Following Wild games, Managing Editor Glen Andresen will give the five takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Tonight,he shares his five takeaways from a 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Islanders:
Even with five key forwards missing and another Houston Aero playing big minutes, the Wild is finding a way to pick up standings points and stay atop the NHL. Tonight, the Wild dealt with absences from Mikko Koivu
, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
and Casey Wellman, yet still found a way to hang tough long enough for Cal Clutterbuck
to even the score at 1-1 in the third period and force an eventual shootout.
For the second straight game, the Wild couldn’t find the net in the breakaway contest, and that may have something to do with Koivu and Bouchard unable to play. Frans Nielsen buried the only goal of the frame and sent the Wild to its second straight shootout loss.
“Last game was a shootout loss that felt like a win,” said Head Coach Mike Yeo. This one was a shootout loss that felt like a loss.”
The story before the game was Fridley native Jarod Palmer making his NHL debut. The story after the game was the performance of Palmer in his NHL debut. Palmer didn’t just look like he belonged. For much of the game, he looked like the best player on the ice in a green sweater. He led the team in shots with six and had several scoring chances, including one in overtime.
Palmer continued the trend of callups from Houston stepping right in and not missing a beat. He’s also continuing a trend of Minnesotans playing well for their hometown team. Matt Cullen and Mike Lundin are regulars that are proving their worth nightly. Nate Prosser and Jeff Taffe were both impressive in their time here, and Palmer was no different.
He also caps off the triumvirate of college free agent signings from 2010 getting into the Wild lineup. After not dipping into the college free agent pool for many years, Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher changed all that by jumping in with both feet. The team signed Casey Wellman and Prosser and both played later that spring. Palmer signed in the offseason and had to wait a little longer for his debut, but it was worth it.
“I thought he was great,” said Yeo. “You could argue that he was our best forward tonight.”
We’ve all seen that Clutterbuck has that swagger, and that’s why it never seems surprising when it’s number 22 that scores a big goal when its most needed. He came through again as the crowd was itching for that equalizer as time was ticking away in the third.
Off a rebound from a Dany Heatley
shot, Clutterbuck calmly gathered the loose puck at the side of the net and tucked it in as Islanders converged on him. He then let loose with what is becoming his signature celly, a one-knee multiple fist pump while sliding on the ice.
Including shootout losses, the Wild has dropped 13 games out of 33. The Islanders are the only team to have beaten Minnesota twice this season. The Red Wings, Canucks, Ducks, Sharks, Flames and Kings have all had the chance to do it at least twice and none were able to do it.
The Canucks will get another shot on Monday, but Yeo is looking forward to that. While disappointed in his team’s overall performance tonight, he noted that his team will have to be at its best in Vancouver and typically when he’s looking for that, he’s been getting it this year.
If you’re not in the media, thank your lucky stars. But you have been missing out on one thing. For the last several years, media members and everybody else who have been up in the Al Shaver Press Box have been greeted by Mike Doffing as they exit the elevator. That greeting is accompanied by a firm handshake and a “let’s have some fun.”
Prior to Mike, the legendary Lou Cotroneo, who retired two years ago, held that post. Few people could have replaced Lou, but Mike was one of them. He’s about as solid a guy as they come, and unfortunately for us in the press box, he’s moving on to bigger and better things in Louisville, Kentucky.
Thanks to Mike for brightening our days. Win or lose, it was always fun.