."
Video: LAK@MIN: Eriksson Ek whacks puck home for goal
Joel Eriksson Ek and Nico Sturm scored first-period goals as Minnesota built an early lead. For Eriksson Ek, it was his team-leading eighth goal of the season, which tied a career best he set last year in 62 games.
"I play with great players. Just trying to work hard together, talk a lot, see how the other guys are thinking," Eriksson Ek said. "Just trying to be around the net and just watching all the guys at practice and how they are trying to do, and I just learn from it."
Video: LAK@MIN: Bjugstad, Sturm team up to double lead
Sturm's goal was his third in as many games after going his first 20 NHL contests without a goal. Blaine native Nick Bjugstad and Dumba had assists on the play, continuing a trend of the Wild getting contributions from up and down the lineup.
"Everybody's chipping in," said Wild forward Kevin Fiala. "It's been fun being around the rink and everybody's done a great job. All the lines are playing great, I feel like, all the defensemen, the goalies are awesome. Everybody's very happy, so we just have to keep rolling."
Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 4, Kings 3 (OT)
Video: Dumba's late OT goal leads Wild to sixth straight win