Koivu scores OT winner, lifts Wild to victory over Flames
Minnesota defenseman Matt Dumba did a little bit of everything for the Wild, and his coach took notice.
Dumba scored his third goal of the season in the first period, made a game-saving defensive play in overtime, and seconds later started the breakout that led to Mikko Koivu’s winning goal as the Wild edged the Calgary Flames 3-2 on Wednesday night.
Left wide open in the slot, Koivu took a pass from Charlie Coyle, skated in on Jonas Hiller, and put a shot over the goalie’s shoulder at 1:50 for his ninth goal of the season.
It was Dumba’s play seconds earlier, however, thwarting what looked to be a sure goal for Flames leading scorer Jiri Hudler, that was the key.
"I thought that was his best game as a pro, even before that moment," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "That he can step up in a game like that when we lose a guy, and he’s able to elevate his game to that level, I’m happy for him."
Opportunity knocked when the Wild lost defenseman Jared Spurgeon two shifts into the game after he was struck in the face by a puck. He didn’t return due to an undisclosed upper-body injury.
That meant more responsibility for the 20-year-old Dumba, who logged a career-high of 18 minutes, 20 seconds of playing time.
"I believe in my defensive game," Dumba said after his 46th NHL game. "Showing it tonight was huge, and being able to capitalize on the opportunity I got was awesome."
The Wild improved to 5-7 in overtime. The Flames fell to 11-4.
Justin Fontaine also scored in regulation for Minnesota (29-21-7). The Wild have been one of the NHL’s hottest teams, going 11-2-2 in their last 15. They have climbed within one point of the San Jose Sharks, who hold the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Hudler and Lance Bouma scored for Calgary (32-22-4), which is 6-2-1 in its last nine.
"It’s nice to get a point there but, at the same time, we’re not happy about it," Bouma said. "Our effort wasn’t the best to start the game off."
After Fontaine opened the scoring for Minnesota at 8:40 of the first period, Dumba made it 2-0 less than three minutes later — sending a perfect wrist shot into the top corner.
"It’s always nice scoring in Calgary. I remember even back to my WHL days getting a goal in the `Dome. It is pretty sweet with your family here," Dumba said.
The Flames moved into sole possession of second place in the Pacific Division — one point ahead of Vancouver, which has two games in hand.
Down 2-1, Calgary tied it at 10:14 of the third when Bouma fired a wrist shot from the wing that beat Devan Dubnyk inside the far goal post.
However, the Flames couldn’t complete the comeback as they have so many times this season. Dubnyk made 35 saves to improve to 11-2-1 since being acquired by Minnesota from Arizona.
"Obviously, we didn’t want to give them two, and we wanted to win that game in overtime," Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman said. "But to get it there and get that one point and make sure it’s not a two-point swing, that’s a positive that we can take out of it."
The Wild took a 1-0 lead at 8:40 of the first period when Fontaine completed a pretty passing sequence with Coyle and Thomas Vanek, chipping a shot over Hiller’s glove.
Minnesota surged in front 2-0 less than three minutes later when Dumba carried the puck over the Flames blue line and wristed a shot into the top corner from the top of the circle.
The Flames cut the deficit in half at 17:08 when Hudler deflected Wideman’s shot out of the air and between Dubnyk’s pads. It was close to being a high-stick, but it was ruled a goal on the ice and was confirmed by a video review.
NOTES: LW Michael Keranen was scratched by Minnesota. He was called up from Iowa of the AHL in case Vanek was unable to play due to an injury sustained in the previous game. … Out of the lineup for the Flames was Paul Byron. … Minnesota has scored first in 10 of 11 games. Calgary has allowed the first goal in 11 of 13.