Happy Thursday, Wild fans! It's Carly Peters here, filling in for Glen Andresen as he helps out with the Frozen Four in St. Paul. Believe it or not, the man is indeed working in between celebratory cheers and fist pumps for the victory his
UMD Bulldogs scored against Notre Dame early this evening. Glen said he'd jump in the Downtown St. Paul Holiday Inn pool fully clothed if the Bulldogs win the National Championship, so I think it's an easy choice as to who you all should be rooting for come Saturday. Those nice Bulldogs gave Glen an early birthday present and I'm sure the guys in the Wild locker room are going to try just as hard to make it two in a row for Mr. Andresen.
I was down at the Xcel Energy Center for the first semifinal tonight, but I just had
to get home to my Bloomington couch so I could watch the Wild whip the Canucks. Sorry North Dakota and Michigan fans, but your teams don't hold a candle to the rivalry that is a Minnesota-Vancouver match up. College hockey only does so much for me when a cannonball in a suit isn't on the line, so I had to turn my attention back to NHL hockey.
Another reason I wanted to be sure I watched tonight's game? Niklas Backstrom
will start in net for the Wild. While the Canucks goaltenders often struggle in the Minnesota-Vancouver match ups, Backstrom does not. I'm going to go ahead and call back-to-back shutout losses for the Canucks.
Plenty of youngsters will help the Wild get the big W tonight after a rash of late-season Wild injuries. Wild PR Guru Aaron Sickman just informed me that Chuck Kobasew will miss tonight's contest due to personal reasons. That means both teams will be playing with 17 skaters. Cal Clutterbuck
is ill and will be chowing down on Vitamin C tablets as he watches tonight's game from Vancouver. John Madden (lower body), Martin Havlat (upper body), Cam Barker (upper body), Marek Zidlicky (lower body), Nick Schultz (concussion), Marco Scandella
(finger), Guillaume Latendresse
(abdominal), Josh Harding
(knee) and James Sheppard (knee) are all out of the lineup, but surely are following along on wild.com from Minnesota. Get well soon, guys!
As for the apparel tonight, your Minnesota Wild will be going with the trusty road whites. Vancouver will sport the bright blue sweaters with the stick across the chest. The Canucks are presented with the President's Trophy for the NHL's best regular-season record and Manny Malhotra comes out to help his teammates take the award. Even if you don't like the Canucks, you have to be pulling for Malhotra, who's had multiple eye surgeries after getting hit with a puck in his visor-less face earlier this season.
OK, enough college hockey talk around these parts; let's get to the action from the big boys!Period 1
20:00 - I saw Mikko Koivu
on the screen and just wanted to make it known I hope the Canucks make him…peeved…tonight. He's put on some dominant performances, and in my opinion, plays his best when he's angry with the 'Nucks.
17:14 - The first big test for Niklas Backstrom
as U.S. Olympian Ryan Kesler charges into the Wild zone. He beats Koivu and Maxim Noreu, but Backs is up to the task and gloves the puck for a whistle.
16:38 - It's not quite an angry Mikko, but it will do. Koivu charges through three blue sweaters and is tripped as he heads to the net. Minnesota will have the first power play of the game as Aaron Rome heads to the penalty box.
14:38 - Minnesota managed three shots with the man advantage, including a brilliant move by Matt Cullen
and chance by Brent Burns, but Roberto Luongo keeps it scoreless in Vancouver as we're back to 5-on-5.
12:40 - Colton Gillies has already seen time on the power play and is showing the jump of a kid wanting to impress on his callup and in front of his hometown fans.11:48 - Wild 0, Canucks 1 - Why do the Canucks just have to ruin Green Day's Holiday for me? A great song is tainted by the Vancouver goal horn after Mason Raymond rips a laser from the right circle over the shoulder of Backstrom. It seems like the Wild have had the better chances to start the game, but Vancouver will get on the scoreboard first.
9:57 - You always hold your breath on a play like this, but especially when Pierre-Marc Bouchard
is involved. Bouchard is interfered with at the center-ice boards as he's hit by the shoulder of Alex Edler. Butch gets up slowly, but thankfully, is back on the ice with seemingly no ill-effects as the Wild goes to the power play again.
4:30 - The Canucks are showing some of their offensive threat now. The latest chances comes when Kesler leaves a drop pass for Mikael Samuelsson, who throws a backhand towards the net but sails just wide. 0:28 - Wild 0, Canucks 2 - For real Vancouver, stop ruining the song. The Canucks double their lead with a power-play goal as Kyle Brodziak sits in the penalty box for cross checking. Daniel Sedin slides a cross-ice pass to his twin, Henrik, who finds Kesler alone in front. Keselr tips the puck into an open net and the Canucks get an important late-period goal.
0:00 - Certainly a disappointing end to the period as the Wild finds itself down a pair despite a pretty solid period against the best team in the NHL. Minnesota will grab some electrolytes and discuss a few things as it looks to even this thing out in the second.Period 2
19:40 - For real? Some crazy Vancouver fan throws a fish on the ice. The official doesn't want to touch it and uses a towel to get it off of the ice. It just makes me want sushi.
18:06 - This deserves a "for real?" too. Brodziak's earlier penalty was questionable but I'll say this one borders on ridiculous. Behind the net, Brodziak and Henrik tangle up, with Sedin going down and Kyle falling on top of him. It seems like Brodziak just trips and takes a light tumble, but the officials are going to call it roughing.
17:00 - Michigan goalie Shawn Hunwick has backstopped the Wolverines to a 2-0 win against the Fighting Sioux with an outstanding performance, apparently. The 5-foot-7 goalie made 40 saves to make it a UMD-Michigan National Championship in St. Paul Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center.
14:58 - The Wild will go on the power play as Kevin Bieksa barrels into Niklas Backstrom
during a Canucks chance. It's a scary moment as Backs stays sprawled out on the ice, but he gets up slowly and will stay in net.
14:11 - I thought that was it. Gillies stands in front of the Vancouver net and almost puts home a Kyle Brodziak
feed with the big body, but Luongo comes up with the big save.
12:50 - Wow. Now that's a big save. After a Wild charge, Koivu right on the doorstep for a great chance. He takes his time, making moves trying to fake out Luongo, but Roberto stays with it and somehow makes a spectacular stop on Koivu's quick forehand shot. The crowd is absolutely roaring after that save.12:40 - Wild 0, Canucks 3 - Isn't that the way things have gone for the Wild? After a great Minnesota chance, Vancouver charges back and scores. Kesler gets his second marker of the night as he pushes to the outside of Clayton Stoner and catches Backstrom by surprise, popping a shot over his glove. I'm sure Backs would like to have another chance at that one.
10:49 - Wild 0, Canucks 4 - Not cool. A game in which the Wild hasn't looked bad is starting to turn into a blowout on the scoreboard. Those are the worst. Raymond must be feeling the mojo of his UMD Bulldog brothers as he tallies his second goal of the night. Daniel Sedin does the hard work of charging into the Wild zone before slamming on the breaks and deftly sliding the pass to Raymond, who pops a shot over Backstrom's shoulder. All I can say is thank goodness Raymond didn't bleach his hair like the rest of the UMD crew. I don't think I could watch that in HD all night.
5:03 - A great chance here for the Wild as Michigan alumnus Eric Nystrom works behind the Vancouver net and shovels a pass to Jed Ortmeyer
, who's right in front of the Vancouver goal. Ortmeyer tries to squeak the puck trough with a couple of jabs as a crowd of blue jerseys converge on him, but Luongo holds tough along the iron.
0:00 - The Wild gets some solid chances on big blasts from defensemen on the blue line, but the horn sounds to signal the end of the second with the Wild down, 4-0. The Wild is only trailing in the shot advantage, 18-21, but that's not the number they must be frustrated with right now.Period 3
19:14 - The man's so good at blocking shots and pushing defensemen off the puck , you forget he has a pretty heavy shot, too. Greg Zanon unleashes a blast from the left point but Luongo gets his glove up quick to earn a whistle.17:42 - Wild 0, Canucks 5 - Yuck. I don't like watching the hats fall to the ice, but I really despise that it comes after the Wild nearly gets on the board. After Mikko Koivu sets up a great chance for Minnesota, Luongo pushes the puck up ice and Kesler earns the hat trick with a quick release from the right circle sails over the far side of Backstrom. Jose Theodore will step in to relieve Backs and will have plenty of time to stretch out, as the Vancouver ice crew picks up the hats. By the way, why do the girls on the ice crew wear figure skates? Toe picks aren't good for business; time to change it up.
16:44 - What the heck are you thinking, Jannik Hansen? As Bouchard charges up ice, Hansen comes across and hits him into the linesmen. Now that's completely legitimate, Jannik, but my problem comes when you continue after Bouchard and literally punch him in the back of the head. Butch goes down to the ice and his linemates swarm in as a big crowd gathers. The refs will send Hansen to the box for roughing, and the Canucks should only hope there will be no further discipline from the NHL for their already-shortened lineup.
10:42 - The third period is flying as we're nearly at the halfway point of the stanza. Minnesota's had some solid chances, leading the shot total in the period, 7-4, but Luongo is still perfect on the evening.
7:40 - Antti Miettinen has his best shift of the night, burning around the Vancouver zone as the Wild gets multiple scoring chances on Luongo. The best is again Ortmeyer heading to the net, but Luongo is on his game tonight. What's this about, Roberto? Not to be blunt, but you're normally horrible against Minnesota. I liked you a lot more back then.
4:11 - Some excitement here as Matt Cullen
powers to the net and fires a shot on net, but the real fireworks come when Brad Staubitz gives a cross check to Keith Ballard on the other side of Luongo. It causes another big scrum on the ice, but the refs quickly pull Staubitz away and send him down the runway. He'll officially be given two minutes for cross checking and a 10-minute misconduct.
1:10 - The Wild continues to outshoot the Canucks, desperately trying to ruin the Canucks shutout, but Luongo's having none of that.
0:00 - That'll do it. A difficult 5-0 loss for the Wild, who seemed to play a much better game than that score. Nonetheless, Minnesota will be able to get back at it tomorrow night in Edmonton.