Wild Ties Flyers In Home Debut

Wild center Darby Hendrickson sends the puck past Flyers goalie Brian Boucher. AP

The Minnesota Wild's home debut would have been memorable regardless of the game's outcome.

But Manny Fernandez made sure the game was one to remember for the right reasons for Minnesota fans.

Fernandez made 36 saves, including seven in overtime, on Wednesday night as the expansion Wild tied the Philadelphia Flyers 3-3 in the first NHL game involving a Minnesota team since the North Stars played their last game on April 13, 1993.

"A couple of unlucky bounces here and there and we could have won," Fernandez said. "We got a point and we've got to be pretty happy with that."

Coach Jacques Lemaire was satisfied with the way Minnesota's offense showed some signs of life after scoring just one goal in each of the season's first two games.

"I think it's a good tie," Lemaire said. "Any point we get will be a good point for us."

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Game summary

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  • The Wild took a 3-2 lead on Wes Walz's short-handed goal at 9:12 of the third period, but Eric Desjardins tied it at 10:37.

    Fernandez was kept busy, laying out to smother pucks and stop shots as Philadelphia exploited Minnesota's weak and inexperienced defense.

    "This is the type of game the fans will get," Lemaire said. "They had some chances. We're happy with that."

    The Wild peppered Flyers goalie Brian Boucher in the opening minutes of the game, but had just three shots in the second period.

    "No disrespect to Minnesota, but we should have won this hockey game," Boucher said. "A 3-3 tie is not acceptable."

    Marian Gaborik, the Wild's first-round draft pick this year, had a power-play goal to kickstart Minnesota's offense with 55 seconds left in the second.

    The 18-year-old Gaborik shot the puck into Boucher's am and the puck trickled out of his hand, which was resting in the goal.

    "I can't be falling back in the net like that," Boucher said.

    It was Minnesota's first power-play goal of the season. The Wild are 1-for-18 on power plays this season, including 1-for-4 on Wednesday night.

    Gaborik had a chance to win the game late in the third with just over 20 seconds left on a Wild power play, but Boucher smothered the puck.

    Peter White's second goal of the game, 5:43 into the third, tied the game 2-2.

    White also scored the game's first goal at 13:41 of the first period. Simon Gagne passed it to Rick Tocchet along the boards and White tipped it into Fernandez, got the rebound and slid it under Fernandez's leg.

    Darby Hendrickson, who played in college at Minnesota and grew up in suburban Richfield, got a standing ovation when he scored the Wild's first goal at 17:19. He redirected Maxim Sushinsky's cross-ice pass past Boucher, who made 19 saves.

    "It's a thrill for myself, but to tell the truth, I was out there for (Philadelphia's) first goal and I just wanted to get one back for out team," Hendrickson said.

    A sellout crowd of 18,827 was at Xcel Energy Center. Two preseason games at the brand new arena sold out last month.

    Notes

  • NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said before the game that "Minnesota and hockey is a no-brainer" and "I'm sorry we left. Bringing pro hockey back here was by far the right thing to do."
  • Fernandez likely solidified his hold on the starting job, which he had been expected to share with Jamie McLennan. The two alternated starts in the Wild's first two games and coach Jacques Lemaire declined to announce a regular starter.
  • Flyers left wing John LeClair didn't make Philadelphia's three-game road trip because of back pain.


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