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(Tuesday, January 29th)
Final Score: Minnesota 3, Columbus 2
St. Paul, MN (Sports Network) - Pierre-Marc Bouchard netted the game-winning goal late in the third period to lift the Minnesota Wild over the Columbus Blue Jackets, 3-2, at Xcel Energy Center.
Mikko Koivu added a goal and an assist, while Tom Gilbert also lit the lamp for the Wild, who snapped a three-game slide. Niklas Backstrom made 17 saves in the victory.
Mark Letestu and Jack Johnson supplied the offense for Columbus, which lost for the fifth time in six games. Steve Mason stopped 23 shots in defeat.
Columbus trailed, 2-1, heading into the third period, but was able to tie the game at the 7:32 mark of the frame while on the power play with Johnson's wrister from the blue line that sailed through a crowd and past Backstrom's glove.
"We came out a little soft and were playing too careful with the lead and they were able to get some momentum out of it," Bouchard said about the third period. "That's a learning process. We have got to be better when we have the lead."
Minnesota, however, regained the lead with 5:19 remaining in the third as Bouchard received a pass at the blue line for a short breakaway and converted on the opportunity with a wrister into the top-left corner.
Bouchard was then awarded a penalty shot a little over a minute later for a chance to add an insurance goal, but his wrister from the left circle was turned aside by Mason to keep it a one-goal game.
The Blue Jackets could not capitalize on the missed opportunity despite receiving a power play soon after as Backstrom made 10 saves in the final period to close out the game.
"We came out and played hard in the third. If guys are waiting for me to motivate them then we're going to have a tough time," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "It's got to come from within and they have got to be ready to go and be ready to do the right things."
Koivu opened the scoring 9:23 into the first period when he grabbed a big rebound of a Jonas Brodin shot and skated around to the right side of the net before bouncing a shot off the back of Mason and into the net from a sharp angle.
Gilbert then made it a 2-0 game heading into the second period as he fired a rebound into an open net with 1:39 left in the opening stanza.
Letestu got the Blue Jackets on the board at the 14:59 mark of the second period by stuffing a loose puck into the net from in close off a James Wisniewski slap shot from the right point.
Minnesota seemed to have answered less than a minute later when Zach Parise batted his own rebound out of midair and into the net, but a replay showed he punched it in with his glove to keep it a 2-1 game entering the third period.
Bouchard's tally was the 100th of his career ... Minnesota improved to 15-5-2 at home against Columbus ... The Blue Jackets went 1-for-4 on the power play ... The Wild was 0-for-2 with the man advantage.
01/29 23:41:39 ET