Following Wild games, Managing Editor Glen Andresen will give the five takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Tonight, we look back at a 4-3 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Did the Wild not get two points from that game? This was one of those games where you didn’t expect anything to go wrong. Despite a two-goal lead – the most dangerous lead in hockey – everything felt quite comfortable. The Wild was thoroughly dominating the Tampa Bay Lightning in every phase of the game: offense, defense, special teams, energy, physical play and sure, I’ll say it, good looks. But thanks to two flukey plays – Shane Hnidy getting his legs twisted behind his own net (should have been a penalty), and Kyle Brodziak
losing a puck on a three-on-one – Tampa Bay cut the third period lead to one. Still, the Wild didn’t show any signs of sitting back with a one-goal lead, and they actually controlled play the final five minutes. Even a Marek Zidlicky penalty didn’t seem to put the Wild back on its heels, but with 14 seconds to play, one little opening turned into a tying goal for former St. Cloud State Husky, Ryan Malone.
Bottom line is the Wild gets a point on the road, played a solid game, and got great contributions from guys who haven’t figured in on a lot of goals this season.
The Wild’s fourth line could have been confused with a top line tonight. James Sheppard, Benoit Pouliot and Derek Boogaard played their best game as a unit. Sheppard dazzled with his move to set up Pouliot on the first goal. Pouliot had speed with and without the puck. And Boogaard not only did what he usually does by hitting hard and making opposing defensemen nervous, but he also threatened to score on a variety of chances. That long-awaited goal is coming before Thanksgiving. Call your bookie.
The other benefit, other than these guys finding their games, is that Head Coach Todd Richards was able to roll four lines and keep most guys reasonably rested heading into the second of back-to-backs with Washington.
If you throw out the 70-degree weather and the sparse crowd, you might have thought you were at a Wild home game for this one. There was “Let’s Play Hockey,” a flag bearer, a #1 jersey hanging (for troops, not for fans) and Lightning stars of the game flipping autographed pucks into the crowd. I felt like I’d seen some of these things before…
Owen Nolan showed in one game why he has notched over 400 goals and “earned” over 1,700 penalty minutes in his career. In the second, “Cowboy” showed the wheels of his days of a Nordique, splitting the middle, diving right and firing a shot into the back of the cage while getting checked to the ice by David Hale for one of the greater goals you will see all season. At the exact moment that the puck was intersecting with the mesh, Nolan’s body could have been confused for a guy “doing the worm” across the floor. In the third, Zenon Konopka got a little punchy in the crease and Nolan introduced him to his knuckles, attempting to move Konopka’s ear over to the spot where his nose is located, basically giving him the old “Mister Potato Head” treatment.
The following didn’t happen during the game, but it did happen in Tampa and is worth mentioning because I laugh whenever I think about it. Following the win in Toronto, we arrived at our Tampa hotel pushing 4:00 in the AM. My room happened to be next door to Wild radio announcer Bob Kurtz, and we each got to our respective doors at the same time. My key seemed worked beautifully, and Kurtz was getting the green light, but he wasn’t getting in. I was already cozy in my PJ’s when I could still hear the man with the golden pipes lowering the boom on his hotel room door.
If you’ve never had the privilege of listening to a 35-year broadcasting veteran lose his mind over a jammed door while laying in the comfort of your own bed, then brother, you haven’t lived a full life.