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Glen Andresen's Five Takeaways at St. Louis

by Glen Andresen / Minnesota Wild

Dec. 31: vs. Phoenix

Dec. 29:
vs. Edmonton

Dec. 28:
at Nashville

Dec. 26:
vs Colorado

Dec. 22:
at Edmonton
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 loss to the St. Louis Blues:

Sometimes, when things aren’t going so well, it just takes one player to step up and make a difference. It certainly helps when that player is a goaltender, and Josh Harding took a Big Green Giant step up by helping the Wild gain a point in a 3-2 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Harding finished with a career-high 47 saves on 49 shots, and this was far from a case of just turning away long shots that were thrown haphazardly on goal. Harding had to be spectacular, especially in a nail-biting overtime, and he was.

Even better was the fact that this masterful performance came two days after Harding was pulled in Chicago. Harding was hard on himself with his quotes following that game, but Head Coach Mike Yeo played a hunch. Rather than giving rookie Matt Hackett his second career start, Yeo went right back to Harding who was the hard luck loser in a brilliant performance.

“If we keep having efforts like that, we’ll be giving ourselves a good chance,” said Head Coach Mike Yeo.

It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what type of hockey game this was, other than to say the officiating was…um…suspect. A slew of questionable calls seemed to take the rhythm out of the game, which at full strength, was pretty back and forth. But the teams combined for 66 penalty minutes and 12 power plays, and that seemed to disrupt a lot of flow. It also tipped the ice toward the Wild end for nearly all of the third period.

The one thing the calls didn’t do was soothe any ill feelings between these two clubs. We’ve seen already that there is a serious dislike between the players on the ice in these matchups, and tonight was no different. But that’s okay. In the Wild’s most recent wins against Edmonton and San Jose, the team was ornery and physical and wasn’t backing down from roughhousing. Tonight was the same deal, except the Wild couldn’t pull out the victory.

Still, Yeo has to be pleased with the way his team battled tonight against a very good Blues team.

Mikko Koivu left this game early on after taking a hit from Vladimir Sobotka in the St. Louis end. Koivu went right to the locker room, and it was announced that he suffered an upper body injury. That’s obviously very bad news, although right now, the severity of the injury is not yet known.

The good news is that the Wild still fought hard without the captain, and had a chance to win this one. Still, let’s hope that Koivu will be just fine.

I mentioned the officiating was a little iffy, but I hate blaming officiating for any result in a game. There are too many things that happen over the course of play that affect the outcome more than some calls.

However, I do have an issue with calls that don’t make any sense. The most mind-boggling came in the second period. Ryan Reaves hammered Warren Peters with a huge hit in the corner. So, Brad Staubitz challenged Reaves to a fight, and Reaves obliged. Staubitz did not jump Reaves and start throwing punches. In fact, the two danced around for a bit before engaging in a big-time bout.

For whatever reason, Staubitz was tagged with an extra to minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. I’m not sure what he could have done differently, but it was laughable to see that call.

Sure enough, the Blues only power play conversion came on that ensuing man advantage. Again, that wasn’t why the Wild lost. But it is something that leaves you scratching your head.

Let’s talk a little bit about the two Wild goals, shall we? Congratulations to David McIntyre, who bagged his first-ever NHL goal tonight. McIntyre opened the scoring by finishing off a play by none other than Mike Lundin, who had missed eight of the last nine games as a healthy scratch.

The second goal came from a slap shot by Jared Spurgeon on a second period power play. It snapped a string of 21 consecutive power plays without a goal for the Wild. It also was the first goal for a Wild defenseman since Marco Scandella scored against Los Angeles on December 8.
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