Good evening, State of Hockey Legion! Your usual host, Glen Andresen, is enjoying some family time in Florida, so I'll be filling in for this week's in-game commentaries. Glen might have some warmer temperatures and lots of sunshine, but I get to spend the night surrounded by Wild fans at the Wild Interactive Viewing Party in the Mall of America's rotunda. Take that, Glenny!
That's right folks, I've got a great view of the big screen, while I watch fans - decked out in Wild gear 'cause they're awesome - get autographs from Wes Walz, play some video games and check out the gadgets from our friends at Best Buy and SONY. It should be a great night all around, and I'm betting it ends with a good 'ol Wild win in St. Louis.
One of the reasons for my optimistic outlook is the fact that Mr. No-Way-You're-Putting-The-Puck Past-Me-Jose Theodore will start the game for Minnesota. Those poor, misguided St. Louis fans might as well call him B.B. King tonight because he'll certainly have them singing the blues (see what I did there?) St. Louis will also have to deal with Casey Wellman, who was recalled from Houston today and will be in the lineup tonight.
The reason for Wellman's recall is the fact that Chuck Kobasew will sit this one out with a leg injury. Feel better Chuck, and be sure to steal some of PR Guru Ryan Stanzel's popcorn in the press box - it will make you feel better. An injured shoutout also goes out to Cam Barker (upper body), Josh Harding
(knee), Guillaume Latendresse
(abdominal), James Sheppard (knee) and Marco Scandella
(finger), who are all back in Minnesota and undoubtedly following along on wild.com. Hope you guys feel better, too!
We are at the biggest and best mall in America, so you better believe we'll be talking fashion tonight. From the FS North feed on the large rotunda big screen, I can see the Wild in their crisp road whites. St. Louis is going with their blue sweaters with the musical note on the chest. The Wild totally
wins the fashion faceoff on this one, so chalk that up as another reason for a Minnesota W tonight.
Alright, that's enough of the particulars. Let's get on with it and snap the stupid streak!Period 1
20:00 - Ryan Stanzel informed me that Casey Wellman has just arrived at Scottrade Center. Let's hope he got some stretches in on the cab ride from the airport.18:17 - Wild 1, Blues 0 - That's the way I like to start off commentary! The crowd here at the Mall of America has a reason to cheer early as the Wild get the first goal of the game. Eric Nystrom grabs a Martin Havlat pass at the St. Louis blue line and gives a quick release with a wrister from the circle that beats Jaroslav Halak. Have you seen our record when we score first!?! Just saying'...
14:13 - It's been a nice pace so far for both teams with some great chances for the Wild, most recently Pierre-Marc Bouchard
's give-and-go with Nick Schultz that results in a chance. Minnesota has the early lead in the shots-on-goal category, 5-4.
10:16 - This is HUGE. The Blues get the first chance at the power play tonight after Mikko Koivu
takes a slashing penalty, and then the Wild goes down two men when penalty killer extraordinaire John Madden goes to the box for tripping. The other PK'ers do a great job and Jose Theodore robs the Blues to maintain the Wild lead.
10:13 - Casey Wellman was just shown on the Wild bench. Considering he arrived at the arena when the puck dropped to start the game, that might be a world record for the quickest change into hockey gear. Call the Guinness folks and stretch it out during the whistles, Casey.8:58 - Wild 1, Blues 1 - That's too bad. The Wild kills the 5-on-3, but it can't get out of this Blues PP unscathed. After Mikko Koivu takes a hooking penalty, the Blues even the game on a goal from Chris Stewart. The play is made with a great fake by Patrik Berglund that fools Brent Burns, and then Berglund sends a pretty pass to Stewart, who's wide open in front of Theodore.
6:55 - The Wild will get the chance on the PP when Berglund holds Andrew Brunette as he tries to get to the puck, and he'll think about his interference for two minutes.
4:55 - Minnesota doesn't get a goal, but it does get some chances, including a great try by Brunette from - where else? - in front of the Blues net. Halak is up to the challenge this time, but let's hope the time in the offensive zone gets the mo jo going for the Wild.
3:19 - Brent Burns lays a hit on Nikita Nikitin up against the wall and chaos ensues. The Blues take exception and soon enough, everybody is pairing off. Burns will go to the box for two minutes, while Stewart will get two minutes for roughing Burns after the whistle. Thanks for evening things up, Chris. Much appreciated.
1:10 - It's 4-on-4, but you'd think it was a Wild power play. The top line of Koivu and Co. have a nice chance, and then Matt Cullen
and Clutterbuck nearly connect. No Wild goals result, but I love me some scoring chances. Don't stop 'til you get enough, boys.
0:00 - The whistle blows to sound the end of the period. The players will load up on the electrolytes and catch their breath...well, everyone but Wellman, who I'm guessing with get his bike on. It's Tour de France time, Casey.Period 2
16:48 - There's a reason I picked Koivu for today's wild.com Fantasy Spotlight, and that reason would be he's been great against the Blues lately. The Wild has many opportunities on the power play, most started by Mikko. Again, no Wild goal results but Mikko's jump has me penciling him in for a goal. In fact, I think he'll go 1-1=2 on the night. That's a call.
13:59 - The officials really don't like the hits tonight. Brad Staubitz makes a hit on Alex Pietrangelo but the zebras don't like it, saying he left his feet and he'll go to the box for charging. I could go for a Cullen shorty right about now. How about you?
11:20 - It's not a shorty, but it's not a Blues PPG and I think that's a fair trade. Minnesota will try to get back to it's offensive zone, currently trailing in shots, 13-10.
10:10 - Ouch, that always makes me nervous. Clutterbuck shows great hustle to get in on the forecheck, but he falls into the boards awkwardly after a hit from Carlo Colaiacovo. I held my breath for a second, but Cal is apparently fine as he pops right back up. His body's certainly been trained for collisions with his NHL-leading number of hits.
6:28 -Wellman-Brodziak-Bouchard dominates a good 30 seconds in the St. Louis zone, playing pass-and-catch before having a few shots blocked. The Wild needs to start throwing some pucks on net, but it's good to see Wellman's finally got the muscles loose.
4:47 - Right after a Burns blast from the point just misses the Blues net, St. Louis roars up the ice and Roman Polak fires a quick shot on Theodore. The puck catches Theo awkwardly up high, but he is able to make the save for a whistle.
2:33 - That was it! Koivu uses his stick to steal a puck in front of the Blues net and sends a pass to a streaking Bouchard, who quickly fires a shot on Halak. Halak is fully dialed in and makes the save without much preparation.
2:07 - That was it, take two! Koivu blocks a Blues attempt at the Wild blue line and leads a charge up ice for a 3-on-1 chances for the good guys. He leaves a drop pass for Burns, whose blast from the point is turned aside. That's two awesome chances for the Wild in a period without a lot of shots for Minnesota, and in case you haven't been reading closely enough, Koivu definitely had his Wheaties and/or magic Finnish coffee today.
0:12.4 - Thank you Hockey Gods! Theodore thought it was in and so did I. A shot goes of Theodore's pads, trickles off his skate and towards the net, but by the grace of all things hockey, hits the iron and bounces wide. Theo raised his head skyward, but no worries, Jose. We're still tied.
0:00 - Phew. The Wild starts out the second slowly, but is able to even out the shots somewhat (7-5 Blues) with a nice surge at the end of the period. Period 318:41 - Wild 1, Blues 2 - Not cool. Stewart throws a harmless backhand on the Wild net, and with Ryan Reaves causing trouble in front of the net, the puck slowly trickles through Theodore's pads. For the great saves Jose has made tonight and the strong defensive play of the Wild, that's a shame of a goal to currently be the game winner.
16:34 - I've said it once, I've said it a million times: Cal Clutterbuck
has one of the quickest releases in the NHL. Cal rips a wrester off the faceoff and Halak is able to make the save, but the Wild is swarming, which is the type of reaction you like to see on a goal-against.16:13 - Wild 2, Blues 2 - That's an answer! It's cheers again at the Mall of America as Pierre-Marc Bouchard evens this thing up. PMB carries the puck from the blueline, around to the boards and in the circle, where he sends a very tight shot over the shoulder of Halak and into the back of the St. Louis net.
11:06 - It's now the Blues turn to swarm after a goal-against. They've been throwing some tough shots through traffic, but Theodore is up to the challenge. Let's get things back in the other end, guys.
10:35 - Now, I have to like David Backes since he's a Minnesotan and part of the USA Hockey crew, but that doesn't mean I have to like to see him score against the Wild. Thankfully, his shot finds the iron the "clank" ensures I can keep the smile on my face.
8:22 - This period is FLYING. Theodore holds onto the puck after a routine save, signaling the first whistle in more than seven minutes. That's more than a third of the period!
6:26 - The Wild again gets sustained pressure on Halak led by - who else? - Koivu and Co. The puck is thrown in front of the net and just squeaks through the traffic and out of the danger zone. For real, they've been good tonight.
0:54.1 - Now, this, is what you'd call an opportunity. After the final minutes of the third period fly by, the Blues send the puck out of play and will get called for delay of game. The Wild will close out regulation on the power play.
0:00 - The Wild nearly get the game winner on a last-minute shot by Burns, but Halak makes the stop and the buzzer sounds. The Wild will start OT with a 4-on-3 advantage.Overtime
4:20 - A great chance for the Wild as Minnesota passes around the zone before Burns blast a shot from above the left circle, but Halak slides over just in time.
4:05 - Cheers all around! Pierre-Marc Bouchard
is tripped by Vladimir Sobotka and the Wild's man advantage, which was set to end in 12 seconds, will go on another two minutes. Richards wisely takes the timeout to rest his players on the ice. I like it!
2:05 - The Wild sends plenty of passes and takes a few shots, but Halak is up to the challenge. It was certainly a good man advantage for the Wild, who got five shots off in the combined power plays.
1:00 - Bouchard and Koivu show some offense brilliance to carry the puck into the St. Louis, but Koivu's shot is shut down on the near side as Halak buries the puck in his chest protector.
0:00 - This one's going the distance. Shootout time. All I can say is, Koivu's been so dominant tonight, he better go with the backhand.ShootoutWOOT! Bouchard comes in with a ton of speed, seemingly going to deke, but he pulls the puck forehand and sends a deceptively fast shot under the glove of Halak.
Stewart pulls a ton of turns as he goes in slowly, but Theodore lays the left pad and pushes the puck wide.Koivu doesn't go with the backhand, but I'm OK with it this time. He seems to fake his bread and butter move, rifles a shot identical to Bouchard and scores on Halak's right side.Theodore can win it but Andy McDonald dekes and scores five hole.
Antti Miettinen can win it but his backhand attempt pops up and wide of the net.
Third time's the charm! Matt D'Agostini starts wide but Theodore reads him the whole way and sends the puck wide.WILD WIN! WILD WIN! I've never been so happy to say that! I'm so happy the guys will finally get to bust some smiles on the plane ride home tonight. Let's make it a win streak Thursday!