Wild defeats Ducks in season opener on Foligno’s goal in final seconds

·5 min read

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Marcus Foligno sat in the penalty box longer than he played on the ice, but he still changed the game.

After a lengthy absence from a first-period confrontation, Foligno's return flipped the momentum to the Wild's side and he put the finishing touches on a comeback by scoring with 7.2 seconds to go to seal a 2-1 win over the Ducks on Friday night at Honda Center and open the season in memorable fashion.

Next up is another game Saturday at Los Angeles.

"Well rested," Foligno said. "I'm going to be good tomorrow night, too, hopefully."

🚨MARCUS FOLIGNO GAME WINNER W SEVEN SECONDS LEFT🚨 pic.twitter.com/gnSlA5DhVy

— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 16, 2021

With time running out, Foligno latched onto a rebound in front with his back to the net, turned and hurled the puck behind Anaheim goalie Anthony Stolarz before falling to the ice where he sprawled out like a snow angel to celebrate.

The goal – officially at 19:52 – is the latest go-ahead goal in Wild history, eclipsing the previous record of 19:44 set by Jim Dowd on Jan.21, 2004 vs. Chicago. Foligno also became just the third player in NHL history to score a go-ahead goal in the final 10 seconds of regulation in his team's season opener.

"I knew time's ticking down, so I didn't really want to move from the net," Foligno said. "I thought I might have had more body position if I kind of did a spin-o-rama, and I just got lucky."

Overall, Foligno played 13 minutes, 11 seconds – almost four minutes less than he was holed up in the penalty box where he served 17 minutes.

"You can't say enough about what he brings to this lineup and this group," goalie Cam Talbot said. "When he's sitting in the box for 17 minutes, you know it's killing him and he wants to be out there. Then he goes and makes an impact like that like he always does. Obviously, sitting in the box for 17 minutes he's probably fresh at the end there. So, it worked out for us."

Foligno was sent off late in the first period after a run-in with Anaheim's Max Jones.

After Foligno bumped into Jones to knock the Wild's net ajar and was then cross-checked by Jones, the two fought and even went back at each other after being separated.

That resulted in not only five-minute majors for both but also a 10-minute misconduct apiece. Foligno was also tagged with an interference minor for the incident with the net, giving the Ducks a power play, but the cross-check by Jones went uncalled.

"When you throw a punch over a linesman, that's going to happen," Foligno said of the misconduct. "So, my fault there."

BOXSCORE: Wild 2, Anaheim 1

On the ensuing Anaheim power play, the Ducks converted just 17 seconds into the second period on a wrap-around by Jakob Silfverberg.

That lead held until the Wild finally answered back with its own power play goal – and with Foligno back on the ice.

On his first shift since his stint in the penalty box, the Wild drew a power play on a Silfverberg hook and this time the team didn't waste the opportunity after blanking on its first two tries including one in the first minute of the game.

Kevin Fiala, who led the Wild in power play production last season, pounced on a deflected Mats Zuccarello pass at the back post with 2:25 to go in the second.

Kirill Kaprizov also registered his first point of the season on the play with the secondary assist after feeding the puck to Zuccarello, who appeared to be trying to pass to Foligno in front of the net.

Instead, the puck caromed off Anaheim (and former Wild) defenseman Greg Pateryn and right to Fiala's stick.

"Our PP wasn't that good I feel like today," Fiala said. "Take the positive. We scored, so that's the positive."

The Wild went 1-for-5 with the man advantage and the Ducks were 1-for-4.

One of those penalty kills by the Wild came in the third period and featured Talbot's sharpest save of the game. He stretched his left pad out to get a piece of a Ryan Getzlaf shot from right in front of the crease, preserving the 1-1 tie.

"He's a big boy in front, and no one can really move him," Talbot said of Getzlaf. "He's been doing that for years. Just tried to throw anything I could in front of it and try to take away the far side of the net. I know he has a long reach. There's not really much going through your head there except put something in front of it and hope it hits it."

Talbot notched 28 saves at the outset of his second season as the Wild's starter. Stolarz, who was starting in place of injured No.1 John Gibson, had 41 stops on 43 shots – Foligno's clutch finish being the last one.

"He's a leader on our team," Wild coach Dean Evason said. "He goes to the net. He does all the right things and says all the right things. That's why we named him an assistant captain. He does that every night, and he brings that physicality. He also has a skill set that can score goals and make plays.

"Very valuable player on our hockey club."

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