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 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers:
Prior to tonight, I wasn’t shedding any tears about tonight’s game being the last Divisional matchup between the Minnesota Wild and the Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton is far away. There was never that much of an intense rivalry. The Wild owned most of the all-time series.
After tonight’s 4-3 Wild win that snapped Minnesota’s eight-game winless skid, I wouldn’t care if these two teams faced off six more times this year. Or 16 more times.
This was as entertaining as a game can get. The coaches probably hated it. The fans could not get enough. Anytime an enforcer that was called up earlier in the day is awarded the number one star, you know this wasn’t an average NHL game in December.
“That was fun wasn’t it?” asked Mike Yeo. “That was ice hockey…A lot of intensity out there today.”
If you ever have an interaction with Yeo, you’ll walk away thinking, “He’s a really nice guy.” If you have the chance to meet a room full of Wild players, you leave thinking, “They’re a bunch of really nice guys.”
Wild players don’t get suspended, with the obvious exception of our top goon, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
. Of course, none of the Wild’s opponents get suspended either, regardless of how dangerous the hits they laid out were.
The Minnesota Nice had to change. It certainly did tonight. The Wild played with an edge. They were nasty. They had to be tired of seeing their skilled players getting sent headfirst into the boards. They didn’t run anyone from behind or headhunt, but they played an in-your-face brand of hockey.
But it wasn’t just Matt Kassian
, who destroyed Darcy Hordichuk in two one-sided bouts (Here's the first one
). Cal Clutterbuck
smoked Ryan Smyth. Nate Prosser
went after Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and then jawed back and forth with Taylor Hall. Hell, even Nik Backstrom pulled Ryan Jones down by the face, and then traded jabs at the buzzer with Smyth. Yes, that
I don’t think we’ll see the Wild driving into any NHL towns with a battered bus that looks “meaner,” but we might be seeing a new team that is willing to make that extra shove or punch to send a message.
Here we are down at number 3, and we haven’t gotten to the goals yet. Let’s use this space to tackle each one, because all four were special.
Mikko Koivu’s first period goal
erased an early deficit and set the tone for this raucous game to get off the ground and roaring. It was Koivu’s ninth of the year, and it was a beauty as he cut across the slot and then sent a wicked wrist shot inside the far post.
That was followed by Jarod Palmer’s first NHL goal,
and this one wasn’t a deflection off a skate or a garbage rebound. Palmer took advantage of a great pass by Kyle Brodziak
in the neutral zone and then led a two-on-one. Palmer was coming close to getting that first one many times since his callup. He didn’t miss this time as he roofed a shot over the glove of Nikolai Khabibulin, and became the seventh Minnesotan to score a goal for his home state team.
Oiler killer Bouchard followed up just 19 seconds later as he found yet another way to beat Khabibulin
. Like Palmer, he led a two-on-one and took the shot. You knew in the last meeting of the year, Bouchard had one more goal against the Oilers.
And finally, it’s Dany Heatley
once again coming up with a goal in a crucial moment
. The Oilers had finally found a way to silence a raucous crowd in the second period by trimming the lead to 3-2. Heatley, who just has that knack of bagging the big one, answered 46 seconds later and took the team lead with 12.
Theo Peckham is one big guy. He’s also nasty and borderline dirty at times. I’m sure he’s a guy you love if he’s on your team, and hate if he’s not. He’s not on our team, which is why seeing him get blasted into his own bench while taking a flying leap to try and destroy Brad Staubitz
was pure deliciousness.
This might go down as one of the best hits in Wild history. Yes, knocking an opposing player into the bench is always sweet, but to do it when that player is the one trying to lay the big hit is even better. Staubitz earned a roughing penalty – as did Peckham for charging - presumably because he leaned over the bench to share some words with Peckham. I don’t care. When you do that to a player, the only option you have is to let them hear about it.
Another head scratcher to ponder as we close this fun night out: If you get crosschecked up high, wouldn’t it be natural to fall backwards onto the ice? I would think so, but I’ve never been crosschecked by an NHLer like Colten Teubert. Clutterbuck has, and wouldn’t you know, he fell backward onto the ice.
Teubert was called for the crosscheck, and Clutterbuck was called for diving. Really? Now, I’ve seen Alex Burrows pretend he was shot in the head with a bullet when getting shoved up high. But this was not an embellishment. And if it was, don’t call the crosscheck on the other guy.