The Wild made Alex Goligoski's 1,000 NHL games accomplishment a nightlong celebration.
During a pregame ceremony on Saturday, Goligoski, who was accompanied on the ice by his wife Amanda and children Roman and Mila, was presented with the traditional silver stick to honor the milestone as well as a crystal, ATV and Rolex watch.
Then after puck drop, messages of congratulations from former teammates splashed across the video board – from the Penguins' Sidney Crosby, who Goligoski won a Stanley Cup with in 2009, to fellow Gopher Phil Kessel.
But before the evening wrapped, Goligoski commemorated the festivities in his own way.
In just his sixth appearance of the season after being scratched 12 of 13 games since he logged No. 1,000 on Oct. 20, Goligoski finalized a gutsy 2-1 rally for the Wild against the Hurricanes in front of 18,278 at Xcel Energy Center by scoring his first goal of the season in overtime.
"Just happy to help the team win a game like that," said a still emotional Goligoski after he got choked up during a postgame TV interview. "Just an awesome night."
While crashing the net, Goligoski accepted a Sam Steel pass and wired the puck by Carolina goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov at 1 minute, 12 seconds for his third career overtime goal and first with the Wild in front of his family, including his parents Paula and Dan, brother, and friends.
"Just to end up like that, it was just a crazy, emotional night," Goligoski said.
Before that and with just 2:37 left in the third period, Steel erased a pesky one-goal deficit for the Wild by flinging in a Jared Spurgeon feed to capitalize on a promotion to the top line with his first multi-point game of the season.
"Just get him the puck," Steel said about the game-winning play. "You're not thinking about much else at the time. As soon as [Goligoski] scored, it's like a movie script for him. So, we were really happy."
The comeback snapped a three-game slide for the Wild at home and overall and bumped up their home record to 3-5-1 while Filip Gustavsson, who continues to fill in for the injured Marc-Andre Fleury, finished with 20 saves and improved to 2-4-1. Kochetkov had 19 saves.
"We're scratching and clawing here right now," Goligoski said. "Nothing's coming easy. So, we've been playing that way for a while, and it's just a matter of Spurge makes a great play to Steeler. You get that one goal, and I'm glad we did because you could feel it coming a little bit.
"If we don't get rewarded there, we're not feeling very good in here right now. So, it was a big win against a really good team."
This was the fourth time in seven games the Wild limited the opposition to a goal or less and although they've scored more than two goals only twice in the last eight games, this low-scoring style is how the Wild wants to play.
"That's who we are," coach Dean Evason said. "That team looked like us."
During a 2-on-1 rush, the Hurricanes' Sebastian Aho buried a pass from linemate Martin Necas into the back of the net with a one-timer at 13:47 of the first period.
With neither power play converting (the Wild went 0-for-1 and Carolina 0-for-2) and shots from each side hovering below 20, it looked like that lone goal might decide the outcome.
But the Wild, who went with only 11 forwards and seven defensemen, never disengaged.
"I think they saw, they knew, they felt that we were playing proper," Evason said. "We weren't cheating the game. The first period they got ahead of us, but we were matching their speed, we were matching their go, their giddy-up, and we were getting opportunities."
Goligoski certainly took advantage of his.
Although the 37-year-old veteran was a regular for much of his debut with the Wild last season after signing as a free agent, the Grand Rapids native started playing less around the time he re-upped for two more seasons in March.
He skated in the first four games, reaching No. 1000 in the team's 4-3 victory against the Canucks, but was bounced out of the top-six the very next outing when Jon Merrill returned from offseason surgery.
"It's been terrible to be honest," Goligoski said of being a healthy scratch. "I'm not used to that. I'm not used to coming to the rink and not playing. That's why I'm a little emotional right now.
"… But you've got to make the most of your opportunities, so that's what I'm trying to do."
Goligoski might not have to wait long to get another chance to suit up.
Asked if Goligoski had done enough to stick in the lineup, Evason said, "I would think so. I think we'd be the stupidest coaches in the world if we didn't."