Wild win in SO, clinch playoff spot
ST. PAUL — Center Mikko Koivu scored the only goal in a shootout as the Minnesota Wild rallied for a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, clinching a return trip to the NHL playoffs.
The Wild (42-26-12) got two goals from right winger Jason Pominville and tied the score at 3 with 1:05 left in regulation when defenseman Ryan Suter scored with an extra attacker on the ice.
Left winger Loui Ericksson, right winger Reilly Smith and center Patrice Bergeron scored for Boston (53-18-8). Goalie Tuukka Rask had 21 saves for the Bruins, who are 16-1-3 in their past 20 games and are close to clinching the Presidents’ Trophy.
With the score tied 2-2 in the latter stages of the second period, Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara launched a shot from the blue line that first center Gregory Campbell and then Ericksson redirected past Minnesota goalie Illya Bryzgalov.
The teams traded goals early and often in an offense-heavy first period. Pominville’s first goal came just 65 seconds into the game on a power play when he whistled a shot through traffic from the blue line.
Minnesota’s lead lasted less than two minutes. Smith evened the score, also on a power play, with a similar shot from the blue line. The puck found its way through a crowd en route to the Wild net.
Bergeron’s goal, his 29th of the season, came midway through the first period and gave Boston a 2-1 lead. He snapped a shot from close range that eluded Bryzgalov after the goalie had made two saves.
Pominville re-tied the score just 28 seconds later, tipping a shot past Rask from the top of the crease after a pass from left winger Matt Moulson.
Bryzgalov had 21 saves and stopped Bergeron, Smith and center Brad Marchand in the shootout. He is now 7-0-3 since joining the Wild at the trade deadline last month.
The Bruins’ point, coupled with the Blues’ loss to Washington, means that Boston has a three-point lead over St. Louis with three games to play in the race for the NHL’s best regular-season mark.
Notes: Boston’s first period power-play goal by RW Reilly Smith snapped Minnesota G Illya Bryzgalov’s shutout streak at 145:15. Bryzgalov blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins and Winnipeg Jets in his previous two starts. ... Boston D Kevan Miller and RW Jarome Iginla both skated with the team in practice, but neither played Tuesday. Miller has an undisclosed injury and is listed as day-to-day. Iginla, who has been scratched from three of the Bruins past four games with a lower-body injury, is the all-time leader vs. the Wild in points (67), goals (37) and game-winning goals (10) in 71 games. ... Wild G Josh Harding has been nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy by the Twin Cities chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Harding, who has not played since December while battling multiple sclerosis, still leads the NHL in goals-against-average and save percentage. Harding won the trophy last season. ... The Bruins, who are playing seven of their final nine regular season games on the road, play next vs. the Jets on Thursday in Winnipeg. The Wild concluded their regular season road schedule on Monday in Winnipeg, finishing 17-17-7 away from home. They host the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.