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Five Takeaways at Vancouver

by Glen Andresen / Minnesota Wild

Wild GameDay

vs. Chicago: March 31

vs. Los Angeles: March 29

at Detroit: March 26

at Philadelphia: March 25

vs. San Jose: March 23

vs. Calgary: March 21

vs. Edmonton: March 16

vs. St. Louis: March 14

at Buffalo: March 12

Following Wild games, Managing Editor Glen Andresen will give the five takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-3 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

Where do I even start when I try to describe this game?

It’s interesting, but I often ask that question after the Minnesota Wild plays the Vancouver Canucks. Most of the time, that’s because there were some type of shenanigans by Canuck agitators that cause the game to morph into a pirate bar brawl on the island of Tortuga.

On this Easter Sunday, the chippiness was relatively minimal, yet this one was still memorable. The Wild nearly pulled off yet another amazing comeback, only to be spoiled by a ridiculous penalty call in overtime that had Todd Richards staying on his bench well after his players left.  

First, the good stuff. When Alex Edler fired a long wrist shot from his own end with less than a minute left, he found the net. He seemingly iced the game, giving Vancouver a 3-1 lead.

Perhaps even Todd Richards thought it was over. He put Backstrom back in goal, and he sent rookies Casey Wellman and Cody Almond out on the ice. Within seconds, Wellman zipped a centering pass to Almond who chipped it through Roberto Luongo to cut the lead to one. Hey, so at least we got a first career goal out of the game, if not a point.

But then, the Wild failed to quit again. The next shift, Andrew Brunette got the puck behind the net, passed to the side for Antti Miettinen. If you were sleeping instead of watching, you may have been awakened by a faint gasp from 1,800 miles away as Miettinen punched a shot into the top shelf. In a season of comebacks, this one was about to be the sweetest.

That sweetness turned to an acidic taste thanks to a horrendous call in overtime, made even worse because it was Alex Burrows who drew the call. As he tried to pull off some behind-the-back, through-the-skates move on Greg Zanon, he lost control of the puck. So he lifted Zanon’s stick, hitting himself in the face, and of course embellishing it to the point that he should be embarrassed.

Sure enough, Zanon got called for a high stick. And of course, Sami Salo ended the game shortly thereafter. The two most frustrating parts of this entire sequence were: 1) seeing Burrows giggling on the bench right after Zanon got called, and 2) watching the refs ignore Richards’ request to talk to them after the game, because after all, why should they ever have to explain an awful call?

Back to Wellman and Almond for a bit. Richards said today that he wasn’t just going to throw these guys out on the ice in all different scenarios just to get them experience. He wants to win. But these guys nearly played a big hand in a win thanks to their hustle. Wellman was speeding around all night, and his setup to Almond was a thing of beauty.

Almond showed his toughness on the play as well, going right to the net and fighting off a defender while traveling at full speed. It’s always fun to see a guy get his first NHL goal. Hopefully we get to see it again with Wellman before the year is out.

Last but not least, Nik Backstrom was unbelievable again tonight. He stopped 36 shots, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him make so many of the spectacular, sprawling variety. There were too many to list here, but he was the reason the Wild wasn’t down by seven after two periods.

While his stats may have spiked in the wrong direction this season, Backstrom’s ability to show up with his best for every game has never waned. Yes, I am biased (and paid by the Wild), but we are lucky to have this guy.
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