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Updated: December 3rd, 2010 10:39pm
Not pointless: Wild falls 3-2 to Flames in a shootout

Not pointless: Wild falls 3-2 to Flames in a shootout

by Jess Myers
1500ESPN.com
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Well, it could have been worse.

The Minnesota Wild lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Calgary Flames on Friday, in what goes in the books as the team's sixth loss in seven games. But the Wild got a point for taking the Flames to overtime, and there were plenty of positive signs for those desperate for any kind of sign that better times are ahead.

After a scoreless first period, it looked like it might be a heartwarming holiday story, albeit briefly. Pierre-Marc Bouchard, skating in his second game after missing more than 100 games with lingering concussion troubles, got his first goal since March 2009, flicking in the rebound of one of his own shots, to give the Wild a 1-0 lead in the second period.

A goal late in the second by the Flames switched the momentum to the side of the visitors, and Calgary took a 2-1 lead early in the third, making it look like the 17,000-some fans who braved the snowy night would go home completely disappointed again.

That's when Martin Havlat - the hottest member of the Wild recently - lifted those fans out of their seats with a highlight-reel goal to tie the game. Havlat, who now has 19 points in the Wild's last 15 games, cut around a Calgary defender, cut to the net and stuffed the puck past Flames goaltender Henrik Karlsson.

"Down 2-1 you need someone to make a play. We really did because we weren't going at that point. And Marty makes a play," Wild coach Todd Richards said. "It was a great individual goal. You have to take pucks to the net to score. Marty is definitely leading the way."

The Wild was out-shot 5-1 by the Flames in the overtime, but got 30 saves from Niklas Backstrom in the game to get to a shootout. There Calgary got goals by Alex Tanguay and former Wisconsin Badger Rene Bourque, versus just one Wild goal, by Patrick O'Sullivan.

The Wild fell to 0-3 in shootouts this season and Richards noted that the recent run of tough games may have more to do what's going on in the players heads than with their legs and hands.

"Without question I believe there is a mental issue going on as far as creating and frustration," he said. "You can see it on some guys and it's not a good emotion. It's very draining."

Havlat, for one, doesn't seem drained despite the reliance on him for so much of the team's offense of late.

"It doesn't matter who scores the goals, it's all about winning," said Havlat, who leads the team with 25 points. "At least we got one point tonight. It's important, especially after the previous losses, and we've got another hard game coming up tomorrow."

Havlat and the rest of the Wild scurried to get out of snowy St. Paul quickly after the game, with a road game in Dallas looming on Saturday night.

Jess Myers covers the Wild and college hockey for 1500ESPN.com. He is a member of the editorial advisory board for USA Hockey Magazine.
Email Jess | @JessRMyers
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