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Jackets fit to be tied with Wild

Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Unable to join his Latvian teammates at the Olympics in Salt Lake City, Sergei Zholtok did his job half a continent away.

Zholtok scored twice for the second straight game, including the tying goal with 2:32 left to lift the Minnesota Wild to a 3-3 tie with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.

But Zholtok, captain of Latvia's Olympic team, was visibly upset as he watched his countrymen get eliminated by Germany on television in the Wild locker room.

"If I cannot be there, I'd rather be performing well here," he said.

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With Minnesota forcing the action in the final minutes, Zholtok pounced on a loose puck near the right hash mark and slapped it past goalie Marc Denis for his 16th goal of the season.

"It was one of those games where we battled back and showed some character," Zholtok said. "We were losing the entire game, but we still came up with a big point."

The Blue Jackets, 0-3-1-1 in their last five home games, never trailed.

"It was not a great tie," Columbus coach Dave King said. "We played a pretty good game, actually, and then found a way to get scored on late in the game again. That's happened to us quite a bit this year. The guys are disappointed."

Minnesota 1 1 1 0 --; 3

; Columbus 2 0 1 0 --; 3

; First Period-- 1, Columbus, Klesla 6 (Sanderson, Kron), 4:28. 2, Minnesota, Zholtok 15 (Sekeras, Brunette), 16:05 (pp). 3, Columbus, Sanderson 4 (Whitney, Knutsen), 18:09 (pp).

Second Period-- 4, Minnesota, J.Marshall 3 (Schultz, Hendrickson), 12:55 (pp).

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Third Period-- 5, Columbus, Quint 6 (Knutsen, Whitney), 2:13 (pp). 6, Minnesota, Zholtok 16, 17:23.

Overtime-- No scoring.

Shots on goal-- Minnesota 7-11-9-7-- 34. Columbus 11-9-7-3-- 30.

Goalies-- Minnesota, Fernandez. Columbus, Denis. A-- 18,136 (18,007).

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