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 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
Comeback wins are a lot of fun, but I’m rather enjoying this mini-trend of the Minnesota Wild comfortably running away with games in the third period. After the Wild and Red Wings started off the game by Antti Miettinen and Pavel Datsyuk trading goals like they were on the stock market floor, the Wild made this one look easy. Andrew Ebbett’s game-winner at the end of the first held up as the Wild played a solid defensive game in the second, and then put things away with goals by Guillaume Latendresse
and Martin Havlat.
If you’re keeping track, that’s two comfortable wins in a row after the Wild pounded the Columbus Blue Jackets with four goals before giving up two meaningless markers at the end of the game. More importantly, Minnesota came away with five out of a possible six points in this three-game homestand. It could have finished the night seven points behind Detroit in the standings. Instead, the Wild has moved within three of the Wings.
It was a big night for Miettinen, who recorded his third two-goal game in his last seven contests. Miettinen now has 15 on the season, which ties his career-highs that he hit in each of the last two seasons. You have to wonder how many Mittens would have were it not for a stretch of about two weeks in December when he rang about 40 shots off the post, or was robbed by goalies making saves with loose skate laces.
Miettinen owes Andrew Brunette a pillow on tonight’s flight to Denver after the team comedian set him up beautifully on both goals. In keeping with his humor, it was almost comical in the third as Bruno tried repeatedly to get number 20 his first career hat trick.
The Wild could use a few more three-day breaks if that’s the reason for its power play success tonight. Most of Tuesday’s practice was spent on special teams, and it seemed to show tonight. The passes were tape-to-tape, and both of the goals power play goals scored by Miettinen and Havlat were shot into gaping nets after beautiful set-up passes. Minnesota finished the night 2-for-6, making it the second time since December 5 that it notched two power play markers.
When you get into the middle of January, sometimes those of us who cover the team look for any kind of breaking news, when really, there isn’t much. That’s what made today’s “Who’s starting in goal controversy” so amusing. Between myself and PR gurus Ryan Stanzel, Aaron Sickman and Carly Peters, there must have been 30 emails going back and forth about hints regarding tonight’s starter. Harding didn’t talk to the media, which is his policy on game-days. He must be starting. But Backstrom took shots from the defensemen at today’s morning skate, so he must be starting. But Harding left the morning skate first, so he must be starting. But Todd Richards said he didn’t now, so maybe it’s Backstrom.
When all was said and done, it was Harding who made 26 saves and won a home start for the first time since January 13, 2008. Each of Harding’s last three Xcel Energy Center starts have come against the Wings.
Because I’m an animal lover, I’m going to close out tonight’s “Five Takeaways” talking about TC the Bull, who greeted fans inside Gate One at Xcel Energy Center tonight. The gentle giant, who weighs more than 1,000 pounds, was letting people pet him, and he even tried to snatch an apple out of a kid’s hand, gently of course. He is the Goodwill Ambassador for the World’s Toughest Rodeo, which is coming to the arena starting Friday.
Apparently, both of TC the Bull’s parents are ferocious competitors, and he is so docile, that other bulls pick on him, so he prefers the company of people. That’s fine by me. I got to pet the friendly giant on the head, and I’m sure he appreciated it. And we appreciate the good luck he brought our boys in red.