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 win over the Calgary Flames.
The Minnesota Wild is in a brutal stretch of opponents to open 2010 and tonight’s game looked like the toughest of all. The Calgary Flames came in to Xcel Energy Center having won five straight by not giving up more than one goal in any of them. The Wild hasn’t made a win look easy all year, until tonight.
After giving up a goal 94 seconds in, the Wild took over and scored four unanswered goals and dominated the rest of the way. The Flames have typically been the Wild’s toughest opponent since the club’s inception, but in two games this season, the Wild has dominated for more than 120 minutes.
Tonight, the Wild looked like a desperate team, and it got a total team effort to roll the Flames in this one.
The Wild owns Jarome Iginla, eh? Okay, that might be a stretch, but the guy who basically has made the Wild his own personal doormat in past seasons has now gone cold against the Flying W’s. It may or may not be true bars in Minnesota were starting to put up those countdown clocks to the day that Iginla turns 65 so he can finally retire and stop tormenting State of Hockey faithful.
The all-time leader in goals (27) and points (49) against the Wild was held without a goal for the ninth straight meeting, and he only has three assists in those nine games. Iginla really wasn’t even noticeable tonight, but let’s not get cocky. The guy is one of the best in the game, and he’ll likely get at least one more goal against the Wild before his career is done.
It’s happened many times this season, and it happened again tonight. The guys who are buzzing around the most in red sweaters eventually get goals, and Eric Belanger, Kyle Brodziak
and Cal Clutterbuck
were indeed all over the place tonight.
On the first shift, Clutter drilled Dion Phaneuf with a hit. He later scored. Kyle Brodziak
absorbed a big hit from Mark Giordano, and then later in the shift, he laid out Giordano and then scored his first goal in 29 games just seconds later. Belanger also smoked Cory Sarich in the corner after he had already scored one goal, and he added another on a beautiful finish off an Owen Nolan feed. Belanger is more known as a finesse player, but he brought a physical element tonight, and he looked like one of the fastest players on the ice.
The other trend that resurfaced tonight was Niklas Backstrom
’s uncanny ability to shake off the early goal. Backstrom gave up a huge rebound on Calgary’s first shot, and Olli Jokinen had an easy time putting it away. From there, the door was shut. Backstrom didn’t have to come up big too often, but whenever the Flames threatened to close the gab, the Wild keeper was up to the task.
And while we’re on the subject of keepers, Miikka Kiprusoff is just plain ridiculous. Sure, he gave up four goals, but the way the Wild played, this game could have been 8-1. Kiprusoff made almost all of the saves he should have made, and he made another that would surely hit #1 on ESPN’s top plays if ESPN had people that recorded hockey games.
After a rebound popped to the skates of Guillaume Latendresse
in the right circle, all he had to do was gather the puck and fire it up high with Kiprusoff sitting on his rump and giving up an entire side of the net. G-Lat did just that and his shot was about to skim under the crossbar when Kipper reached up and snared it. Latendresse had his arms raised for the goal, but that pose was quickly replaced by slumped shoulders and a bewildered smile.