Happy St. Patrick's Day, Wild fans! Your usual host, Glen Andresen, is off for the night so I'm filling in for this late-night thriller. (Did you all bombard him with emails telling him to let me do more in-game commentaries because I'm so entertaining? Yeah, that's what I figured. Don't take it personally, Glen!)
Now onto the business at hand, and that of course, is a Wild win. In case you didn't read today's game notes or wild.com preview (tssk, tssk), I'll let you know your Minnesota Wild happens to be 3-0-2 on Sir Patty's Day, with three straight wins on the day we celebrate green clovers and pots o' gold. Unfortunately for Sharks Fans, the trend will certainly continue tonight because leprechauns always pick Wild Forest Green over San Jose Teal.
Forget about the Luck of the Irish, the Sharks will have plenty to worry about with Niklas Backstrom
in net for the Wild. I heard that Backs had a huge bowl of Lucky Charms for breakfast this morning, so be prepped for him to throw a shutout in San Jose. Nik's a nice guy, so I'm sure he shared with the rest of his teammates, who will undoubtedly be powered with horseshoes, rainbows and shooting stars tonight. I'm expecting a 3-0 Wild win, and if they had two bowls of marshmallowy goodness, make it a 6-0 blowout.
I've been informed Warren Peters
(no relation but awesome name, buddy) is the Wild healthy scratch tonight. The Wild lineup tonight will also be without Marek Zidlicky (lower body), Guillaume Latendresse
(abdominal), Cam Barker (upper body), Josh Harding
(knee) and James Sheppard (knee). Hope you guys are feeling better and that a four-leaf clover is in your future!
Now, I know this West Coast start isn't exactly fun for those of us that have to get up early tomorrow, but to that I say there's a reason caffeine is a part of our lives. All you have to do is get through tomorrow and then it's the weekend, so it's time to tough it out for the team.
I'm currently watching the end of the game on FS North, as the CC Tigers are going to advance in the WCHA Final Five. I'm also doing some scoreboard watching and hate to inform you that most of the Western Conference teams the Wild needs to lose are currently winning. Ugh, figures. But it's time for the good guys to take hold of their own destiny. Alright, CC has clinched it so it's time to send the show out to San Jose.
Enough with the St. Patrick's Day shenanigans - let's do this!Period 1
17:40 - Wow, every line for the Wild has had a solid scoring chance thus far. If the boys keep this up, we'll be fine, Wild fans. Brent Burns and Marco Scandella
have jumped in the rush from the blueline and the forwards are crashing the net. They've clearly listened to their coach about taking shots.
16:16 - Backstrom makes a huge save as Douglas Murray blasts a shot from the left point, which he clears aside, despite a large amount of traffic in front of the Wild net.
13:51 - Jared Spurgeon
once again impresses as he goes one-on-one with Ben Eager. Spurge remains calm and forces Eager to take a shot from out wide after he speeds into the Wild zone. His play, especially when he goes up against a bigger guy, is nothing short of awesome.
13:09 - HUGE! Niklas Backstrom
has made so many highlight-reel saves this year, and he just added another to his portfolio. Logan Couture makes a great drop pass to Eager, who blasts a shot which Backstrom turns aside. The rebound bounces right to Couture, who is crashing the net, but Backstrom throws a pad in the air and stops the puck from going in the net. I've already informed our friends at the NHL to clip that for the video highlights tonight, so get ready to watch it over and over.
12:31 - Great chance here for the Wild as Cal Clutterbuck
hustles into the Sharks zone and sends a cross ice pass to Matt Cullen
. Cullen gets a quick shot off from the right circle but Antti Niemi uses a glove save to keep this thing tied up.
11:33 - How good are John Madden and Matt Cullen
on the penalty kill? After Greg Zanon goes off for tripping, Madden sends a wonderful breakout pass that Cullen hustles to catch. Cullen is slashed as he goes to take a shorthanded shot, so we'll be four-on-four before a shortened Wild power play.8:31 - Wild 0, Sharks 1 - Despite some chances, Minnesota can't score on the power play and the Wild will once again be looking for a comeback on this road trip. Jamal Mayers gets a break from center ice and Marco Scandella can't keep up with the charge. Mayers whips a backhand over the shoulder of Backstrom to get the Sharks on the scoreboard first.5:07 - Wild 1, Sharks 1 - Like I said, how good is John Madden on the penalty kill? After Clayton Stoner goes off for holding the stick, Madden carries the puck all the way from the Wild zone. Perhaps the Sharks give him too much respect, or maybe he's just that good, but the oldest player on the Wild goes through three Sharks players and wrists a shot over the stick of Niemi. That's a massive goal for a team that has played well in its past two games but hasn't gotten bounces.
4:11 - Patrick Marleau absolutely blasts a shot from the left point. Thankfully, the iron is on our side tonight as the shot does no more harm than making a massive "DING!" sound to scare us a bit.
1:05 - Oh, shut up. I just went to check the scores around the league and Nashville apparently came back to win in OT. Thanks for nothing, Boston! That means Nashville and Dallas have won, and Calgary and Phoenix are winning. Not what we were hoping for tonight, but at least the most important game of the night is all tied up in San Jose!
0:00 - The horn sounds as the Wild ends the first tied with the Sharks. You've got to believe it almost feels like a lead for the Wild which had been outscored, 11-0, in its last five-plus first periods. Grab some caffeine while the guys get some electrolytes and I'll see you back here for the second.Period 2
19:00 - Wild PR guru Ryan Stanzel has just informed me that Madden's 12 goals this season are his most since scoring 20 with New Jersey in 2007-08. The Wild is also 9-1-1 when he scores...just sayin'.
18:10 - Clutterbuck has a great chance to give the Wild its first lead of the road trip. Cal blasts a point-blank attempt on Niemi, but the Finnish goalie is up to the task and makes the stop.
16:20 - They've had some chances tonight, but the Bouchard-Brodziak-Havlat line seems to be awakening with a couple of great chances here early in the second. That is super news for Wild fans.
14:55 - This line isn't too shabby either. Brunette-Koivu-Miettinen have their own strong chance after Mikko powers through four Sharks players, but Niemi makes the stop. The Wild offense is feeling it right now. That is super, duper news for Wild fans.
13:20 - Backstrom makes a stellar save that might illustrate just how well he is playing tonight. A quick win on a faceoff in the Wild end leads to a very quick point-blank shot by Wisconsin native Joe Pavelski. Backs slides over quickly and calmly makes the stop.9:27 - Wild 1, Sharks 2 - That's really too bad. For how well Backstrom has been playing this period, the Wild gets a bad bounce and finds itself trailing. Couture throws a puck towards the net that bounces off of Madden's stick, hits the iron, over Backs' shoulder and into the Wild net. It's time for another comeback, guys.
6:32 - Wild 2, Sharks 2 - Clutch! These quick answers to San Jose goals are really making me feel good tonight. Martin Havlat carries the puck into the Sharks zone and lobs a bouncing-puck pass to Brodziak. Brodziak is able to gain control of the puck from the left circle and wrists a shot under the glove of Niemi and into the San Jose net.
3:05 - I thought that was it. The Bouchard-Brodziak-Havlat line again has its way as it dominates the Sharks offensive zone. Marty does a great job of getting the puck to the net with a very large crowd in front of Niemi. The puck bounces around but no Wild players can get a solid stick on it before it is eventually cleared wide.
1:15 - The Sharks take a timeout and I'll use this opportunity to inform you that both Calgary and Phoenix have held on to their leads and grabbed the wins. That means all four teams the Wild wanted to lose tonight won. It's not much, but at least L.A. is currently losing to St. Louis.
0:00 - San Jose makes it a scary final 30 seconds of the second period, but Backstrom stands tall against the Sharks blitz attack and we head into intermission tiedPeriod 3
18:19 - In case you haven't noticed yet, Mikko Koivu
has been taking some faceoffs tonight. That's very good news as he remained out of the circle in his return from a broken finger last game.
16:23 - The boys need him to and Backstrom continues to stand tall. After a turnover in the Wild zone, he makes a huge pad save on Pavelski. The Sharks are swarming like there is blood in the water right now and Backs is keeping the Wild in it.15:00 - Wild 2, Sharks 3- The Sharks finally take advantage of the man advantage and its only because of another bad bounce for the Wild. With Stoner in the box, Marleau fires a shot from the left circle which Backstrom cleanly stops with his left pad. However, the Hockey Gods are cruel on this one and have the rebound bounce off of Brent Burns and into the Wild net. Time for another quick response, guys!
12:16 - Cal Clutterbuck
reminds us yet again just how quick his shot is. Cullen, Madden and Clutter dominate in the Sharks end to gain control of the puck and Cal quickly turns and fires. Niemi makes the stop, but it's the right idea, the Wild needs to be shooting the puck right now.
11:04 - How about a shorty? Brad Staubitz takes a tripping penalty on Jason Demers, which Andrew Brunette will serve since Staubitz also got called for a 10-minute misconduct.
9:04 - The Sharks have a bevy of chances, but thanks to some brilliant stops by Backstrom and some well-placed sticks by the Wild defense, Minnesota will go back to even strength and try to get some offense going.
5:20 - The clock just keeps on clicking down on this third period. Backstrom continues to make save after save (currently 43), but the Wild needs to get to the other end of the ice.
4:50 -SO CLOSE! Martin Havlat, who doesn't get physical often, plasters Ian White on the forecheck behind the net. He takes the puck to the front of Niemi and Clutterbuck and Cullen crash the net. There's a crowd and Cullen seems to fan on a shot as he's tied up by San Jose players.
3:10 - Torrey Mitchell and Havlat have been going back and forth for a while on faceoffs and they finally come to blows with some crosschecks before the puck is dropped. Both will head to the box as we have some four-on-four action.
1:04 - Backstrom is pulled for the extra attacker.
0:00 - This is just unfair. The Wild has about a billion excellent chances to tie it up late, but Niemi chooses the last minute for his Niklas Backstrom
impression and somehow keeps the puck out of the net. Minnesota has played awesome in its last two games on the road trip but is shut down on the roadie. The Wild will fly home tonight and hope it has better luck on its homestand.