(The Sports Xchange) - The Minnesota Wild wanted a chance to send their first-round series with the Dallas Stars back to the Twin Cities for Game 6 on Sunday.
And thanks to captain Mikko Koivu scoring the game-tying goal late in regulation and then delivering the game-winner early in overtime, the Wild, who now trail the best-of-7 series, 3-2, remain alive thanks to a 5-4 overtime victory at American Airlines Center on Friday.
“Of course, it’s always nice to score. It’s more important in the bigger picture how you play individually and as a team,” Koivu said. “We’ve been playing better as the series goes on here, and that’s a good sign.”
Koivu scored the game-winner, his third of the series, by redirecting a wrist shot by Ryan Suter from the left point. Koivu knocked Suter’s attempt out of the air, deflecting the puck enough to send it through the five-hole of Stars goaltender Antti Niemi, who stopped 19 of 24 shots.
“We wanted to come back for our fans. They deserve this game,” Wild interim coach John Torchetti said. “I‘m sure our fans will be backing us big time.”
Koivu tied it at 4-4 with 3:09 remaining with his second of the series on a wrist shot from the slot. Mikael Granlund, Jordan Schroeder and Nino Niederreiter also had regulation goals for the Wild and Devan Dubnyk stopped 37 of 41 shots.
“I thought it was pretty calm,” Koivu said of the mood on the Wild bench before he tied it. “We still knew there was a lot of time left. That momentum can switch real quick and it did.”
Jason Pominville, Jared Spurgeon and Suter each had two assists. Granlund had a goal and an assist.
Johnny Oduya, Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza and Alex Goligoski scored for Dallas in regulation and John Klingberg had two assists.
The Stars trailed 2-1 after two, but Benn tied it 1:00 into the third with his third goal of the series. Niederreiter scored his first of the series 50 seconds later to give the Wild back the lead at 3-2.
“We made a lot of mistakes. We made one with about three minutes left that hurt us,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said.
Spezza then scored his third of the series 8:28 into the third period, beating Dubnyk far post with a shot that just got around the outstretched Wild goaltender.
Goligoski, a Minnesota native who had a costly turnover leading to the Wild’s first goal, scored his first of the series 28 seconds after Spezza’s equalizer when his wrist shot from the left point deflected in off the back of Wild defenseman Marco Scandella.
The Wild got their first real break of the series when Granlund scored off a Dallas turnover in front of their goal 3:32 into the game. Granlund intercepted a backhand pass by Goligoski, who was being pressured from behind by David Jones.
Niemi denied Granlund’s initial shot at the near post, but Granlund poked the rebound in for his first of the series.
Minnesota went ahead 2-0 when Schroeder scored off a rebound 5:16 into the opening period. Niemi turned away the initial wrist shot by Suter but Schroeder was at the near post to score off the rebound with a backhand. It was Schroeder’s first career playoff goal.
“We just got caught a little bit flat and they came out pretty hard,” Spezza said. “We should probably be a little better in their start, but we didn’t let it get us down.”
Dallas cut it to 2-1 with 2:42 remaining before the first intermission when Oduya beat Dubnyk far post with a slap shot from the left point. Oduya received a pass from Radek Faksa and scored his first goal of the series with a shot over Dubnyk’s glove.
It was Oduya’s sixth career playoff goal and his first in 29 postseason games, since May 28, 2014, against the Kings with the Blackhawks.
Editing by Peter Rutherford