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 5-4 shootout win over the San Jose Sharks:
At his morning skate media scrum this morning, Head Coach Mike Yeo said he couldn’t promise a Wild victory against the San Jose Sharks later in the night. He said he wanted to see his team go “all in with their best game, their best effort.”
The Wild did pull out a 5-4 shootout win, and it would be tough to argue that the collection of players in red jerseys did not give their best effort. Much like they did in their most recent win on December 29, the Wild got mean again. They started fighting for loose pucks, and if someone got in the way, they more often than not got a red and green hockey glove in their face.
There were a couple of dirty goals for the Wild. There were a couple (or more than a couple) spectacular saves provided by Josh Harding
. And despite losing a 4-2 lead late in the third, the Wild players stayed positive and ended their three-game losing skid.
“We don’t do things the easy way around here,” joked Yeo after the game. “I think you could see the fight that we had right from the start of the game…That was the team that we were three weeks ago.”Matt Cullen
skated in his 1,000th NHL game tonight, becoming the first Minnesotan to accomplish the feat while wearing a Wild sweater. It was nice that he got to do it in a home game, but even better was the fact that he had a monster game, and was arguably the Wild’s best player tonight.
Without Pierre-Marc Bouchard
and Guillaume Latendresse
(both out indefinitely with concussions) on his wings, Cullen took it upon himself to drive the net and make things happen. He rang one off the post earlier in the game, but he continued to skate.
With the Wild up 3-2, Cullen picked up a loose puck at center ice, bulldozed his way to the net with it and then fell to the ice as Casey Wellman punched the rebound in off Cullen’s leg.
To cap off the night, Cullen led off the shootout with a shot that Antti Niemi appeared to stop, but somehow the puck kept rolling and made it over the goal line.
Cullen will be honored at the Wild’s next home game, which will be on January 21st, which is also fittingly Hockey Day Minnesota.
The amazing stories that have surfaced since the horrific injury sustained by Benilde-St. Margaret’s hockey player, Jack Jablonski keep coming. And this time, a Wild player had a hand in the feel good story.
Yesterday, three Wild players – Cal Clutterbuck
, Dany Heatley
and Devin Setoguchi
– went to visit Jack in his hospital room. While there, Jack’s younger brother, Max, was chatting them up and mentioned that Tampa Bay Lightning sniper and NHL leading scorer Steven Stamkos had called Jack and promised to score a goal.
The three Wild players kind of joked around with Max about the promise, but as he was walking out, Clutterbuck told Jack that he’s also try to score a goal for him. Apparently, he didn’t want to waste any time in doing so. Just seven minutes in, Clutterbuck weaved through two Sharks to get in alone on Antti Niemi and then tucked one in on the far side.
After the celebration, Clutterbuck grabbed the puck to give to the Jablonski family. He won’t have to look far. Max was at the game and on the ice tonight as the honorary flag bearer, wearing his brother’s #13 jersey.
If one stat sums up how depleted the Wild lineup has been, it could be this: six of Minnesota’s 12 points (goals and assists) came from players who were not on the Wild’s opening night roster. With Bouchard, Latendresse and Devin Setoguchi
(out of the lineup for violation of team rules) out of the lineup, the Wild needed some contributions from some unusual suspects. Warren Peters
netted his first goal of the season. David McIntyre
picked up his first NHL point with an assist. Wellman notched two assists, as did Justin Falk
. Nick Johnson
, playing on the top line in Setoguchi’s absence, scored his first goal in 16 games.
The Wild will continue to need that secondary production. We don’t know when Bouchard and Latendresse will come back, but we do know if guys can battle like they did tonight, the Wild will be just fine.
Tonight also marked Brent Burns’ first game inside Xcel Energy Center with a different color jersey on. He received a nice ovation from the crowd when he was announced as part of San Jose’s starting lineup. He also had a strong game for the Sharks, seeing 24:41 of ice time, notching an assist and finishing the night a +1.