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 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks:
Just over three minutes into today’s game against the San Jose Sharks, the Wild was trailing by two goals. The trade deadline was less than 24 hours away, and Wild fans (and maybe even Chuck Fletcher) were thinking about unloading veterans to bolster the future of the organization. As for the future of this season, it looked bleak, what with the Dallas Stars rallying to win in overtime today.
But after those two goals, the Wild played one of its most inspired games of the season, chipping away at the Sharks lead and refusing to quit. And they did it by getting shots to the net and converting those ugly, greasy goals that we love so much. Cal Clutterbuck
and Nick Schultz scored goals to even the score by the 1:43 mark of the second period. Even after the Sharks regained the lead in the third, the Wild banded together and kept coming with shots from everywhere. Matt Cullen
tied the game with a tip of a Marco Scandella
shot. And then Jed Ortmeyer
tipped in a Jared Spurgeon
blast for his first goal since he was a San Jose Shark.
“I knew we were getting a guy in the trade that would shoot the puck,” joked Mike Yeo referring to Kurtis Foster
. “I didn’t know it would make everybody shoot the puck.”
I don’t know if you can evaluate a trade after one game. Of course, I would have said the Marek Zidlicky trade that brought three NHL players and one (possibly two) draft picks was a win before today’s game even started.
But I loved the performances of all three Wild acquisitions, particularly that of Nick Palmieri
. I was thrilled with the way Stephane Veilleux
played, delivering hits and bringing a spark to the fourth line that looked the best it has all season. Foster looked very comfortable (other than getting cross checked in the face) in his first game back in Minnesota, registering a +1.
But Palmieri was the exact player we hoped we were getting when we looked at his size and stats coming from New Jersey. You want a player with his credentials to go to the net, and that’s exactly where he was all night. He had a nose for the puck and generated at least three scoring chances. It was his hustle and screen in front of the net that led to Cullen’s equalizer.
Again, it’s one game. But I loved what I saw from Palmieri. Clutterbuck’s goal
that brought some life to a deflated crowd early in the game was somehow ugly and pretty at the same time. It was pretty because he took the puck from the side of his own net, went all the way down the entire length of the ice on the right side, dodging Sharks on the way. He finally got himself down deep in the San Jose end (and this is where the ugly part comes in) fired a bad angle shot that glanced off Colin White and skipped past Thomas Greiss.
We won’t call it a snipe, but will call it a beautiful rush that couldn’t have come at a better time. With the Wild getting thumped early on, it was the needed spark to shift the momentum of the game.
I know the NHL is trying. I know this. They want to get rid of unnecessary shots to the head, as well as dirty plays that can only hurt the game, not help it. But if you don’t send messages to the players during play, it’s going to be hard to come up with harsh discipline after the play.
In the first period, Patrick Marleau camped in front of Niklas Backstrom
and took a relatively harmless shove to the midsection from Foster. Marleau turned around and delivered a deliberate and forceful crosscheck to Foster’s neck and face area. It was as bad a play as you’ll see, but the result was just as bad.
The refs gave Marleau just two minutes for highsticking, presumably because Foster wasn’t bleeding profusely from every orifice in his face.
You just can’t have plays like that, but if no action is taken, even though Marleau is an upper echelon player, they’re going to keep happening.
Shortly after Schultz tied the game at 2-2 and got the Xcel Energy Center crowd buzzing, the building fell eerily silent. Everyone’s attention was focused on the Sharks bench, where players and staff members were huddled around. After a few minutes of uncertainty, Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan was helped to his feet and he walked back to the locker room.
Thankfully, word came down that he was hit in the head by an errant stick as play was going on. The word from San Jose is that he was alert and responsive and watching the rest of the game from the locker room.
A scene like that is the last thing you want to see at a sporting event, as Gopher football fans know all too well. Thankfully, it appears that this won’t be an issue going forward.