You’ve got to give the Wild a ton of credit.
The cards weren’t stacked against them on Sunday night at Xcel Energy Center. It was more like the entire deck.
Already without star winger Kevin Fiala, who is currently serving a three-game suspension, the Wild lost winger Marcus Foligno, defenseman Matt Dumba, and winger Marcus Johansson in the hours leading up to puck drop with the rival Colorado Avalanche. All for different reasons.
While both Dumba and Johansson suffered injuries on Saturday night, and thus, probably weren’t expected to play, Foligno’s absence came as a complete shock. He was added to the league’s COVID list on Sunday morning and won’t be available for the foreseeable future.
That said, Wild coach Dean Evason wouldn’t let his group feel sorry for themselves.
“We are still in the NHL and still playing, right?” Evason said. “When that puck is dropped we are going to compete our (butts) off.”
That’s exactly what the Wild did in a highly entertaining, highly unlikely 4-3 overtime win over the rival Avalanche.
After battling tooth and nail for 60 minutes with the Stanley Cup favorites, defenseman Jonas Brodin played hero for the Wild 18 seconds into the extra session. He ripped a one-timer into the back of the net after a perfect pass from winger Jordan Greenway, who now has a team-high 10 points.
As incredible as the ending was for the Wild, the start was less than ideal as the Avalanche took a 1-0 lead on their first shot. It happened quickly as star center Nathan MacKinnon raced into the zone and found winger Joonas Donskoi, who lined a one-timer past goaltender Cam Talbot.
While it looked like the game was in danger of getting away from the Wild, Greenway tied the game at 1-1 midway through the first period.
That gave the Wild some life, and center Victor Rask actually helped them take a 2-1 lead early in the second period, finishing off a perfect pass from captain Jared Spurgeon.
Unfortunately for the Wild, dynamic defenseman Cale Makar scored a highlight-reel goal a couple of minutes later to help the Avalanche level the score at 2-2.
That score held into the third period where veteran winger Brandon Saad gave the Avalanche a 3-2 lead with a rising shot from in close. Surely, that would be enough to make the Wild go away, right?
Not so fast. After a dominant shift by star rookie Kirill Kaprizov in the offensive zone, a puck bounced to Rask in the slot and he promptly ripped it into the back of the net to tie the game at 3-3.
That set the stage for overtime where Brodin made sure the Wild walked away with the win.