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Glen Andresen's Five Takeaways vs. Colorado

by Glen Andresen / Minnesota Wild

Wild GameDay

at Ottawa: December 19

vs. Columbus: December 15

at Vancouver: December 12

at Calgary: December 11

at Colorado: December 9

at Phoenix: December 7

at Nashville: December  5

vs. Anaheim: December 4

vs. Nashville: December 2

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 4-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

This one was a strange one. Strange goals. Strange calls. Strange decisions. Strange.
The strange benefitted the Colorado Avalanche on this night in a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild. It was the first win in five tries this season for Colorado against Minnesota. It was just the second regulation win in the last 16 regular season meetings for the Avs.

Once again, the Wild showed that a deficit is nothing to panic about, but three-goal leads aren’t to be trifled with often. Trailing 4-1 in the third, the Wild mounted a furious rally with shots from all over the place, but they couldn’t find the equalizer, and have suddenly dropped two straight in regulation. 

There’s no doubt that the biggest play came on the Avs’ game-winning goal in the second period. Cal Clutterbuck had just put the Wild on the board with a shortie, and the Wild was on the power play with a chance to cut the deficit to one. From the neutral zone, Matt Hendricks sent the puck into the Wild zone. Apparently thinking the puck was going to be controlled by Niklas Backstrom, Marek Zidlicky and Antti Miettinen (playing the point on the power play) headed straight to the bench for a change after the puck was stolen from Marty Havlat. That was a problem. The puck was shot in much too hard for Backstrom to control and it bounced right out into the slot for Hendricks and Cody McLeod to go in on a two-on-oh. That’s never good, and even two guys with only eight goals between them can make a two-on-oh look easy. Hendricks, the former Blaine Bengal, finished off the play.

It definitely wasn’t a 60-minute effort from the collective Wild team, but it certainly was from Clutterbuck. Even before he scored the Wild’s first goal of the game on a shorthanded rush, Clutter was all over the place. He drilled Adam Foote in front of the penalty boxes, putting him down on the ice. I can’t imagine it’s easy to knock Foote over. He’s a beast.

But his best hit of the night, and maybe of the season, came on chronic rash, Cody McLeod. You remember McLeod of course. He’s the guy that’s most famous for being mocked by Stephane Veilleux for his lack of incisors. For a good laugh, please click here to enjoy. It’s at the end of the video.

Where was I? Oh yeah. McLeod tried to skate around the Wild net with the puck in the third period, and he couldn’t see Clutterbuck who was blocked by a linesman behind the net. As Dunder Mifflin’s Michael Scott would say, “Boom! Roasted!” Clutter destroyed him and sent him flying into the rear boards. McLeod certainly doesn’t like to be checked at all, due to him being a superstar in this League. So he promptly went after Clutter and took a penalty. Good times all around.

He also had a bit of luck. With the Wild only down 2-0 in the second, Andrew Brunette appeared to have a sure goal on the power play, but he missed his chance by putting a close range shot right off the elbow of the post/crossbar. 

The other guy that was thoroughly impressive tonight was Clayton Stoner, who was playing just his third NHL game. Two plays really stood out. First, Stoner made a home run pass to spring Havlat on a breakaway. Havlat finished it off to cut the lead to 4-3 and make a rally seem imminent. It nearly was, thanks to another great play by Stoner.

As he tried to hold the zone on a high clearing attempt, Stoner batted the puck toward the goal line with his hand. Eric Belanger was near it, but didn’t want to touch it because of a hand pass call. An Avs defender also didn’t touch it because he didn’t want to negate the call. So Stoner smartly kept going behind the net and picked up the puck to start another scoring opportunity for the Wild. Stoner also showed off his toughness by dropping the gloves in the second period against Chris Durno.  

This game had to be decided by one goal one way or another. Check out these stats: Nine of the last 10 contests between the Wild and Avs have been decided by one goal; The Wild has played in 23 one-goal games this season to lead all NHL clubs (13-7-3); Eight of the Wild’s last nine home games have been decided by one goal (5-2-1); 13 of the Wild’s 15 home games have been decided by one goal (9-3-1).
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