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What's good, Wild fans? As you may notice from the title on this page, this isn't your usual everyday live, in-game commentary. It's Carly Peters, Digital Media Coordinator for the Wild, and I'll be filling in for Glen Andresen for tonight's contest between the Wild and Avalanche in downtown Denver. Even though I'm sure Glen is out enjoying his Saturday night somewhat, I say it's OK to feel badly for him because we all know nothing's as fun as live in-game commentary when the Wild puts a beat down on the Avs.
In his View from the Lighthouse entry today, Glen said you all should be prepared to print off and frame my first edition of live, in-game commentary. I'm not going to go that far, but I'll certainly try to bring my A-game. And hey, if I am that awesome, I'll even autograph it for you, too.
Enough of the wild.com roster change, let's get to the lineup of the guys on the ice. Niklas Backstrom
will get the start in net and that means the Avs have plenty to worry about, as he's been stellar at Pepsi Center throughout his career. The only other change to the Wild lineup is defenseman Justin Falk
taking the spot of Clayton Stoner
, who suffered an upper-body injury during yesterday's game and did not travel to Colorado.
As Glen wrote in the aforementioned Lighthouse entry
, previously injured Chuck Kobasew flew with the team to Denver but will remain out of the lineup, as he has since traveled to Vancouver for personal reasons. We know Chuck is in our thoughts as well as those of his teammates.
I don't know about you, but I'm pumped for tonight's contest. The Wild has faced every other division rival this season, but is finally getting a shot at the Avalanche this year. Colorado used to be a place where the Wild struggled, but that hasn't been the case recently. Minnesota is 6-0-2 in it's last eight contests at Pepsi Center, including three straight. Plus, the Wild looked like an offensive juggernaut during yesterday's win and why not make it two nights in a row?
Thanks to the FOX Sports North feed in my Bloomington family room, I can see the Wild players are sporting their crisp, white jerseys for the first time in eight days. Colorado is sporting maroon jerseys with blue sleeves and a snow-wrapped A on the chest.
After starting my night off with a little Hockey Night in Canada action on the NHL Network as an appetizer, I'm ready for the main course: a Northwest Division battle between the Wild and Avalanche. Let's do this! Period 1
18:59 - Wild 0, Avalanche 1 - Well, that's not exactly what I was hoping to write about for my first entry. Paul Stastny takes the puck along the goal line and scores from a wicked angle. To the left of Backstrom, Stastny collects the puck along the goal line, then fires the puck, which seems to go off of Marek Zidlicky and past Backstrom on the way to the back of the Wild net.
15:25 - Daniel Winnik gets blasted in the knee by his own teammate's slapshot and while struggling to get off of the ice, the Wild take advantage of having an extra man. Brunette and Koivu both pound away for multiple chances, but none get past Avs goalie Peter Budaj.
12:25 - It's early, but the O'Sullivan-Koivu-Brunette line is jumping. All three forwards are zipping into the Avalanche zone and creating multiple scoring chances for the Wild.
12:04 - FOX Sports North uses the TV timeout to show footage from yesterday's Guinness World Record-breaking gathering of moustaches. I know everyone on the Wild was blown away by the support of Movember fans showed during the game, including the 1,133 men on the ice after the contest. I had no idea ClutterStache
could inspire so many people.
9:03 - Ryan O'Reilly breaks into the Wild zone and blasts a shot from the top of the left circle, but Backstrom is sure to swallow up the shot and not allow a reboud. Shots are even at 6-6.
6:00 - The fourth line is really providing a spark for the Wild. Brad Staubitz throws his body around right before Robbie Earl streaks up the ice to start a scoring chance. That should put some energy into the Wild bench.
5:41 - Wild 1, Avalanche 1 - Look at that! Guess the boys on the pine really were energized by the fourth line's efforts. Not long after the Wild swaps lines, Antti Miettinen and Cal Clutterbuck hustle into the Colorado zone. Clutterbuck and his stache send a somewhat-fanned shot to the net from the left circle, while Miettinen finds his position alone in front of Budaj. Miettinen is able to get his stick on the fluttering puck and deflects it past Budaj's glove.
3:04 - Staubitz gets the first penalty of the game after taking a little too hard of a slash on O'Reilly's leg. He'll be in the box for two and the Wild's penalty kill will be asked to make a stop.
2:37 - There you go, Backs. As John-Michael Liles gets past the Wild defender, he walks in and fires a shot on Backstrom, who seems calm, cool and collected as he makes the quick pad save.
0:43 - Maybe Marek Zidlicky is trying to make a pitch to move to forward. As Andrew Brunette takes his usual camping spot behind the net, Zidlicky pinches in and parks himself in front of Budaj. Zidlicky takes the pass but Budaj makes the pad save and the Colorado defenders try to quickly clear it out. Z isn't having that, and quickly steals the puck back at the Avs blueline, before sending a no-look, trailing pass to Brunette. He's a great defenseman, but after his past two games, Zidlicky looks more like a high-scoring forward.
0:25.4 - Kevin Porter and Brent Burns battle along the boards, but Porter gets his stick up high and into the beautiful mo of Burns. There's no blood, so Porter will go to the box for two minutes and the Wild will have its first power play of the night.
0:20.3 - Wild 2, Avalanche 1 - Goodness! Don't these guys know I'm busy trying to type? I guess not and I guess I won't care. Faster than I can blink, the Wild scores on the power play. Patrick O'Sullivan wins the draw for Minnesota and Miettinen sends the pass to Matt Cullen at the blue line. Cullen absolutely rips a slapshot from the point and over the glove of Budaj.
0:00 - Thanks to the quick work on the power play, the first period comes to a close with a Wild lead. I like it! Or as Enrique Iglesias would say: I, I, I like it!Period 2
17:15 - Wild 2, Avalanche 2 - Paul Stastny is undoubtedly the best player on the ice for Colorado tonight. Not long after Backstrom is forced to make a great save on a Stastny shot, Stastny streaks back into the Wild zone and his linemates follow. During a 2-on-1 rush for the Avs, Greg Mauldin slides the puck five-hole and scores for the Avs.
17:01 - I'm going to go ahead and say this is the most references to Paul Stastny in a single live, in-game commentary and we're not even halfway done. Stastny again tries to break into the Wild zone and Zidlicky uses his stick to try to hold him up. It's a little too much for the refs and Z will go to the box for two minutes.
15:01 - The Avs didn't score on the power play and Marek Zidlicky is out of the box, but it wasn't for lack of chances. Colorado is firing on all cylinders and Backstrom had to be brilliant to get out of the PK alive. They haven't let up since their tying goal.
14:07 - This isn't going to help stop Colorado's sudden mojo. As the Avs create yet another break into the Wild zone, Nick Schultz takes an interference penalty and the Avs will go back on the power play.12:42 - Wild 2, Avalanche 3 - This doesn't look to be the night you want to give Colorado a sniff at offense. Because when they find it, it's coming quickly. On the power play, Stastny (yes, him again) camps out behind Backstrom and finds Milan Hejduk streaking down the center of the ice. Hejduk burries it in the back of the Wild net.
12:10 - Wild 2, Avalanche 4 - OK, I was joking when I said I didn't like being so busy with Wild goals that I didn't have time to type. Now, I'm actually annoyed. Cory McLeod takes a shot from the left circle and it takes a weird bounce over the end boards. While Backstrom is trying to locate the puck, he doesn't see Mauldin streaking into the area in front of the Wild net. And wouldn't you know it, that weird bounce comes out to Mauldin who deposits the puck into a half-open net for his second of the period.
10:31 - Wild 2, Avalanche 5 - UNCLE! OK, hockey gods. You might think this is a funny little joke to play on me during my first shot at live, in-game commentary, but I know the State of Hockey legion doesn't appreciate it. John Madden tries to clear the Wild zone from behind the blue line, but the puck comes to Kevin Shattenkirk at the right circle. Shattenkirk sends a wrister through traffic in front of the net and over Backstrom's glove.
6:20 - The Wild are finally getting a sniff at some offensive chances. Unfortunately, it's pretty much been all Avs this second stanza, but the Wild have at least started to get into the Colorado zone and give Backstrom some much-needed breathing time.5:38 - Wild 3, Avalanche 5 - Hey-O! That's the kind of goal I'm talking about! Minnesota stops the bleeding after four straight Colorado goals. Martin Havlat makes a drop pass to Kyle Brodziak, who takes a shot from the top of the right circle that seem to fool Budaj and float over him.
3:46 - Greg Zanon catches an edge as he tries to corral the puck behind the Wild net. His pass is picked off by David Jones along the side boards and he sends it to Matt Duchene in front of the net. Backstrom makes a great point-blank save with the left pad.
2:56 - Seconds after Eric Nystrom and Ryan O'Byrne jab at center ice, Kyle Brodziak
and Chris Stewart decide to drop the gloves off the face off. Both players feel each other out for a while before Stewart finally starts landing blows, most of them connecting on Brodziak's shoulder pad, before he gets his helmet off. It's not exactly a prize fight, but it gets the crowd and both teams energized.
2:14 - So close! I figured a gritty, but not typical enforcer like Kyle Brodziak
deciding to go would get the Wild energized and I think I was correct. Matt Cullen
sets up behind the Colorado goal line and Martin Havlat finds his way to the front of the net. He's taken down, but not before getting a shot off and Budaj is forced to make a brilliant save with the right pad.
0:00 - The period comes to a close with the Wild finally starting to look like the team from the first period. Hopefully, they're back to normal for the third. Shots on goal during that period: Minnesota 7, Colorado 20. I'm sure Minnesota would love to have a re-do on that middle stanza.Period 3
19:20 - Liles drives to the net with a puck and fires on Backstrom. When Cam Barker tries to clear Liles out of the crease and/or stop him from hitting Backs, Liles is driven directly into Backstrom. It's a scary moment after a very hard collision. Both Liles and Backstrom are slow getting up but both look to be alright.
18:46 - David Jones drives to the net, but the mass of bodies around Backstrom cause the net to come off its bearings. Some Avalanche players act like they scored, but the officials let them know the whistle was blown first because of the net.
16:23 - Commentators Mike Greenlay and Dan Terhaarr are saying Stewart is out of the game with a hand injury. I guess Brodziak's shoulder pads and helmet are the ultimate victor of the game's lone fight.14:57 - Wild 3, Avalanche 6 - Now that's one we could've used. Mauldin throws a centering feed from the left circle and Jones, despite being covered by Zidlicky, is able to get a stick on it in front of Backstrom and deflect the puck into the Wild net.13:11 - Wild 3, Avalanche 7 - When it rains, it pours. The Avs, who have been flying into the Wild zone all night, streak up the right side of the rink. Mauldin fires a shot on Backstrom who makes a pad save, but Duchene isn't covered as he comes to the front of the net and banks the rebound into an open net. Backstrom will be replaced by Jose Theodore.
11:33 - I think I can say that's the weakest boarding call I've ever seen called. Staubitz pushes O'Byrne into the board - so lightly it would barely be called a check - and is sent to the box for two minutes. That one, I'll disagree with.
11:09 - Cullen blocks a Jones slapshot on the Wild PK and struggles to get off the ice. The good news is he doesn't go back to the locker room, but tries to walk it off in the runway.
6:20 - Cullen is back on the ice and flying around like he is superhuman. He might be.6:02 - Wild 4, Avalanche 7 - Has any Wild player been as hot as Martin Havlat over the last month? Marty takes his time with the puck at the left circle, dangles and drags it past two Avalanche players with unreal ease and sends the puck to Kyle Brodziak who is alone on the right side of the net. Brodziak flips the puck over the glove of Budaj as he is trying to recover in net.
3:38 - You've got to like the Wild's effort here. Staubitz, Burns, Earl and Nystrom all battle in front of the Avalanche net as the puck is loose. It's a mob, but the whistle isn't blown because no one has control of the puck in front of Budaj. While the Wild can't score, the good news is Liles will go to the box for closing his hand on the puck.
3:16- It's that sort of a night. As the Wild is turning to move out of its zone on the power play, Mikko Koivu
's stick inadvertantly trips David Jones at the blue line. Koivu lets his stick drag and Jones steps on it to put an abrubt end to the Wild power play.
1:51 - Minnesota will get another man advantage as O'Byrne chops Cullen's stick out of his hands in front of Budaj.
1:01 - The Wild is showing a lot of passing ability on the power play, but when Marek Zidlicky finally takes the shot, it clanks off the iron.
0:00 - That will do it. Not the debut I was hoping for and certainly not the night Minnesota was looking for. The Wild will try to regroup for Monday's game at Calgary.