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Huge home favorite Wild nip Jets, 2-1

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Wild continued their strong play at home.

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Mikko Koivu scored two goals, including the winner with 3:12 remaining, and the Wild beat the Jets 2-1 to extend their winning streak to four games.

With the game tied at 1-1, Koivu scored the winner with a one-timer that beat Ondrej Pavelec to the short side for his fourth goal of the season.

''It was a fun game to be a part of, I'm sure for both teams,'' said Koivu, who reacted quickly to a pass from winger Charlie Coyle, who made the pass while fighting off a check from Keaton Ellerby.

''If that doesn't get you into the game, you shouldn't be here,'' Koivu said. ''It was amazing, and it was fun to play.''

In the end, more fun for the Wild, who extended their points streak to eight games (7-0-1) and pulled into second place, two points behind Chicago, in the Central Division. They also extended their home winning streak to six games and are 10-1-2 at home.

Winnipeg had its four-game winning streak snapped and fell behind in the top-heavy Western Conference, where five teams - including the Wild - have at least 30 points. The East has none.

''It was a really tough game to lose because I thought our guys were very engaged in the game, really wanted to have a good outcome,'' Jets coach Claude Noel said.

Wild goaltender Josh Harding made 21 saves for his 12th victory. He improved to 10-0-0 at home and lowered his goals-against average to 1.25, second in the NHL to Los Angeles' Ben Scrivens (1.24).

Harding heard the Jets fans who made the trip from Manitoba.

''They have some loyal fans,'' Harding said. ''It's so exciting playing in that game. The atmosphere is incredible. It almost feels like you're in a playoff game. I don't know if I've ever been taunted that much in a home game. ... If I let that get to me, I have some problems.''

Koivu opened the scoring in a first period dominated by Minnesota, which held the Jets to just two shots on goal. The Wild captain corralled a pass from Zach Parise in the slot and sent a quick wrist shot past Pavelec at 16:37.

Parise's assist gave him 13 points in his past 12 games.

The Jets rebounded with a strong second period, outshooting the Wild 14-8, but didn't score until Dustin Byfuglien, parked in the crease, deflected a slap shot from Bryan Little to tie the score at 1-1 just 54 seconds into the third period.

But for the second time in as many games, the Wild responded to a tying goal with the winner. They beat Florida 3-2 on Friday after blowing a 2-0 first-period lead.

''They're a hard-working fast team that gets the puck in deep and grinds out,'' Ellerby said. ''It's frustrating playing against that team.''

NOTES: Winnipeg's two shots in the first period were the fewest the Wild have allowed in a period this season. ... The Wild's eight-game points streak is their best since they were also 7-0-1 between Oct. 4-21, 2007. . Coyle has five points (two goals, three assists) in six games since returning from a 12-game absence because of a knee injury. . Harding has a 1.15 GAA in his 10 starts at home.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2016
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
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