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 2-0 win over the Boston Bruins: Niklas Backstrom
As far as goaltending performances in Minnesota Wild regular season history, this has to be up there among the best. Backstrom’s brilliance was enough to diffuse a struggling and angry Boston Bruins team.
His career-high 48-save performance in a 2-0 shutout victory in front of a packed house and national television audience was the perfect way to snap a seven-game losing skid, and provide a bit of hope heading into the final 23 games of the season.
Obviously, when a goalie has 48 saves, he’s solid from start to finish, but Backstrom was making difficult saves for 60 minutes. He’d make the first save, and if there was a rebound, he recovered so quickly and made that save. He came up with stops on breakaways as well. And in the third, he came up with a highlight reel glove save
that left Milan Lucic slamming his stick in disgust.
“For him to look like that and make those saves early in the game gives us a lot of confidence the rest of the way,” said Head Coach Mike Yeo.
The afternoon belonged to Backstrom, but he’s going to have to share the spotlight with today’s goal scorers, simply because of where they were born.
Eden Prairie native Chad Rau
, who was called up today to replace Warren Peters
, who was suspended by the NHL for one game due to an incident in yesterday’s game, opened the scoring. Skating up the left side, he looked like he would make a pass into the slot before sniping a shot
past Tim Thomas, who couldn’t have been more surprised than if President Obama showed up at his front door.
That’s Rau’s second career NHL goal. His first came on Hockey Day Minnesota, and this one comes on Hockey Day in America. Yeo should make sure he’s in the lineup for Hockey Day in North America, Hockey Day in the Western Hemisphere and Hockey Day Universe.
The other goal scorer was Moorhead’s Matt Cullen
, who had been searching for a goal the last 16 games. He may have found the secret. He needs to fan on his first shot from now on, because that was enough to get Thomas to commit. That left a big opening for Cullen to fire one into the gaping net and get that monkey off his back.
Despite his long slump, Cullen has equaled his total of 12 goals from last year and looks primed to easily surpass that. He was very good tonight, playing 19:51 and winning 11 of 18 faceoffs.
We all saw how tough this Boston team was during their run to the Stanley Cup last year, and things haven’t changed much. Their guys are beasts out there. Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic look like if they played full-contact Pom Pom Pullaway, they would leave a wake of withered bodies littering their paths to the other side.
But Wild players didn’t back down from these beasts. Agitator Brad Marchand was pretty invisible. And Matt Kassian
was willing to brawl with Shawn Thornton, who is one scary dude. And it was quite a duel
that ended with Thornton bloodied.
If there was a game to spark a run and get these Wild players back to fighting for one another, this was it. The only problem is we have to wait until Thursday to see if it carries over.
I’ll go on record as saying that Doc Emrick is far and away my third favorite play-by-play voice in any sport (behind only Dan Terhaar and Bob Kurtz, obviously). So I’m willing to give the Doc a pass on his minor flub of the “Let’s Play Hockey” declaration prior to today’s opening faceoff.
Instead of “Let’s Play Hockey,” Emrick shouted “Let’s Go Play Hockey” and threw off the rhythm of the fans. Emrick apparently profusely apologized on air and also expressed his apology to members of the media.
Let’s face it, Emrick is the man, and we’ll let this one slide. I mean, we’ve lived through Adrian Peterson’s butchering of it, and our former Governor dropping the F-bomb, so we can certainly forgive this one.