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 4-1 victory over the Oilers in Edmonton.
Don’t get me wrong, I predicted a Minnesota Wild victory tonight over the Edmonton Oilers, and our boys proved me to be a genius once again by dumping the Oil, 4-1. But, there was this devil named Negative Tom, who was standing on my shoulder and chirping in my ear, saying this would be a dangerous game. After a stirring 4-0 win over Vancouver on Sunday, and the prospect of having to get up for the worst team in the Conference on the road started to have my buying in a little bit to what Negative Tom was trying to sell.
But then I started listening to Positive Pat on my left shoulder. He was telling me the Wild had played six consecutive periods of outstanding hockey and they would be able to keep that going. He insisted the Oilers were in trouble without regulars like Jordan Eberle, Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Whitney. Positive Pat also reminded me that the Wild is a brand new team in road games this year. You know what? Positive Pat was right. There was nothing to fear. As long as the Wild stayed out of the box, this one would be an easy 4-1 victory.
“We got the two points, that’s what we came up here for,” said Head Coach Todd Richards. “The goaltender was great. He was the difference in the game.”
Actually, “easy” might not be the exact word I’m looking for. Richards said, “Our execution was horrendous tonight.” But what was more challenging was the Wild’s parade to the penalty box for the second straight game in Edmonton. The first six penalties of the game were called on the Wild, and that included two penalties within 20 seconds of each other in the second period.
The Wild penalty killers were spectacular all night (until the very end), but it was head scratching. The last time the Wild visited Edmonton, they were called for 10 minor penalties that resulted in Oiler power plays. I would say most of the calls were correct, but once again, there were plenty of chances to call Oiler interference or cross checks and they never were.
Penalties finally were called on Edmonton in the third, but by that time, things were starting to get out of hand. Theo Peckham, known for his fighting ability, repeatedly crosschecked Martin Havlat while the Wild star was on the ice. When Havlat responded by tripping the hulking defenseman, he wanted to fight. Really Theo?
Of course, during that confrontation, another fighter and one of the most irritating players in the league – Zack Stortini – found Wild All-Star Brent Burns and wanted to fight. Detractors can say whatever they want, but Burns isn’t going to give himself up for five minutes in exchange for a guy like Stortini. Burns never even dropped his gloves while Stortini attempted to land blows to the kidney and the head. Really Zack?
Finally, Brad Staubitz had had enough. He reacted to a Jean-Francois Jacques hit on Andrew Brunette late in the game and dropped the gloves. Staubitz was given an instigator penalty, which could result in a fine for Richards. When asked if he thinks he’ll have to write a check, he smiled, “I don’t write checks. My wife writes all the checks.”
Richards took a more serious tone when he said, "We'll see what happens the next time we come up here." Is it too early to predict a Matt Kassian
recall sometime before February 22?
I can’t believe we’re down to number four and I haven’t even mentioned Anton Khudobin. Sometimes I go off on tangents. I guess I’m a little like Khudobin in that way. The guy might be all over the place, but he almost always ends up in the postgame press area after another win.
Tonight was Khudobin’s first start on the road, and by golly, the kid was all right once again. He’s unorthodox. At times it looked like he got lucky when the Oilers missed about 10 open nets. And yet, he extended his shutout streak to nearly six periods. Only a late and meaningless power play goal prevented his second straight shutout, and a shameless Wild.com headline of “Khu Da Man?”
And finally the goal scorers: Matt Cullen
now has a goal in two straight games. Burns now has 13 goals on the season. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
has nine career goals against Edmonton, which is his highest total against any opponent. And Andrew Brunette scored a goal for the third straight game, and he now has 250 NHL goals and 300 points in a Wild sweater. I would say that if Cullen, Burns, Bouchard and Brunette are scoring goals, things are looking bright and sunshiny for the good guys.