Bouchard continues way back with key goal
JAN 29, 2013 10:00p ET
Returning home, the Wild got the secondary scoring it needed and everyone could appreciate who supplied the help.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who has returned to the Minnesota lineup this season after three years plagued by concussion symptoms, scored the game-winner to give the Wild a 3-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night. Bouchard, who has played in every game this season after being limited to 97 games the past three seasons, scored his second goal of the season with 5:19 seconds left in the third period after Columbus had erased a 2-0 Minnesota lead.
"Yeah, it's pretty fun," Bouchard said. "The last few years have been pretty tough. It's good to be back and play those kinds of games and win some hockey games."
Koivu and defenseman Tom Gilbert also scored for the Wild (3-2-1). Koivu added an assist on Gilbert's goal as the top line continued to generate scoring chances.
"Obviously our top line's been doing a pretty good job for us and that's to be expected," Gilbert said. "They're great players. Tonight was a great effort from all the lines. Guys are itching to get that goal, their first goal of the year and its coming. It's coming; just got to stick with it and it will come."
Bouchard's goal Tuesday came in an unexpected manner. Bouchard, who has been playing on the second line with rookie Mikael Granlund and Devin Setoguchi, took the ice with Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell on the fourth line after Minnesota had been on the penalty kill three times in the period. Bouchard had taken Darroll Powe's spot for a shift and Mitchell found Bouchard crossing the blue line, gave him the pass and Bouchard wristed a shot high past Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason's glove hand.
Bouchard's goal was his first since scoring in the season-opener against the Colorado Avalanche. Bouchard, once a 63-point scorer for Minnesota, doesn't feel he's all the way back after missing much of the past three seasons, but he can feel it coming.
"I'm getting there," Bouchard said. "I'm not playing my best hockey so far. I know I can be better. Some aspects, I've been OK, but some aspects I've got to be better."
The rest of the lineup was much the same way heading into Tuesday. Yeo's simple message after Sunday's overtime loss was that Parise, Koivu and Heatley needed help. Of the three goals not scored by the top line, Bouchard and Granlund's both came in the first game. Gilbert scored his first of the season on Friday at Detroit.
In Sunday's 5-4 overtime loss at St. Louis, Parise had two goals and Koivu and Heatley provided the others.
"Mikko's line, they've been playing some solid hockey since the beginning of the season," Bouchard said. "We need to support them. The other lines need to play some better hockey and be a little bit more productive."
And everyone on the Wild enjoys seeing Bouchard healthy and productive after the past few seasons.
"It's not just all the things he brings every day to the rink, on the ice," said goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who made 17 saves. "It's more for him. It's hard for a hockey player to be out, to be hurt. Look at his last three years, it's been really tough for him, so it's just fun to see him here every day at the rink with us."
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