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Joel Eriksson Ek and the Minnesota Wild put on quite a show for the first full house at the Xcel Energy Center in 19 months.

The Wild were overwhelmed with gratitude for their help off the ice from start to finish.

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Eriksson Ek had a hat trick, scoring a puck in the air to tie the game with 59 seconds left in rule and winning it on the power play in overtime to stun the Winnipeg Jets 6-5 in a raucous home opener Tuesday night.

Eriksson Ek scored the equalizer just 15 seconds after an empty net from Jets center Mark Scheifele was wiped out by an offside call on Kyle Connor that came from a replay challenge recommended by video coaches Jonas Plumb and TJ Jindra.

“None of them will take the credit if you talk to them, but it was a great decision,” said Wild head coach Dean Evason.

Instead of taking a two-goal lead in the locker room, the Jets were suddenly on their heels as the Wild ended the third period with an 18-5 advantage.

“Just one of those things with a little attention to detail on my part.” Just stay on the field and you win a game, ”said Connor, who had two goals and an assist to fuel an eight-point night for Winnipeg’s new frontline minus Blake Wheeler as the captain is put on the line. the gap by COVID-19.

Josh Morrissey was called up for holding Kirill Kaprizov near the middle of overtime, giving the Wild a 4-on-3. Eriksson Ek scored in a 3-1 run to beat Connor Hellebuyck, who allowed 14 goals in three losses to start the season.

“This is how hockey works. It will test you. It’s going to push you, but these guys are fighting, ”Scheifele said.

Hellebuyck stopped 38 shots. Cam Talbot made 25 saves for the Wild, none greater than Logan Stanley’s refusal on a 2-1 just ahead of winner Eriksson Ek.

Mats Zuccarello had two goals and two assists, Marcus Foligno scored on the power play with 4:58 left in regulation and Kaprizov notched three assists for the Wild in this fiery revival of the League rivalry. central division with the Jets.

The Wild got goosebumps on the bench as the crowd roared in approval during a third period stoppage, more than happy to have their fans fully behind them again. They played with an even deeper goal than usual in honor of the late Tom Kurvers, their deputy general manager who died of cancer in June. The Wild released a tribute video to Kurvers ahead of the game and his presence was felt all night long.

“You just have to believe there’s a guardian angel on you tonight, and Tom was really supporting us,” Foligno said.

Wheeler, who has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss at least three more games. was replaced on the right wing by Andrew Copp, who scored one goal and two assists. Scheifele notched two assists.

Pierre-Luc Dubois scored the deciding goal early in the third period and Morrissey also scored for Winnipeg, who lost leads 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 5-3.

“It’s a tough and good battle on the road,” said coach Paul Maurice. “We’ll take pieces of it, but not that last minute and a half.”

The first game between these teams in 653 days was as fiery and frenzied as ever, as if both teams were trying to make up for lost time in the 2020-21 season adapted to the pandemic that has only pitted the Jets against each other. Canadian teams.

Kaprizov was penalized for brutalizing half of a Wild’s power play in the first period, and as soon as he came back from the box he started fighting Dubois.

Just after Eriksson Ek sneaked past Hellebuyck to tie at 2 shortly before the first intermission, Foligno and Brenden Dillon let the gloves drop. Foligno used a kung fu-style kick to start the fight and skated off the ice to a rousing ovation.

Zuccarello was credited with the strangest goal of the game when an unfortunate bodycheck from Hellebuyck blew the puck on Morrissey and tied the score at 3 at the end of the second period. The Wild almost took the lead in the dying seconds when Jonas Brodin’s shot was muffled by Hellebuyck’s stomach. Ryan Hartman pushed him, but officials declared the game dead and denied the goal.

“That’s how a hockey game should be,” said Zuccarrello, especially with the returning fans.

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FOLLOWING

The Jets face Anaheim in their home opener on Thursday.

Host the Wild Anaheim on Saturday, as the Ducks complete a four-game trip.


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