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What's up dudes and dudesses? That's California speak for "Hello. How are you State of Hockey legion?" Welcome to this special edition of live in-game commentary presented by Sun Country Airlines. Had you thought ahead and purchased a ticket from Sun Country, you might be here with me in sunny Anaheim, California rather than shoveling your driveway and scraping your car windows. Think ahead people.
We've got a big one on tap tonight folks as your favorite team that is sitting atop the Western Conference takes on the Anaheim Dorks, or Ducks as some refer to them. The Ducks are a desperate team right now and they've got a new coach that swears like a sailor who just slid crotch first into a goal post. But this team is easy to intimidate as long as you can get into their heads. Start telling them that Disney World is way better than Disneyland. Or tell them that the Real Housewives of Orange County can't hold an expensive candle to the classy ladies in New Jersey. You start saying things like that, and the Ducks will start taking penalties and will be completely disoriented the rest of the night.
The trash talk will only add to their frustrations after dealing with the goaltending of Josh Harding
all game long. "Hards" is getting the start tonight with Matt Hackett
as his backup due to Niklas Backstrom
being out with a minor groin injury. Harding is doing his thing right now in pregame warmups, and if you'll allow me to use a cliche, he looks "dialed in."Cal Clutterbuck
gets back into the lineup tonight, and I'm sure he'll use some of the chirping lines I mentioned above. His return means one forward will come out of the lineup, and that's going to be Colton Gillies. There will also be an extra defenseman tonight, and that will be Nate Prosser
As for attire, the Wild will break out the road whites for tonight and the foreseeable future. The Ducks are wearing their home blacks trimmed in white, copper and orange with "Ducks" written across the chest.
It's game time. Let's do this thing.Period 1
19:01 - First scoring chance goes to the good guys. An odd man rush results in Dany Heatley
getting the puck all alone down the slot. He has to reach back to catch the pass and then wheels around with a backhand that is thwarted by Jonas HIller.
14:59 - Matt Cullen
gains the Anaheim zone and takes a big hit up high from Francois Beauchemin. So far, we've got a good pace to this one. A lot of skating.14:03 - MIN 0 - ANA 1 - We've been here before so a one goal deficit is no big thing. The Ducks need just 15 seconds of a power play to get on the board. The ageless Teemu Selanne feathers a pass to the front of the net for Corey Perry, who redirects the puck to the other side of the net. Ryan Getzlaf is ready to pounce on that and he hammers it into an open net.
12:43 - The Wild comes right back with an offensive chance. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
puts a heavy wrister up high on Hiller, who can only knock it down. Cullen is there to rap at the rebound, but Hiller flashes the right leg out for a big time stop. 10:35 - MIN 0 - ANA 2 - Koivu scores, but it's the wrong one: Saku. Selanne has his first centering pass batted away, but right back to him. So he threads another one through three Wild players to Saku on the other side. He doesn't even get great wood on the shot, but he gets enough to put it into the yawning cage.
9:32 - We need a momentum shift in a big way, so Brad Staubitz answers the bell. He drops the gloves with Jean-Francois Jacques, who is playing his second game of the year. Jacques lands a few early jabs to knock Stauby off balance. They grapple a little more before Jacques throws one more big punch and they both go down.
6:31 - Devin Setoguchi
has a burst of speed up the left side and he's got Mikko Koivu
busting down the slot for a two-on-one. Seto tries to snipe one on the far side, but Hiller is able to get a blocker on it. The rebound comes right back to number 10, and he gets another whack, but it's not quite enough to get over the pad of Hiller, who keeps it just shy of the goal line.
1:51 - Four Wild players touch the puck in about two seconds on a pretty passing play. But the final pass to an open Mikko Koivu
in front of the net just skips over the stick. The Wild has settled in since that second goal and is playing a much better game.
1:08 - Marco Scandella
fires the puck off the sideboards and the puck caroms hard off the stanchion and floats toward the goal, where Hiller is caught off guard and barely makes the save. We would have taken that.
0:56.4 - We will take this. Tony Lydman gets called for highsticking and the Wild will have a two-man advantage for 1:26.0:03.2 - MIN 1 - ANA 2 - When you need a huge goal, Heatley is your guy. With just three seconds on the clock and the power play struggling to get something, he gathers the puck in the high slot and just wires a slapper past Hiller and under the cross bar. He also beats the clock because the first Anaheim penalty had yet to expire. There's still 1:07 left on the Lydman penalty, so the Wild will have a great chance to even up this game coming out of the break.
0:00 - That's going to do it for the first stanza, which looks a lot better thanks to Heatley's late blast. Grab yourself a beverage or do whatever you need to do. But be back in front of your computer for the second.Period 2
18:44 - Anaheim kills the penalty and then has a chance as Perry gains the slot and winds up with a big shot. Harding is quick to get the waffle mitt up and knock it into the corner.
16:20 - Nick Schultz catches a pass in the high slot and rifles a shot right on. Hiller is able to make that stop but he can't control the rebound, giving Staubitz a great chance to knock it in. He's able to connect while falling over, but Hiller is positioned well and is able to make the follow up save.
14:29 - After having his wrist shot stopped, Casey Wellman feathers a nice pass back to Kyle Brodziak
taking the ice for a fresh shift. Brodziak gets off a missile and Hiller barely gets a piece of what is already the Wild's 25th shot on goal.
9:55 - Ow! Scandella takes a shot right off the skate and he is in visible pain. He is able to skate to the bench where he'll have a chat with Doc Fuller.4:42 - MIN 2 - ANA 2 - Morris the Cat would be drooling if he witnessed these tasty saucers. From high in the zone, Pierre-Marc Bouchard makes a spectacular saucer pass down low to Cullen who then saucers one right to the front for Wellman to tap in. That trio is showing some serious chemistry in their two games together. This is getting fun.
4:10 - MIN 3 - ANA 2 - Oh don't hurt 'em like that Butchie! Number 96 is starting to feel it now. Entering the zone, he gloves down a high pass from Cullen and then shields a checker before firing a no look backhand to the far side, beating Hiller on the glove hand. Just like that, a little deficit turns into the biggest one-goal lead imaginzable. The Wild has taken this thing over as evidenced by a 28-12 shot advantage.
0:00 - We'll take another period just like that one and we'll be looking at a very nice start to this roadie. Back in a bit. Period 3
17:46 - Heater is just letting that puck fly when he gets a chance right now. He's feeling the...um...heat. Koivu does some hard work in the corner and then lays the puck out there for a wicked one-timer by number 15. Hiller has to react ultra quick to make that stop.
16:52 - Back the other way and the Wild catches a huge break. A shot from the point hits traffic and lays there for Ryan Getzlaf who has a wide open net. Harding lunches to try and get it with the paddle but Getzlaf puts this one off the post.
13:27 - The Ducks are starting to ratchet up the intensity and Harding will have to stay on his toes. A blast from the point is stopped, but Selanne has a go at a big rebound. Once again, Harding stands tall and snuffs that one out.9:15 - MIN 3 - ANA 3 - The Ducks are rewarded for their relentless pressure and we have ourselves a deadlocked game. Cam Fowler, who is turning himself into a Wild killer at a young age, fires off a shot from the top of the left circle. The puck glances off the skate of Marco Scandella and past Harding. Now we're going to have a battle for the last half of this period.
7:46 - The Brodziak line answers the bell. Nick Johnson
hits Clutterbuck with a cross ice pass and he puts a shot right on. Brodziak is right there in front mucking it up and he nearly puts it home before getting dumped to the ice.5:31 - MIN 4 - ANA 3 - When you go to the net, good things are going to happen, like pucks bouncing off of you and stuff. Clutterbuck skates up the right side and just throws the puck to the crease where Johnson is battling with a Ducks defender. The puck richochets off his skate and inside the far post. They're going to review this one, but it's going to count. He definitely is not using any kind of kicking motion and the lead is back.
4:12 - Bouchard steals the puck from Fowler behind the Edmonton net and then dishes to a wide open Wellman bearing down the slot. He punches a shot that misses by mere inches. That would have sent the people in here streaming toward the exits.
1:58 - Hold onto something friends. Mikko Koivu
takes a cross checking penalty and the Wild will be shorthanded for the remainder of this one.
1:18 - Hiller is off and we've got a 6-on-4 for the bad guys.0:10.2 - Good night Anaheim, thanks for the hospitality. The Wild clears the zone and Clutterbuck sends the puck into the Anaheim zone. The puck bounces off the backboard and Luca Sbisa overskates it, giving Cal the easiest goal he'll ever score. He taps it in, and your Minnesota Wild is back on top of the Western Conference all alone.
0:00 - That's three straight times that the Wild has come back from a two-goal deficit on the road. These guys do not quit. Get ready San Jose. You're next.