Wild rally past Flyers
PHILADELPHIA — It's a little late for character victories when the only way to make the playoff math work in the Wild's favor is an improbable Detroit Red Wings meltdown and basically winning every game the rest of the season.
And that's for starters. A bunch of other teams would have to lose, too.
But the Wild showed a lot of moxie rallying for a 4-3 overtime victory over the Flyers inside the always-hostile Wachovia Center on Thursday night.
First, captain and leading scorer Mikko Koivu was out because of an arm injury. Second, a horrific, turnover-filled first five minutes gave the Flyers an immediate two-goal lead. Last, after third-period goals by Martin Havlat and Andrew Brunette tied the score, the man who scored his second career overtime winner, Kyle Brodziak, had to brush off Ian Laperriere's high hit that left him dazed and confused minutes earlier.
"I blacked out for half a second or a second, had that buzzing in my head, ears were ringing, but I remember everything," Brodziak said.
On the day NHL teams watched a video to illustrate blindside hits to the head that now will be subject to supplemental discipline, the Wild believes Laperriere executed such a hit. Although there is debate as to whether Lapperiere's shoulder hit Brodziak on the chin or simply up high, it definitely was late and "almost seemed exactly the video we just watched," Brodziak said.
Brodziak returned, and in overtime took a shot that hit goalie Brian Boucher's shoulder, popped in the air and caromed in off Boucher's skate for the winner.
"It was definitely a weird goal. I'll take it," Brodziak said.
It was the fifth time this season the Wild has rallied to win after trailing by two or more goals.
"We've had to battle a lot of adversity this year, and this one's no different," coach Todd Richards said. "We're down players, we've got guys playing through injuries. It says a lot about the character and leadership in the room."
Andrew Ebbett had a hat trick of sorts in the first five minutes. A puck rolled off his stick on a shorthanded breakaway, and then two turnovers led directly to goals by Oskars Bartulis and Simon Gagne 39 seconds apart.
Richards called timeout "and calmed everybody down," defenseman John Scott said. "He's like, 'Listen. We've got 55 minutes left. Lots of hockey left. Just go from here.'"
The Wild, even though it went the final 14:09 of the first period without a shot, held the deficit to 2-0 until Marek Zidlicky scored a power-play goal 34 seconds into the second. A Havlat turnover led to Daniel Carcillo's goal for a 3-1 Philadelphia lead, but Havlat made amends by picking Carcillo's pocket in the third en route to a pretty Guillaume Latendresse-to-Havlat tally.
With 6:37 left, after rookie Casey Wellman stole a pass to begin a long forecheck, Brunette deflected Scott's point shot for the tying goal.
"It was great team effort," Havlat said. "We didn't have a great start, but we battled to the last second."
Digging deep at center
With no Koivu, the Wild's top-four centers in order were Ebbett, who twice has been on waivers this season;, Brodziak, a career checker; James Sheppard, who has no points since Dec. 11; and Wellman, a college player two weeks ago.
Brodziak said, "Good opportunity for guys, me included."
Koivu, who is on the trip to receive treatment but won't play Friday in Detroit, twisted an arm when he hooked San Jose's Manny Malhotra on Tuesday. Richards said this is "another opportunity" for Sheppard, who played well Thursday.
"And for a young player looking for opportunity, there's none better than when there's ice time available," Richards said.
—Defenseman Clayton Stoner was in Philadelphia with the Wild so he could be examined by a local abdominal specialist about his sports hernia.
Stoner, 25, who hasn't played since Jan. 5, will miss the rest of the season after last month's surgery didn't fix the problem.
"I hurt it worse by trying to come back," Stoner said. "It's not getting better. I don't want more surgery, but who knows? I just want to make sure I get healthy for the start of next year and get this problem solved so it doesn't continue all my career. Whatever it takes just to get ready for next year is my goal."
—The Wild recalled center Cody Almond, but he was scratched because a banged-up Latendresse played.
—Enforcer Derek Boogaard returned after missing five games because of a nose injury.