Dany Heatley's last-second goal keeps Wild alive for shootout win
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Edmonton Oilers' goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin saved every shot he faced for 59 minutes and 58 seconds before Dany Heatley was able to squeeze a puck just inside the post to tie the game at a goal apiece -- a goal that kept the Minnesota Wild alive long enough for Matt Cullen to come through in a shootout at Rexall Arena in Edmonton.
Cullen scored the only goal of the shootout that the Wild would need, and the extra two points were secured when former Wild center Eric Belanger clanged his shot off the post after beating goalie Niklas Backstrom.
The Wild got the full points against their Northwest Division rivals for the second time in seven days after they also won 2-1 in a shootout last Thursday in St Paul.
The Oilers' Ryan Jones opened the scoring in the first period on Thursday night with a goal at 16:06
The Wild had every opportunity the rest of the way to equalize but they kept being frustrated by Khabibulin who stopped the first 28 shots he faced with relative ease.
Backstrom kept the Wild in the game after giving up the goal to Jones, making save-after-save and not allowing another goal the final 40:34 of play, including a perfect overtime and shootout.
Wild captain Mikko Koivu avoided a scare late in the third period when he caught teammate Dany Heatley's skate on the chin, just narrowly avoiding his neck and a much scarier situation. Koivu was checked on the bench before retreating to the locker room for stitches. Koivu would not return.
It was confirmed after the game that Koivu received stitches but no further update on his status was given.
The teams meet for a third time on Nov 23 in St Paul.
With Backstrom pulled and a frustrating game for the Wild about to end, a shot by Bouchard bounced off the chest of Khabilbulin before trickling out to the stick of Heatley who fired in a wrist shot from 10 feet away at a 0 degree angle. Khabibulin failed to secure the post and the shot trickled in between him and post.
The Oilers got the best of the Wild in the five minute overtime session but failed to get any of their four shots past Backstrom.
The Wild had to do without shoot-out regular Koivu but were able to get the money without their captain.
Cullen scored the only goal of the shoot-out with a backhand goal past Khabibulin. Backstrom saved the first two attempts from Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins before Belanger's shot rang off the post and sent the Wild away with two points snatched from the jaws of defeat.
• 1: Second on the clock when Heatley's game-tying goal went into the net.
• 28: Consecutive saves by Khabibulin before giving up the goal to Heatley
• 11: Number of years it had been since the Wild had been shutout in Edmonton. Had it not been for Heatley's goal, the Wild would have been shutout for the first time since their inaugural road trip to Edmonton as a franchise in 200.
Oilers - Ryan Jones 1 (Ryan Smyth), 16:06
Wild - Dany Heatley 2 (Pierre-Marc Buchard (Devin Setoguchi), 19:58
Shots: Wild 7-10-12-2-31; Edmonton Oilers 9-9-9-4-31. Saves: Wild, Niklas Backstrom (31-30); Edmonton Oilers: Nickoli Khabibulin (31-30). Power plays: Wild 0-for-4, Edmonton Oilers 0-2.
1. Nickoli Khabibulin
2. Niklas Backstrom
3. Ladislav Smid
The two game Canadian road trip continues Saturday when the Wild take on division rival Vancouver Canucks for the first time in 2011-12.
The Wild will look to carry the momentum from Thursday night when they try to win consecutive games for the first time this season.