Most fans had already made their way to the exits at Xcel Energy Center. Who could blame them with Wild dead in the water?
Jets center Mark Scheifele had just potted an empty-net goal to put the game away. Or so he thought. Or so everyone in the Twin Cities thought.
Wild coach Dean Evason decided to challenge that the play — why not right? — and the officials ruled that Jets winger Kyle Connor was offside. Less than 20 seconds later, Joel Eriksson Ek unbelievably tied the game with a frantic play in front to send the game into overtime.
In the extra session, Eriksson Ek fittingly played hero, scoring the game-winner to complete his hat trick and lift the Wild to an incredible 6-5 win over the Jets. What a way to welcome fans back into the Xcel Energy Center, eh?
From the countless chippy plays after the whistle, to the massive brawl between Marcus Foligno and Brenden Dillon, to back-and-forth battle on the scoreboard, neither the Wild nor the Jets gave an inch throughout the game. Not without making the other team work for it.
Like when Jets winger Kyle Connor made it 1-0 early in the first period, only to have Mats Zuccarello follow it up with a goal of his own 53 seconds late to tie it at 1-1. Or when Connor made it 2-1 later in the first period, only to have Eriksson Ek respond on the power play to level the score at 2-2.
The fast-paced action provided the fuel early in the game, before Foligno and Dillon lit the match late in the first period with their fight.
Immediately following a faceoff Foligno dropped his gloves, rolled up his sleeves, and skated furiously toward Dillon. As both players sized each other up, Foligno faked a jab to get Dillon on his heels, and waited for the opportune moment to strike.
Then, in an instant, Foligno left his skates, lunged toward Dillon, and delivered a Superman punch that set a sellout crowd of 18,156 fans ablaze. He followed it up with a handful of haymakers, including a vicious uppercut, before the officials mercifully stepped in.
If there was any question whether the Wild-Jets rivalry would live on after nearly two years without seeing each other, that heavyweight bout between Foligno and Dillon cleared things up.
Eventually, cooler heads started to prevail in the second period, with Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey netting a goal to push the score to 3-2 before Zuccarello scored again to knot it up at 3-3.
It looked like Ryan Hartman scored late in the second period to give the Wild the lead. Unfortunately for Hartman, the officials immediately waved it off, blowing the whistle before the puck crossed the goal line.
Things started to get away from the Wild in the third period, starting with Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois scoring from the slot to make it 4-3. A couple of minutes later, Jets winger Andrew Copp scored on breakaway to stretch the lead to 5-3.
That deficit simply set the stage for an incredible comeback.