COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Trevor Letowski has changed his opinion
Letowski scored in the fifth sudden-death shootout round -- the
NHL's longest tiebreaker this season -- to give Martin Prusek and
the Columbus Blue Jackets a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on
"I'm a pretty big fan of them now," Letowski said with a big
grin. "I had the goose bumps going. To be out there all by
yourself, when all eyes are on you, is quite a feeling. It's pretty
exciting. It's nice to shoot when you have a chance to win it."
Adam Foote scored in the final minute of regulation to force
overtime -- his second pivotal, late goal in as many games.
Columbus had four quality shots in the overtime, extending their
franchise record to 53 shots for the game. The Blue Jackets also
put a record 24 shots on goal in the third period, with Minnesota
goaltender Dwayne Roloson stopping 23.
"I was just trying to focus on the puck and give our guys a
chance to win," Roloson said. "You have to control the things you
can control and for me, that's stopping the puck."
In the three-skater shootout, Todd White gave the Wild the upper
hand only to have Mark Hartigan, called up from Syracuse of the AHL
last week, score on the Blue Jackets' final chance. That forced the
first sudden-death decision in the NHL's brand new tiebreaker
format, instituted this season.
Prusek, who had 31 saves through overtime, and Roloson, who had
52, continually made outstanding stops as the tension mounted.
After Prusek stopped five straight shooters and Roloson turned away
four, Letowski swooped in and beat Roloson high on the stick side
to touch off a wild celebration at mid-ice.
"Harts (Hartigan) mentioned to me on the bench that his blocker
was open," Letowski said. "A lot of the guys were trying to deke
and he was really staying with the deke. My mind-set was shot. I
didn't know exactly where I was going to go. But it was there when
I got in on him."
Columbus was coming off one of its biggest wins in recent
memory, beating Nashville 3-2 Wednesday night on Foote's
short-handed goal 35 seconds into overtime that ruined the
Predators perfect start (8-0-0).
Trailing the Wild 1-0, the Blue Jackets finally broke through
after pulling Prusek for an extra skater. After Columbus won a
faceoff in the offensive zone, Bryan Berard tried a long slap shot
that Roloson stopped in heavy traffic. Foote ended up all alone
with the puck in the high slot and scored.
"Somebody was in front and made the defenseman concentrate on
someone else," Foote said. "I just whacked at it and it went in.
I was a little lucky there."
The Wild caught Columbus defenseman Berard pinching up in the
offensive zone and broke out to a 2-on-1 with Pierre-Marc Bouchard
and Randy Robitaille. Bouchard took a return pass from Robitaille
and had an open net at the right post at 5:15 of the second period.
It was Bouchard's fifth goal of the season and gave him points
in his last three games and nine of 11.
"It was a good hockey game, up and down," Bouchard said. "A
lot of shots, a lot of scrambles. Guys played with intensity and
that makes for a great show. It's too bad we didn't come out on top
in this one."
The rivals, who entered the league together in 2000, meet again
Saturday night in Minnesota.
"They played better than we did," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire
said. "That's what they showed. They deserve what they got. It's
Columbus appeared to score in the second period when Jason
Chimera rushed the net for a shot, the puck popping up in the air
and resting momentarily on Roloson's shoulder. Chimera's momentum
carried him into Roloson, with the puck falling into the net.
But officials ruled that Chimera hit the goaltender the same
time the puck went in and waved off the goal.
Both Roloson and Prusek -- now 2-0 this season after taking over
for Marc Denis -- were outstanding throughout, making big saves on
numerous scoring chances.
"The goaltending was fantastic," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant
said. "Both goalies were fabulous. The shootout went eight deep --
that will show you how good the goaltending was."
Minnesota RW Marian Gaborik is out with a strained hip
flexor and is expected to be put on the injured list, retroactive
to Sunday's game in Chicago. ... A fan sitting two rows behind the
Columbus bench was dressed as a blind hockey referee. ... The game
featured the fewest penalties in a game this season involving
Columbus (8) and the fewest by the Blue Jackets (3). ... Roloson
was one save short of his career high.