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 Pittsburgh Penguins.
Calgary. Chicago. Pittsburgh. Two of those teams have a great chance to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals this June. One of those teams won the Cup last June. Here are some of the names on those rosters: Kiprusoff, Iginla, Phaneuf, Kane, Toews, Keith, Hossa, Crosby, Malkin and Fleury. All of them were expected to give the Wild zero points. Instead, the Wild stole six.
This Minnesota Wild team is not your average 11th place team. They just get the job done, as they did in a 4-3 win tonight. It was another total team effort, but once again, a few guys stood out. I’m talking to you Guillaume Latendresse
, Niklas Backstrom
, Cal Clutterbuck
, Eric Belanger and Martin Havlat.
What a night for Guillaume Latendresse
. After scoring the biggest goal of the season on Saturday against Chicago, he followed up with a career-high four-point night. Latendresse assisted on the first three goals and then buried the game-winner in the third period.
Every time there was a scoring chance, Latendresse seemed to be involved. And when the deal was made, the Wild was hoping to get a big guy, who could battle in the corners and finish around the net. They are getting that, but this guy has got some speed once he gets rolling. There was one play where he raced up the left side and completely walked Kris Letang before losing the puck off his stick.
Just to pound the point home of how well this guy is playing, here are some more stats courtesy of Wild stat guru Ryan Stanzel: Four goals, four assists for eight points during his career-high-tying four-game point streak. He has 15 points (10-5=15) in 21 games since coming over to Minnesota. The Wild is 15-6-0 since he joined the team, and 8-1-0 when he records a point.
You could have predicted Backstrom was going to have a huge night. He is now 10-0-1 in games after being pulled, and his 113th win, which ties Manny Fernandez for the franchise record, might have been his best. He was credited with 35 saves, but I’m betting there were at least five more in there. During a second period five-on-three, the Penguins were said to have put two shots on goal, but it appeared to be a lot more than that.
The Wild penalty kill was outstanding in shutting Pittsburgh down on all six opportunities, and Backstrom was a huge factor in that. He also pulled out a great one-liner during post-game interviews. While he was being asked a question, the lights in the locker room went out. Backstrom immediately responded with a “What is this, New Jersey?”
It’s almost comical how angry teams get at a player hitting them with clean checks. What wasn’t funny was the way Sergei Gonchar responded to a textbook check along the boards by Clutterbuck (who by the way scored another goal). Midway through the third, Clutter drilled Gonchar along the boards. Gonchar immediately started yapping at him, and then responded later in the play.
Clutterbuck wasn’t looking when Gonchar ran him from behind with a vicious shot to the head that cut his nose. Gonchar took a five-minute major, and should get a suspension due to the clear shot he took at the head.
After the game, Clutterbuck said, “I’m not even looking, I don’t even know he’s coming and he can’t even hurt me. He better hope he retires at the end of the year, I can tell you that. Someone is going to hurt him. It’s not going to be me, but someone will.” You can see his entire interview here
For every sea lamprey in the ocean, there is a friendly dolphin. So let’s end the Five Takeaways with a nice story that led off tonight’s game. Dr. Evan Domeyer and John Dow kicked off tonight’s game with the Let’s Play Hockey declaration
. Their story is a special one.
Three months ago, Dow was playing a recreation league hockey game at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine when he fell to the ice and had a heart attack. Domeyer was putting his equipment on at an adjacent rink when someone came in looking for a doctor. Domeyer ran over to the rink and performed CPR and saved Dow’s life. Three months later, the two are doing Let’s Play Hockey together, and Dow is back to playing hockey again.
We will have much more on this wonderful story in the coming days as Hockey Day Minnesota draws near on January 23. Stay tuned to wild.com/hockeyday.