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Spurgeon proves coach's premonition true

Defenseman scores game-winning goal with 12 seconds left in overtime to help Wild over Sharks on Sunday

by Dan Myers @DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- Trailing by two goals in the second period, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau leaned over to assistant coach Bob Woods and told him he had a feeling.

"I said, 'play Spurge a lot, he looks like he's got his mojo today,'" Boudreau said. "And he did."

Boudreau's gut inkling was spot on, as Spurgeon scored the overtime winner with 12 seconds remaining for Minnesota in a 3-2 victory against the San Jose Sharks at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday. 

Spurgeon, playing in his 501st NHL game, scored his 199th point in the League earlier in the game on Sunday when he assisted on Matt Cullen's goal in the closing seconds of the second period.

Video: SJS@MIN: Cullen pots perfect redirect past Jones

His 200th will be far more memorable, and not just because it's a round number.

With time ticking down and the puck in the Wild's offensive zone along the left half wall, the Sharks looked like they were about to head the other way. Brent Burns, one of the NHL's best playmakers from the back end, had the puck and was about to send a headman pass that would have created a 2-on-1.

Video: SJS@MIN: Spurgeon gets 200th NHL point on OT winner

But pestered by Spurgeon, Burns whiffed on the pass, giving the Wild defenseman the puck. He quickly fed Jason Zucker in front of Sharks goaltender Martin Jones. Nobody was within 20 feet of the Wild winger, but the pass was -- admittedly -- not ideal.

"I thought he was going to move a little closer to the net, so I tried to lay it in there for a one-timer, but I put it on his front foot," Spurgeon said. "Brutal pass for an empty net in the front."

So brutal, in fact, that Zucker had to corral it with his skate. By the time he got it to the blade of his stick, Jones was so committed to the wide-open man in front that Zucker did the unthinkable ... he passed it back to Spurgeon.

"Those are kind of hard to pick your head up to shoot it," Zucker said. "I didn't know where Jones was at that point, but I knew Spurgy was there and he was on his one-timer, so I figured I'd just give it back to him and see what happens."

Zucker had a front-row seat for hammer time, as Spurgeon blasted his eighth goal past Jones for the game-winner. 

"I just tried to stay ready, just in case even a rebound came to me," Spurgeon said. "But Zucks made a great play and I had nothing but open net to shoot at."

The win was only Minnesota's second of the season when trailing after two periods (2-13-2). For 39 minutes, the Wild couldn't solve Jones, who was spectacular, particularly during a 19-shot second period.

But on the 19th shot, Spurgeon's quick pass to Cullen was redirected just inside the nearside post to get Minnesota on the board.

"[Jones] just looked like he was in a zone," Boudreau said. "I didn't know if three was going to be possible. I was saying, 'All we need is two and then we'll worry about the other one.'"

Minnesota continued its push in the third, tying the game on Eric Staal's wraparound try with 4:44 to play in regulation. The goal was his 30th, as he became the fifth Wild player in franchise history to reach that mark and the first since Zach Parise scored 33 in 2014-15.

Video: SJS@MIN: Staal nets game-tying goal off Vlasic in 3rd

For San Jose, it was its second loss of the season when leading after 40 minutes (23-0-2). 

"We hadn't won in the last two at home and coming off a high on the road you don't want to come home and all of a sudden start losing at home," Boudreau said. "And I think the guys took that to heart and I think probably the last two periods might've been as good of a two periods as we've played in a long time."


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