Hi there, State of Hockey Legion! It's Carly Peters, here for another edition of live, in-game commentary. Our trusty friend Glen Andresen is still on vacation in Florida, so I'll be filling you in on all of tonight's action from the Al Shaver Press Box at Xcel Energy Center. Truth be told, it's my first in-game commentary for a home game,and I'm pumped to share the experience with you all. I'm in my usual seat high above center ice and have completed my pregame routine of a meal with members of the actual
media followed by a half-caf coffee. You see, I'm already so pumped for tonight's contest that I didn't want to go overboard with the caffeine for fear that I'd jump out of my seat at one of the many
Minnesota Wild goals that will be scored tonight.
There will be too many Wild players scoring this evening for me to mention them all right now, but I will bring up Niklas Backstrom
, who I've slated for a shutout this glorious evening. You see, Backs has his own little pregame routine, too, and it was clear to see he's dialed in to the "completely" setting when I saw him take his trance-walk earlier this evening around the Xcel Energy Center basement. Those poor guys from Edmonton will just have to take their 16th straight plane ride home with big frowns on their faces because it's going to be another Wild win in St. Paul.
One guy who will be smiling tonight is Chuck Kobasew, who'll return to the lineup after missing the last contest with a leg injury. Unfortunately, the injury bug still has a hold on some of the good guys, so Cam Barker (upper body), Josh Harding
(knee), Guillaume Latendresse
(abdominal), James Sheppard (knee) and Marco Scandella
(finger) will watch tonight's game over my shoulder in the press box.
For the fashionistas out there, you can never go wrong with red, and that's the color your Minnesota Wild will be rocking tonight. Edmonton has the - dare we say boring? - white sweaters with the oil-drop center logo on tonight. Clearly, the Wild's already won the fashion war, now we just need to get this hockey game started.
Catie Tobin from the Hobey Baker Committee has started us off with the "Let's Play Hockey!" call, so it's time to get No. 16. It's going to be sweet!Period 1
18:00 - In his first test of the night, Niklas Backstrom
is calm, cool and collected. First, he takes care of Jordan Eberle's shot from the slot with his chest protector, and then, after the puck takes a very weird and dangerous bounce behind the net and pops over his shoulder, he calmly covers the puck to put a stop to the play.
14:00 - If the play stays at this brisk pace, we'll be out of here by 9. Each team is getting a few chances in the opposition's end, but most are blocked by the defense, so it's been a night with few whistles.
13:10 - Andrew Brunette takes a pass at center ice and charges (well, in Andrew Brunette speed) into the Oilers zone. Hey, the 37-year-old still has some zip in his skates, because Theo Peckham gets nervous and trips Bruno at the circles. Minnesota will get the first power play of the game.12:36 - Wild 1, Oilers 0 - Yeah, baby! That's how you take advantage of the PP. With Brunette parked in his "reserved" spot behind the net, he passes the puck to Matt Cullen at the left circle. Cullen fires a wrister that is tipped in front by Antti Miettinen and slides past Nikolai Khabibulin.
12:01 - Wild 2, Oilers 0 - This will get the crowd going! While the fans are still cheering Mittens' opening tally, Marek Zidlicky decides he wants in on the action too. Fine by me, Zid! Pierre-Marc Bouchard passes the puck from behind the net to Zidlicky, who is streaking down the middle of the ice. Marek gets a quick shot off and the puck bounces off Jeff Petry's skate before finding the back of the Edmonton net.
8:15 - The Wild has been swarming since getting on the scoreboard, but the Oilers will finally get a chance to establish some offensive-zone pressure after Antti Miettinen takes a high stick to visor-less Ryan Jones. He draws blood, apparently, because the Oilers will have a four-minute power play.
5:58 - This is going to take multiple looks on the replay to determine this one. Former Jefferson Jaguar Tom Gilbert
pinches in and drives to the Wild net, getting a shot off which Backstrom is able to save, but it forces Backs out of the goal. Nick Schultz is left to play goalie as he turns aside Jones, but the puck trickles through. The red light is lit as it seems like the puck goes over the red line, but on second look, it's clear Brent Burns made the superb save as he dove to get the puck out of the danger zone.
5:26 - Now it's Khabibulin's turn to make some amazing saves. Penalty killer extraordinaire John Madden fires a shot from the left circle, and the rebound bounces out to a charging Chuck Kobasew. Kobasew gets a shot off, but Khabibulin dives and blocks the shot with his helmet. Meanwhile, Madden hasn't stopped working and circles the net, catching the rebound of Kobasew's shot and firing on goal. Again, Khabibulin dives to get his body in front of the puck and make a remarkable save.
0:00 - Phew! An exciting, fast-paced and hectic period ends with the Wild up two. That's the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it. The Wild will load up on some Gatorade and I might need a cool beverage, too, after all that fun.Period 2
18:40 - Just another typical shift for Cal Clutterbuck
. As Petry, goes to clear the puck out of the Edmonton zone along the boards, Clutter gives a great effort on the forecheck and finishes it with a loud hit in the corner. The crowd roars with approval for the league leader.
15:15 - Jared Spurgeon
gets the puck off the faceoff and fires a blast from the right point. Kyle Brodziak
is perfectly positioned in front of Khabibulin to make a tip, but the goalie is able to get his body in front of the puck and send the rubber up ice.13:37 - Wild 3, Oilers 0 - Didn't I tell you to prep for a lot of Wild goals? I love it when I'm correct. Brad Staubitz adds his name to the list of tonight's Wild goal scorers when he finishes off a nice rush up ice with the help of a little luck. Madden takes the puck at center ice and charges in the Oilers end, where he sends the puck to Eric Nystrom, who's streaking up the middle. Nystrom's in the clear to take a shot on net, but opts to slide a backhand pass to Staubitz, who is sitting on the doorstep. It turns out to be a good decision when Staubitz's shot clanks the iron and rolls down Khabibulin's back into the net.
12:08 - Chill, Theo. After the Wild makes another drive up ice, Peckham takes a jab at Clutterbuck behind the Edmonton net. Clutter sees the ref throws up his arm and is smart enough to skate away. However, Peckham doesn't like it and whacks him again as the hit the hash marks. A fracas occurs between all the players on the ice, and Bouchard gets a slash in that will even out Peckham's roughing call.
10:55 - Yikes! You never want to see this. As Miettinen turns his head to the boards to grab the puck, Jim Vandermeer cross checks him in the numbers. Mittens falls face first into the boards in a very dangerous play, but thankfully gets up with no apparent ill effects. The Wild will have another chance on the PP as Vandermeer heads to the box for cross-checking.
8:06 - This game is getting plenty physical very quickly. Eric Nystrom makes a HE-UGE hit on Jean-Francois Jacques behind the Edmonton net as the Oiler tries to get ahold of the puck. The crowd LOVES it.6:47 - Wild 4, Oilers 0 - The boys are making me look smarter and smarter and I'm loving every single second of it. As the Wild yet again charges into the Edmonton zone, Cullen is upended by Petry. The ref raised his arm to make the, what I would assume to be, interference call, but we never get the whistle because Marty Havlat fires a blast from the top of the left circle that flies over Khabibulin's glove.
3:55 - It's all Minnesota right now. They continue to hold the puck in the Edmonton zone and Havlat holds his ground in the right corner. His hard work pays off as Chris VandeVelde takes a holding penalty. Between all the Oiler penalties and rough stuff, I'd say Edmonton is plenty frustrated right now.0:40.7 - Wild 4, Oilers 1 - That's too bad; Backstrom won't be getting another shutout tonight. With the Oilers on a power play after Miettinen was called for a high stick, Gilbert shoots from the blue line with a ton of traffic in front of the net. The puck finds its way through and squeezes past the left side of Backstrom. Tom, didn't you hear? I'm all for JHS success as long as it doesn't come against the Wild. Get with it, man.
0:00 - The horn sounds and the Wild will regroup after allowing a late goal to break the shutout. The good news? The good guys are still up three.Period 3
15:50 - The man can hit, but you better not underestimate Clutterbuck's offensive skills. Cal takes the puck from center ice and makes Peckham look stupid with some dipsy-doodle's, sending the puck through Peckham's legs, spinning and re-gathering the puck, before he sends a pass to Bouchard, who is waiting at the front of the Oiler net. Khabibulin is tested with the great scoring chance but remains tough to keep it a three-goal Wild lead.
12:50 - Holy save, Batman. After Gilbert Brule charges into the Wild zone, he takes all of the Wild defenders with him. Liam Reddox slips down the left side unnoticed and takes the pass to go one-on-one with Backstrom. Backs uses an amazing reach with his left toe to slam the door on that Edmonton chance.
8:50 - Edmonton gets some pressure in the Wild zone and their effort is rewarded when Mikko Koivu
is forced to take a penalty. As Jones circles around the hash marks, Koivu gets his stick out and will go to the box for tripping.
7:18 - Things get a little more interesting when Linus Omark races with the puck towards the net and Kyle Brodziak
takes the hooking penalty. Edmonton will have a two-man advantage.
6:55 - Gosh, is Backstrom full of highlight-reel saves tonight, or what? Teemu Hartikainen (try saying that 10-times fast) is all alone on the doorstep and Backs somehow slides to his right and throws the right pad down to rob the Oiler.
5:43 - The Wild isn't making things easy for itself as Brent Burns takes a slashing penalty and Edmonton will go back to the two-man advantage.5:16 - Wild 4, Oilers 2 - Edmonton cashes in on the PP as Omark holds the puck at the right faceoff dot before deciding to shoot, sending a quick laser over Backstrom's glove that pops the water bottle as it hits the netting.
3:12 - Credit the Oilers for giving a late charge. Using the momentum of its goal, Edmonton has been swarming and Eberle nearly makes it a one-goal game, but Backstrom whips out the glove and hold on to give the Wild a breather.
0:19.6 - Again, I do not like these dangerous plays. After Khabibulin is pulled for the extra attacker, Clutterbuck races up the ice to catch up with the puck sailing towards the open net. As they reach the hash marks, Gilbert Brule makes an obvious stab at Clutter's skate and he tumbles to the ice, dangerously close to the end boards. Thankfully, Cal gets up unscathed, but its no thanks to Brule, who will go to the penalty box for tripping, at frankly, one of the worst spots on the ice.
0:00 - The horn sounds, and not shockingly, the Oilers start to take out their frustration on the Wild. Peckham tries to go after Staubitz, but Brad just wants to celebrate with his team and skates away as the refs come in between the two. The Wild players give Backstrom a tap on the pads and come to center ice where they raise their sticks in gratitude of the home crowd, before giving the jerseys off their backs to some lucky fans on the ice. A sweet end to a stellar night and Wild home win!