By Eric Walsh | Minnesota WildST. PAUL, Minn.
-- Minnesota Wild defenseman Keith Carney has played in more playoff games than any of his teammates. But he had yet to experience something quite like this.
In his 87th career post-season skate, Carney sent the overflow sellout crowd of 19,360 at Xcel Energy Center into a frenzy with his first career playoff overtime and game-winning goal to lift the Wild to a 3-2 win, pulling the Western Conference Quarterfinal series even at 1-1.
When Carney deposited his first playoff goal since April 24, 1999, it was posted just 1:14 into the extra session. The triumphant play developed quickly for Carney.
“We got the puck in deep and Mikko Koivu
was the first one on it; he made a good play by protecting it and starting a cycle,” said Carney, who participated in the 1,000th game of his regular-season career on Feb. 24 vs. Calgary. “We were able to cycle a little bit in the corner. I think it was [Pierre-Marc Bouchard
who] was trying to take the puck to the net, and it squirted to the half wall. I just jumped down and tried to get the puck to the net. We had bodies there, so I was trying to get it to the net and hope for the best, and, sure enough, it worked out.”
Brian Rolston was standing right in front of Colorado goalie Jose Theodore, awaiting a possible rebound opportunity on Carney’s blast from the left faceoff dot. He saw the puck go off the skate of Avalanche defenseman Ruslan Salei and into the net.
“That’s the way it always is,” Rolston said. “You watch the playoffs, it’s a shot off the skate. It’s a wraparound goal that goes around somebody. That’s the way the pucks go in, especially in overtime. Those guys are always in good position. That’s exactly what happened. We snuck in, fired the puck, it went off a skate. We got fortunate, and it was a good bounce for us. It was nice to get that win, now it’s a tied series.”
Overtime hockey has ruled the series so far. Joe Sakic broke a 2-2 deadlock at 11:11 in overtime in the series opener Wednesday night in Saint Paul.
“We see each other enough during the season and I have a lot of respect for them," Carney said. "They are a great team. We always have good games against them. They’re always tight, well-fought games and it’s going to be a long series.”