<
>

Walz scores creative OT goal to cap Wild comeback

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Wes Walz was in the net, and the goal
light was on.

When it all sorted out, Minnesota had its sixth straight home
victory.

Walz scored a controversial goal 1:29 into overtime to give
Minnesota a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday
night.

Martin Skoula's centering attempt deflected up the leg of Walz,
who was being checked into the net by Jason Chimera, and lodged in
Walz's equipment. It took nearly 7 minutes for the review that
confirmed the goal.

"I honestly didn't know where the puck was," Walz said. "I am
just thankful that they could see the puck. I was hoping it wasn't
one of those commonsense deals that the puck is in my pants, I'm in
the back of the net, but because they can't see the puck in the net
he wasn't going to call it."

Instead, Referee Tom Kowal said a penalty was to be called and
the whistle blew because the puck could not be seen. "We wave it
off, we have no goal on the ice. The play is under review between
here in the building and Toronto. Shows the puck going in Walz's
equipment, and Walz is completely in the net. It's a goal."

Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock would only say, "The goal will
be a mess and it will be discussed forever."

He was more upset that the Blue Jackets were whistled for 11
penalties, compared to four for Minnesota.

"You can't continue to kill penalties and expect to win,
especially on the road," he said. "We just ran out of steam
because it was back-to-back and we had to use a short bench because
of that."

Brian Rolston had two power-play goals, and Pavol Demitra also
scored on the power play for the Wild.

Chimera, Joakim Lindstrom and Alexander Svitov scored for
Columbus, which blew a 4-3 third-period lead to Detroit Thursday and
lost 7-4.

Rolston tied it at 3 at 7:25 of the third period, one-timing a
pass from Kurtis Foster past Ty Conklin from above the right
circle.

Then the goalies took over, with their best saves coming just
seconds apart.

Minnesota's Manny Fernandez, who finished with 26 saves, stopped
Rick Nash on a short-handed breakaway with about eight minutes to
play, and a shot by Rolston was deflected by Conklin.

Coach Jacques Lemaire, who has been critical of Fernandez in
recent days for not coming up with the big stop when his team
needed one, said the stop on Nash was "the whole game. ... That is
what we are looking for from our goaltender."

Minnesota needed the lift after losses in Toronto and Detroit
earlier this week extended Minnesota's winless road streak to 10
games. The Wild, who are tied with Anaheim for the league lead in
home victories with 15, are home for their next four outings.

"When that happens you have got to win games at home," Foster
said. "We need to win as many of these as we can and we have to
eventually take this confidence from home on the road."

Chimera gave Columbus the lead with the lone goal of the first
period.

Nikolai Zherdev chased the puck down just below the right circle
and centered it to Chimera, charging down the slot, for a tip past
Fernandez.

In his sixth NHL game, Lindstrom put the Blue Jackets up 2-0
early in the second period, converting a pass from Nash, the
recipient of a turnover by Brent Burns below the end line. It was
Lindstrom's first career goal.

Rolston answered for Minnesota 2 minutes later, beating Conklin
with a slap shot.

Conklin, recalled from Syracuse of the AHL on Thursday to
replace the injured Pascal Leclaire, finished with 20 saves. It was
his first Columbus start after signing with the Blue Jackets as a
free agent on July 6. He appeared in two games in relief earlier
this month.

"I felt like I haven't played for a while, felt like I hadn't
played in the NHL for a while, for a couple of months," Conklin
said.

Demitra scored at 8:01 of the second period when he tipped a
shot from Todd White past Conklin to tie the game, but Svitov
tipped a shot from David Vyborny past Fernandez with 52 seconds
left in the second period for a 3-2 Columbus lead. Vyborny has six
points in his last three games.

Game notes
Eight of Minnesota's 15 home wins have come in overtime or
a shootout. ... Conklin was 2-10-1 in Syracuse, but had a .905 save
percentage. ... Minnesota LW Stephane Veilleux returned after
missing three games with a broken nose. ... Wild D Petteri
Nummelin, who skated before the team's morning skate, missed his
fifth straight game with an upper body injury. ... Columbus has
scored at least three goals in 13 of 18 games since Ken Hitchcock
became coach Nov. 22.