The result was an expectedly entertaining 4-4 tie decided only when New Jersey’s Brian Gionta scored his second goal with 6:27 remaining in regulation Tuesday night. The teams combined for 70 shots as defense became an afterthought.
The Wild’s Marian Gaborik did his part to keep the goals flowing with the sixth three-goal game of his career.
“I don’t think anybody expected to be up and down like it was,” Gaborik said. “With two defensive teams, you don’t expect a lot of goals. It was a good game to watch with a lot of odd-man rushes.”
Sergei Zholtok scored for the seventh time in the last seven games for Minnesota. Zholtok has goals in six of the last seven games.
“Well, we scored goals,” Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. “That’s what people want. That’s what we gave them.”
With the game tied at 3 after two periods, Gaborik completed his hat trick with a power-play goal at 12:12 of the third on a feed from Alexandre Daigle.
“It was real weird,” Gionta said. “It was uncharacteristic of both teams. We both play defense. Obviously, we don’t like to give up that many chances. We scored four but only came out with a tie.”
In the end, the outcome seemed fair.
“It was a pretty evenly matched game,” Devils coach Pat Burns said.
Rasmussen scored the only goal of the first period with 4:07 remaining, and the two normally close-checking teams combined for five second-period goals.
Gaborik pulled Minnesota even 2:02 into the second period. Daigle eluded a Devils defenseman behind the New Jersey goal and slid the puck to Gaborik, who whipped a shot from the slot past Martin Brodeur.
New Jersey reclaimed the lead at 5:28 as intense power-play pressure paid off with Martin’s goal for a 2-1 lead.
Brodeur, known for his strong puck-handling, was victimized for the second time in three games by his own poor clearing attempt. He fired the puck off the boards only to have it intercepted by Zholtok, who fired it into the net before Brodeur could get back into position at 6:38 of the second period.
Brodeur gave up a similar goal to Carolina’s Jeff O’Neill in the Devils’ 4-1 win Saturday.
Gionta put the Devils back in front 3-2 at 10:06, before Gaborik tied thegame again with 1:59 remaining.
Wild G Fernandez made his first start in nine games. … Before the game, the Devils announced former coach Robbie Ftorek had rejoined the organization as coach of its AHL farm team in Albany. … The tie was Minnesota’s league-leading 16th of the season. The Wild are 0-2-16 inovertime.