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 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
To borrow a lyric from Uncle Kracker, tonight’s 2-1 Minnesota Wild win over the Philadelphia Flyers was a “flower poking through the sidewalk crack.” The Wild’s top two goaltenders were in street clothes, and the Wild is desperate for every available point on this five-game homestand.
Then, Anton Khudobin comes along and “makes us smile,” in more ways than one. His brilliance, along with goals by Cal Clutterbuck
and Owen Nolan, gave the Wild its 19th win in its 32nd one-goal game.
“Our goaltender was great tonight,” said Todd Richards. “He was the difference in the game.”
While Khudobin may be one of the funniest quotes in the Wild locker room (when asked about his weight today by a reporter, he came back with, “I wish I were taller.), I have to admit I was a little nervous about him getting his first NHL start in an uber-important game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
And if you told me that Khudobin would allow just one goal while tying the Wild’s season-high for saves in a game with 38 (Josh Harding
stopped 38 in a loss to Washington in November), I would have taken my leather gloves and slapped you across the face not once, but twice!
Khudobin was fantastic, and he was rightfully named the star of the game, and you know you’re in Minnesota when the crowd recognizes what it just witnessed: a rookie goalie getting an improbable win against a tough team. That raucous standing ovation he received will remain in his medulla oblongata for the rest of his life.
Any chance they get, Richards and General Manager Chuck Fletcher rave about the grit and leadership that Owen Nolan brings to his team. Today, Nolan, along with Kim Johnsson, had the Alternate Captain’s “A” added to his jersey for the remainder of the season and he responded with one of his best all-around performances of the year.
Though he wasn’t credited with an assist, and he technically only got a two-minute roughing minor when he dropped the gloves with the horrendously mulleted Scott Hartnell, Nolan earned a pseudo Gordie Howe hat trick. It was his hustle that caused Philly keeper Michael Leighton to lose the puck behind the net, which led to a loose disc out front that Cal Clutterbuck
converted for his 11th of the year. Nolan then picked up the game-winner by driving to the net after dishing off to Eric Belanger, and he muscled in the rebound. Aside from those plays, Nolan was doing it all, and he could have walked away with more points if not for some spectacular saves by Leighton.
How many times did we talk about the “scoring-first” stat in the past? It wasn’t so much of a concern, because the Wild was finding ways to win a lot of games, despite giving up the early lead. But this new trend the Wild has going is a little more enjoyable. After giving up the first goal in 24 of 32 games, the Wild has scored first in six of the last seven, including tonight. Granted, that lead was erased in 16 seconds by Daniel Carcillo, but I do declare that being tied, 1-1 is better than having to come back from down 1-0.
The Wild has now earned at least one point in nine straight games at Xcel Energy Center (8-0-1), its longest such streak since going 6-0-4 to end the 2008-2009 season. The Wild has won four in a row at home for the second time since early January. The club is now 20-6-2 at home this season and 26-6-6 in its last 38 games in St. Paul, dating back to February 19, 2009.