ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Wild nearly gave away another game.
Rick Nash's high stick and a favourable video review helped them hang on. Owen Nolan came off injured reserve to get an assist and his first goal for Minnesota, and the Wild beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on Saturday night after Nash's tip-in with 11.5 seconds remaining was waived off.
"Well, we're the Wild! Come on! The Wild! You know we like to make it exciting," coach Jacques Lemaire said, rather sarcastically in reference to their overtime loss to Buffalo two days before after a two-goal lead vanished with four minutes left.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored his first goal and Niklas Backstrom made 25 saves to help the Wild (5-0-1) remain the only Western Conference team without a loss in regulation.
Rostislav Klesla scored for the Blue Jackets for the first time in 43 games - his last goal was in January - after Michael Peca won a faceoff with 11:34 left in the third period.
Nick Schultz was called for hooking with 3:35 remaining to give Columbus a late power play, but the Wild staved it off and improved to 19-for-19 on the penalty kill this season.
After Minnesota nearly scored an empty-netter in the final minute, the Blue Jackets brought the puck back the other way and Christian Backman fired a desperation shot from just inside the blue line. Nash was in perfect position about 15 feet from the goal, but he raised his stick to direct it past Backstrom and prompt the review.
The NHL had all 30 teams in action Saturday, so the video review room in Toronto was overworked. According to a blog post on the league's official website, off-ice officials deemed the evidence inconclusive. So the decision was sent back to Minnesota, and the referee who made the initial call was overruled by his three colleagues.
Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock tersely dismissed the situation.
"Our description of it and our view on the video is different than the referee's, so what does it matter?" he said. "It's not a goal. They won the hockey game."
The Wild, of course, were convinced.
"When I saw the replay on top, it was obvious," Lemaire said. "Nash is really tall, and he had his stick above the shoulders."
Nash, who's listed at six-foot-four, demurred.
"I didn't get to see any of the replays. ... That happens so fast. I couldn't even tell," he said.
Next time, the Blue Jackets need to start their comeback sooner.
"We just turned the puck over a little too much. The Wild wait for that," centre Derick Brassard said.
Columbus lost goalie Pascal Leclaire to a sprained ankle in the second period. He was replaced by Fredrik Norrena.
Nolan missed the previous three games because of a leg injury. He took the place on the active roster of star Marian Gaborik, who has been out since Oct. 14 due to a lower-body injury.
The Wild led 1-0 at the second intermission, but that lead could have been larger. They outshot the Blue Jackets 10-3 through the first 17 minutes. Nolan later fumbled a pass at one point between the circles and was denied by a smooth kick save, but Bouchard came through on that same sequence with 26 seconds remaining in the opening frame after Marek Zidlicky tracked it down and fed Bouchard.
Mikko Koivu notched his ninth assist midway through the third period with a nifty backhand pass near the post to set up Nolan in the slot against Norrena and make it 2-0. It looked like the Wild were in solid shape, but that two-goal lead can often be dangerous.
"I still have that last game in my mind," Lemaire said, adding: "I saw too many mistakes at the end there. We have to cut that down."
Through six games, Backstrom has given up 12 goals. His best save was probably in the second period, when he stuck his left pad out to block a shot by Brassard.
Hitchcock was concerned about the chemistry of his top line, so he dropped R.J. Umberger to a wing on the third line and moved Manny Malhotra to the first group with Nash and Kristian Huselius.
Nash had a breakaway chance in the third period when Minnesota's Brent Burns committed a turnover on a power play, but Backstrom turned away that attempt.
"Timing is everything. What are you going to do?" Hitchcock said. "He's getting the chances. It's unfortunate for him. Maybe in a couple of weeks those will all go in."
Notes: The Blue Jackets have become a dangerous team to play. After one of their errant sticks accidentally hit Rangers coach Tom Renney in a 3-1 loss to New York the night before, a loose puck ricocheted over the Wild bench and appeared to strike team trainer Don Fuller. He left with a towel pressed against his head.