Sunday's game with the Florida Panthers was a 50-50 affair. A one-goal-game that can go either way in the NHL. True, this wouldn't have been the case had Nino put the puck in the net early in the first instead of hitting a post, but he didn't. And so, the Wild were in the middle of the third period in a tie game with roughly equal shots on goal, and time to find a winner ticking away.
Like the army of Rohan in Helm's Deep, the Wild were losing hope. Suddenly, like Gandalf at the head of the Forest Army (YES IN THE BOOK HE SAVES THEM WITH TREES GET OVER IT), a hero appeared. Erik Haula, back on defense, took a swipe at a puck in what seemed an attempt simply to clear the zone. It was more effective than he planned, and he turned to try to create offense.
Haula gets a bit of luck, as the Panther's attempt to re-enter hits Erik. The Finn has the calm of mind to take the puck and go full-bore at the net. He splits the defenders, fights through the harassment, and roofs one over Roberto Luongo.
From there on out, while the Panthers did have another power play, the Wild had control of the game. This was doubly true when the Panthers took a too-many-men penalty. The Wild missed the open net twice, but third time was the charm and the Wild earned their first Xcel Center win in
franchise history ... this season ... this year ... a while.