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 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers.
Tonight’s Minnesota Wild win over the Edmonton Oilers showed the luxury that we have of having Niklas Backstrom
as our hometown starting goaltender. There was speculation that he was out of sorts after last week’s fire that burned all of his equipment. Consecutive starts giving up four goals fed into that speculation, and it was thought that Head Coach Todd Richards might go with Josh Harding
to start tonight. Richards made the call this morning that Backstrom would be back in there, and it turned out to be a smart move.
In a 30-save effort, Backstrom was brilliant. He was calm and cool throughout, and never out of position. In the third period, the Oilers had a few odd-man rushes and offensive flurries, and it was obvious that Backstrom was not going to let the Oilers get that tying goal. Deservedly, Backstrom was named the game’s first star. As will be discussed later, the Wild has won the last 11 home games against the Oil, and Backstrom has won all of them. His numbers during that stretch? 11-0-0, 1.08 GAA and .958 SV %.
The Wild and Oilers have had their share of run-ins over the years, but this one was up there in the chippiness category. There were two legitimate fights, but there was plenty of extracurricular activity after the whistles, especially in the second and third. When Martin Havlat and pipsqueak Robert Nilsson start facing off after a whistle, things are definitely escalating.Clayton Stoner
fought for the second straight game and destroyed Ryan Stone in what should be the title bout for WWE (Stone vs. Stoner, only on PAY PER VIEW!!!!). Owen Nolan also dropped the gloves with Sheldon Souray. Nolan looked a little tentative in this bout, as he was probably weary of Souray landing a few forearm shivers with a heavy brace on his wrist. Of course, Sheldon seems like a standup guy, and I don’t think he would ever think to do something as dirty as that
|Move over Jarkko, there's a new twit we have to deal with. |
Then there’s Steve Staios, who is climbing the ladder of most hated Wild opponents, right up there with Matt Cooke, Jarkko Ruutu, Alex Burrows, Brad May and Ian Laperriere. Staios had it out with Marian Gaborik at every opportunity, but Gabby’s departure from the Wild didn’t seem to diffuse Staios’ hatred for all things green and red. Tonight, he picked on another enforcer in the form of 5’9” Andrew Ebbett. In the third, Ebbett was face down on the ice with Staios standing over him, and the play not even close to the two of them. Staios delivered a hard cross check right to Ebbett’s back as the Wild center tried to get up.
The Edmonton Oilers are always welcome to the Xcel Energy Center for the holidays, or any other time really. The Wild has now won 11 straight meetings against the Oilers at the Xcel Energy Center, and has outscored them 38-12. The Wild trailed just once in those 11 games. The Wild kept Edmonton off the board on three power plays, making them 3-for-48 on the power play over the last 11 games in St. Paul. Guillaume Latendresse
picked up a meaningless empty net goal with four seconds to play, but he deserved to be rewarded. Latendresse, Andrew Ebbett and Martin Havlat were buzzing all night long. Two of those three (G-Lat and Havlat) were recently ill, and Ebbett was recently concussed. They didn’t seem to be affected in the first, as they were the only Wild line that was continually creating chances. The rest of the team joined them in the second and third, but this trio set the tone for a great start to the Holidays.
Merry Christmas everyone!