NHL

Bouchard's goal late in third lifts Wild over Blue Jackets

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Associated Press
1/29/2013 11:59:40 PM
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Concussions have kept Pierre-Marc Bouchard out of Minnesota's lineup most of the past three seasons. He's back now, and it couldn't come at a better time for the Wild.

Bouchard scored the go-ahead goal late in the third period and Minnesota snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on Tuesday night.

With the Wild seemingly on their heels after giving up a two-goal lead, Bouchard took a pass from Torrey Mitchell near the blue line, zoomed past two Columbus defenders and beat goalie Steve Mason above his right glove.

There appeared to be a little extra emotion as Bouchard pumped his fist and dropped to a knee while celebrating the goal.

"It's pretty fun. The last few years have been pretty tough," Bouchard said. "It's good to be back and play those kinds of games and win some hockey games."

Mikko Koivu and Tom Gilbert also scored for Minnesota.

Mark Letestu and Jack Johnson had goals for the Blue Jackets.

After Columbus beat Dallas to snap a four-game skid, the Blue Jackets' flight to the Twin Cities on Monday night was cancelled because of fog, forcing the team to leave on Tuesday at 11 a.m.

Columbus looked sluggish early and trailed 2-0 after the first period.

"We play our best hockey when we're playing from behind, but it seems like we're always playing from behind," Johnson said. "It would be nice to get a lead for a change."

Koivu took a rebound, skated to the side of the net and banked the puck off Mason to open the scoring midway through the first.

Gilbert flicked the puck into an open net after corralling a deflection off a Columbus player's shin pad late in the first to make it 2-0.

Just as it has all season, Minnesota's top line of Zach Parise, Dany Heatley and Koivu did most of the heavy lifting early. The Wild desperately needed a contribution from their other lines, and finally got it.

"Take pressure off the top guys, it's key," Mitchell said. "Secondary scoring is big. Guys are doing the right things and it's going to come around. There's no doubt in the locker room about that. But it's nice to get one, at least tonight."

Parise appeared to make it 3-1 late in the second, but the goal was disallowed after replays showed the puck going in off his extended forearm.

The Blue Jackets have struggled to score after trading Rick Nash to the New York Rangers in the off-season. Columbus has allowed the first goal in five of its first seven games and has just 13 goals on the season.

The Blue Jackets managed only five shots through the first 31 minutes and didn't register a second-period shot until 11 minutes had elapsed.

But just as it did Monday night after falling behind early against Dallas, Columbus came back.

Letestu made it 2-1 late in the second after a long sequence in the Wild end without a whistle.

Johnson's shot from the point on a power play tied it 7:32 into the third. It was Columbus' first goal in its last 23 power-play opportunities.

"You tie it up and you want the point or the two points," former Wild and current Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "But when you sit back and think about the game and the way it went and how you played, in the end we got what we deserved because we weren't good enough for 60 minutes."

Mason robbed Matt Cullen of a goal early in the second, then did the same to Parise on a wraparound attempt late in the second to keep it close heading into the final period.

After Bouchard's goal, the Blue Jackets had another power play but failed to tie the game.

"We've talked a lot about other guys contributing besides the top line, but it's more than just scoring goals," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "It's going out and playing minutes and playing the right way."

NOTES: The game was stopped briefly midway through the second after linesman Thor Nelson was hit in the side of the face with the puck on a clearing attempt. Nelson completed the second period, but didn't come out for the third. The third period was played with just one linesman. ... Koivu has 24 points in 24 career games against Columbus. ... Jared Boll fought Clayton Stoner in the second. Boll entered the game leading the NHL in fighting majors. ... It was the Wild's 500th game at the Xcel Energy Center.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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