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 3-2 shootout win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Throughout each Minnesota Wild game, I try to jot down some nuggets that have potential to end up in Five Takeaways. Tonight, when all was said and done after the Wild’s 3-2 shootout victory over the Colorado Avalanche, I had a list of 12. But, since I only had our graphic designers create five of those little logos with the numbers on them, I’ll have to be somewhat selective.
But this was a fantastic game for the good guys tonight. Coming off a big win over the Avs in yesterday’s matinee, the Wild may have turned in their best performance of the season. To do so in back-to-back games, with key players injured and in high altitude makes the victory all the more impressive. Normally, the second of back-to-backs are dreaded by everybody in the League (including website workers), but the Wild is now 3-2-0 in those situations.
The Wild thoroughly outplayed the Avalanche in all facets in all three regulation periods. Even trailing 2-0 after one, Minnesota had to feel good about how it played. The Avs took advantage of some early chances against Josh Harding
(who got his first win of the season), but the Wild looked dominant. Head Coach Todd Richards talked about wanting his team to be a puck possession team, and that’s what the boys were tonight. At times, they looked like the Detroit Red Wings from two years ago, completely controlling the puck and not letting the opponent get a sniff.
How about the three new guys tonight? Guillaume Latendresse
scored his first goal in a Wild sweater and it was one of the team’s biggest goals of the season. Latendresse had just hopped off the bench and crashed the slot to bury the rebound of a shallow angle Owen Nolan shot that Colorado netminder Craig Anderson had steered out front with his blocker.
Andrew Ebbett, who has been a sparkplug since joining the Wild, picked up the clinching goal in the shootout after briefly losing control of the puck. Ebbett calmly reacted to the situation and just slid the puck under Anderson to become the first Wild player not named Koivu to score in the shootout this season. Of course, Koivu scored the Wild’s first goal in the shootout by pulling out his patented backhand flip, and he now has three to the rest of his team’s one.
And let’s not forget Jaime Sifers, who was called up from Houston yesterday. With Marek Zidlicky out with a lower body injury, Sifers played over 19 minutes, which included significant minutes in the third period and overtime. The former Vermont Catamount looked extremely poised out there and played mistake-free defense.
As a former goaltender, I can tell you that there are two saves that every goalie wants to make. One involves having to stack the pads and then having to flip them over to the other side when the puck reverses direction. It rarely happens, and probably shouldn’t in the NHL, since a goalie doesn’t deck the pads unless it’s absolutely necessary.
The other save is the “deck pad glove save” and Josh Harding
pulled one out of his…um…magician’s hat tonight. ( Wild TV: Josh Harding's sick glove save
) On a Paul Stastny breakaway in the second period, Harding stacked the pillows. Stastny’s shot sailed over them, but Harding had his glove up there and he snared it for a highlight reel save. It was the best save in a great night for Harding, who needed a win to boost his confidence. After two rough starts at the beginning of the season, Hards has been stellar in his last two starts.
Let’s give some dap to the referees for once tonight. There were three “controversial” plays in tonight’s game, and the zebras got the call right each time. First, the Avs appeared to take a 2-0 lead in the first when Matt Duchene used a high stick to bat the puck out of midair. The puck hit Koivu before going in, but the refs correctly waved off the goal and upheld the call upon review. The Avs eventually did get a 2-0 lead off Duchene’s stick. The Avs rookie easily fired a shot over Harding, who was down on the ice after being tripped up. Harding and Richards protested by saying that David Jones tripped him, but it was clear on the replay that it was Kim Johnsson who felled the goaltender. Finally, Ebbett had a goal called off on a similar play to Duchene’s non-goal. A floating puck hit Ebbett’s glove before it hit Adam Foote and went into the net. This one was called a goal, but was reversed later, and correctly.
And while we’re on the subject of penalties and dap, the Wild earned some props by taking exactly one minor penalty all game. Of course, it led to a Colorado first period goal, but still. I guess when you have the puck most of the time, you don’t have to take too many penalties.
Eric Belanger is a streaky scorer as we have seen in his three seasons with the Wild. Let’s hope he started another hot streak tonight. After a great month of October, Belanger was in danger of going the entire month of November without a goal. In the second, he stole the puck in the neutral zone and then crushed a slapper that looked like it went through Anderson’s body.