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Glen Andresen's Five Takeaways at Phoenix

by Glen Andresen / Minnesota Wild

March 4: vs. Colorado

March 2:
at Detroit

March 1:
at Montreal

Feb. 28:
vs. Los Angeles

Feb. 26:
vs. San Jose
Typically 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 Phoenix Coyotes:

If you said the Minnesota Wild gutted out a 3-2 shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes, you’d be speaking the truth. Devin Setoguchi was puking his guts out during the game, and yet he still finished it out and was one of three Wild players to score in the shootout.

The Wild was already shorthanded going into this one with Jared Spurgeon falling ill last night, and Clayton Stoner unable to return from his lower body injury. Sure enough, starting goaltender Josh Harding suffered a lower body injury midway through the game, leaving the Wild with five defensemen and one goalie for the second half of the game.

But the Wild hung tough, got two early goals from Kyle Brodziak and Steve Kampfer, and withstood a Coyotes rally to get to the shootout, and get the win.

"Unvelievable character win," said Head Coach Mike Yeo.

This victory might go down as one of the most impressive in team history when you consider what’s happened today, and on this trip.

Quick recap: On Tuesday, the Wild is thumped by the Colorado Avalanche, 7-1, with Cal Clutterbuck not feeling well and out of the lineup. Late Wednesday night, Jared Spurgeon gets sick, and he’s unavailable. On Wednesday morning, the Wild recalls Tyler Cuma from Houston, but he’s in British Columbia and has to fly to Houston, and then catch a flight to Phoenix. It didn’t happen. Assistant Coach Darryl Sydor leaves the team to go back to Minnesota to deal with a personal issue, so Darby Hendrickson moved from the press box to the bench. 

So we get to gametime. Stoner warms up, and he can’t go. Setoguchi gets sick. The Wild goes with five defensemen for the entirety of the game, and three of them – Tom Gilbert, Steve Kampfer and Marco Scandella – play more than 30 minutes. Harding goes down, and a cold Matt Hackett comes in and faces a steaming mad Coyotes team that is throwing everything at the net.

He’s up to the task. The Wild withstands a third period Phoenix rally. And gets the win.

One of the strangest days in Wild history ends with two points.

So what happens to the Wild in goal right now? Throughout the system, the Wild is littered with top goaltending prospects. But Hackett is already here. Darcy Kuemper is injured. Dennis Endras and Johan Gustafsson are in Europe. Stephen Michalek is still just a freshman at Harvard.

As of tonight, we don’t know the extent of Harding’s injury, but the team is likely going to have to find someone to back up Hackett on Sunday against Calgary. So what are the options?

If the Wild tried to claim a goaltender off waivers, he wouldn’t be able to play until Monday. The team could use its final contract to sign a goaltender from the minors like Bemidji native Joe Fallon, who was recently picked up by the Aeros after Hackett’s recall and Kuemper’s injury.  Or, maybe they could go after a college free agent whose career ends.

Who that would be is anybody’s guess. Bemidji State’s Dan Bakala is a senior and his season would be over if the Beavers lose this weekend to North Dakota. But if the two teams split on Friday and Saturday, he’d have to be available on Sunday.  Alaska Anchorage senior and backup Dusan Sidor will be in town to face the Gophers, but he’s in the same spot. If the Seawolves and Gophers split the first two games, he can’t be available.

Chuck Fletcher may have to post a job opening on Craigslist.

There are now 14 games left on the schedule, and now we get to see if this team can make some hay at home. The Flames game kicks off a five-game homestand that will also feature visits from Dallas, Carolina, Vancouver and Calgary again. Those are all big games.

Regardless of wins and losses, these games will be showcases for guys like Kampfer, Hackett, Nick Palmieri, and really everybody. Wild fans will want to see how these guys might figure into the future, and a solid homestand will go a long way toward doing that.

Finally, we shift our focus back to the Wild’s home rink, which is being run by the high school kids this week. It was a tough day for fans of high-seeded teams in the AA bracket. Maple Grove, Eagan, my Duluth East Greyhounds and Edina all lost.

That’s what makes the state tournament what it is, especially in the AA tournament. Anybody can beat anybody, and this year’s field is as good as we’ve ever seen. And you have to think that fate is on the side of Benilde-St. Margaret’s, who has to be the first private school to become the sentimental favorite at the state tournament.

If you’re on Twitter, you hopefully saw the photo of Jack Jablonski smiling after Christian Horn scored in the final 20 seconds to give the Red Knights the lead. That might be one of the most heartwarming photos you’ll ever see.
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