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 2-1 overtime win over the Calgary Flames.
Where to begin? Did the Minnesota Wild really just pull two points out of the Saddledome? In nine years of existence, this is the fourth time that this has ever happened, and I believe it’s the first time that I’ve ever had the privilege of writing those words and still be telling the truth.
Tonight, the Wild didn’t look intimidated by the building, or Calgary’s big defensemen or Jarome Iginla. It was Minnesota that dominated from start to finish, but there was still one factor that made this game look like another cursed outing for the Wild. Miikka Kiprusoff was absolutely brilliant in stopping 44 shots, but you never once saw a Wild player shaking his head in disgust or looking up to the sunken roof in disbelief. The team stayed with it and battled for this win, and from the living room, it looked like the team’s best performance of the year. The only shame is that the Flames picked up a point as well, but let’s not let Debbie Downer into the party. This victory was huge, and it guarantees a winning road trip. I’m not sure anyone who was with the team for its first five-game roadie of the year would have thought this one was possible.
This was billed as a goaltender’s duel, and it did not disappoint in that respect. Let’s just say that Team Finland should be in good shape between the pipes in February. Niklas Backstrom
was outstanding in giving up just one goal, but he was overshadowed by the guy that will likely start over him for Team Finland in the 2010 Olympics. Kiprusoff kept this from being a 6-1 runaway victory for the Wild. In the game’s final minutes, Minnesota players touched the puck and just threw it at the net. Every time, there was someone there to put a tip on it, and each time, Kiprusoff put up a wall.
If I had a vote for the Vezina trophy, and believe it or not, I don’t, I’d give it to Ilya Bryzgalov for what he’s done for Phoenix this year. But, if I had to pick the best goaltender in the National Hockey League, I’d give it to Kiprusoff, and this game just solidified that opinion.
On the Qwest Wild Live postgame show, Anthony Lapanta said that Darby Hendrickson told him before the game that 1) the Wild would beat the Flames, and 2) Martin Havlat would score the game-winner. Although he didn’t say it on air, I’m going to believe Darby said it, because the guy is so nice, he’d find something complimentary to say about the cast of Jersey Shore.
Havlat has been very good on this road trip, and tonight, he was outstanding. He made several fantastic plays that yielded nothing except fantastic saves by Kiprusoff. He stayed with it and he was everywhere. When he needed to shoot, he shot with authority. When he needed to pass, he put the puck right on the tape of his linemates. When he needed to step up in a big spot against a team he’s always fared well against, he buried the overtime game-winner to cap off a two-point night.
Todd Richards said in his postgame interview that everybody stepped up, and it’s hard to argue. James Sheppard proved he’s not just a wing, by turning in an outstanding performance with a goal and several battles for the puck where he came out on top. Kyle Brodziak
was everywhere tonight. Shane Hnidy got the first goal started by sending the puck to the net. Guillaume Latendresse
had a bunch of good scoring chances, as did Cal Clutterbuck
and Antti Miettinen. Chuck Kobasew was zipping around all night, and saved a goal by sliding into the Wild crease and making a great skate save. All six defensemen were extremely solid. Finally, Derek Boogaard was in the lineup for a reason against this big and strong Flames team.
Boogey nearly scored on one play, and he owned Brian McGrattan once again. If you need a reminder, here’s a link
to their first meeting. This one didn’t get any better for McGrattan. Boogaard connected with the Flames enforcer’s ear hole and put him down on the ice quickly.
Finally, a big congrats goes out to Wild P.R. guru and stati-magician, Ryan Stanzel, who tied the knot with Xcel Energy Center Suite Services manager, Keri Johnson, last night at Horace Mann Elementary School in St. Paul. The two met while mentoring students at the school, and that’s where Ryan proposed this past summer. Now, they are the nation’s hottest wedding sensation since that couple that danced down the aisle, also in St. Paul. The beautiful couple was featured on KARE 11, and now they’ve made an appearance on MSNBC
.com. I bet the Today Show will be calling soon, but I don’t think they’ll be able to make it. Ryan has stats to track.