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Eric Staal remains on roll, leads Wild past struggling Jets in OT

Eric Staal didn’t need to be reminded he hadn’t scored in overtime in eight years. The Minnesota Wild’s veteran centre was well aware.

Staal ended his drought in overtime, Minnesota finally cashed in on the power-play and the Wild earned an important win after back-to-back losses.

Staal poked home a rebound after a scramble in front of the Winnipeg goal on Saturday, sending the Minnesota past the Jets 3-2 in overtime. The goal was reviewed for several minutes with Zach Parise making contact with Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, but the review upheld the goal.

“The longer it takes, obviously, you’re getting a little bit worrisome, but I thought Zach did a phenomenal job in front there paying a price and then trying to get out of the way,” Staal said. “He got pushed from behind and he’s trying to clear himself out of the way. I was just able to jump on a loose puck. Big two points.”

Staal’s winner was his first overtime goal since Dec. 29, 2011 against Toronto when he was with the Carolina Hurricanes. He has 70 career game-winning goals.

Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said he didn’t get an explanation on the review, which showed defenceman Anthony Bitetto possibly pushing Parise.

“Yeah, it’s goalie interference all day long for me,” Maurice said. “There’s not a lot of grey area on that one. But I’m not giving them any money. Not one dime.”

WATCH | Staal wins it for Wild in OT:

Minnesota edge Winnipeg 3-2 with Eric Staal’s overtime winner. 1:07

Marcus Foligno and Luke Kunin also scored for Minnesota, which put up a season-high 44 shots on goal. Devan Dubynk stopped 19 shots for the Wild, who finally solved the Jets’ league-worst penalty-kill.

Minnesota was 0-for-5 on the power-play in regulation before scoring on Blake Wheeler’s slashing penalty in the extra session.

“I don’t think he had a good grip on that stick,” Wheeler said of Wild forward Mats Zuccarello, who drew the penalty. “I’ve got to make a play on that puck. I don’t want to comment, for sure, because I don’t know exactly how high on the stick I got it. But five-on-five, I think that gets let go. If he had a better grip on that stick, it’s a nothing play.”

Wheeler and Mark Scheifele scored for the Jets, who have lost three of their past four games. Connor Hellebuyck made 41 saves for Winnipeg.

The Jets led 2-1 after Wheeler scored a power-play goal 52 seconds into the third period, but Minnesota pressured and pushed the game to overtime with Kunin’s goal with 5:32 remaining.

‘We really took over the game’

The Wild outshot the Jets 16-4 in the third.

“We really took over the game, at least what it felt like, in the second and third,” said Parise, who added he didn’t think the overtime goal would stand. “We’ve got to convert on those power plays. That’s what they did. … we’ve struggled with their penalty kill, I feel like, this year.”

Special teams played a big role on Saturday.

Winnipeg scored both its goals with the man-advantage and has scored on the power-play in six of its past seven games and are 7-for-21 during that stretch.

Meanwhile, Minnesota’s power-play had struggled before overtime. The Wild are 5 for 42 on the power-play in their last 15 games. Minnesota has also allowed 16 power-play goals to opponents in the last 21 games.

“We knew exactly what they were doing every time,” Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said of the Jets’ power-play. “They didn’t fool us by making any plays that we didn’t know were going to happen. We have to be able to stop that or we have to change the way we kill. Because we can’t continue to win at 68 per cent. “