Aloha State of Hockey Legion, and a Happy Girl Scout Day to all of those cookie-peddling gals out there! As you all know, today is Girl Scout Day, because on March 12, 1912 the first Girl Scout troop was formed in Savannah, Georgia by Juliette Gordon Low. And thanks to Ms. Low, we now have Samoas and Thin Mints and Tagalongs, which have caused me to gain 16 pounds in the last week.
There are two ways to celebrate a day like this: 1) devouring a minimum of three boxes of Do-si-dos, and 2) reading a live in-game commentary documenting events between the Buffalo Sabres and YOUR Minnesota Wild.
Tonight, I am coming to you live from the press box in HSBC Arena, better known as The House That Derek Plante Built. HSBC is very blue, but also very nice. I loved the photos lining the press box tonight, including the one of Alexander Mogilny, undoubtedly the best player on NHL '93, '94 and '95 on Sega Genesis.
But Mogilny is not walking through that door, and that's too bad for the good people of Buffalo. Josh Harding
is going to get the start for the Wild tonight, and the last time he started a game in Buffalo, he walked away with an easy 5-1 win. I can only assume he and the Wild will duplicate that result tonight.
"Hards" is going to be backed up tonight by Wade "Doobey" Dubielewicz, who flew to Toronto this morning, and then hopped in a car to get here to Buffalo. Nik Backstrom is out tonight with a lower body injury. Brent Burns (hip) is also in the building but will not be able to go. Shane Hnidy (leg), Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion) and Clayton Stoner
(hernia) are all away from the team, but no doubt following their teammates on live in-game commentary. Oh, and Chuck Kobasew is going to be your healthy scratch tonight.
As for attire, the Wild will be rocking the road whites for the second consecutive night. The Sabres are going with the home blues trimmed in white and yellow with the horned banana slug on the chest. I'm a little disappointed they're not breaking out the throwbacks with the swords crossed under the charging Buffalo. Come on, guys! Not even for Mike Ramsey's homecoming?
Even though we're in America, we're close enough to Canada that we get to hear both anthems before we drop the puck on this one. Now, it's time to get on point.Period 1
17:25 - The Wild looks good on power play number one, as Martin Havlat puts a shot toward the goal that hits the stick of Andrew Brunette and deflects just inches wide.16:28 - MIN 1 - BUF 0 - You can't stop Andrew Ebbett right now! He's got it goin' on, scoring the last two Wild goals, including this one on the power play. He enters the zone, and from the left circle, fires a low shot through a defender and past Patrick Lalime, starting in place of former Michigan State Spartan, Ryan Miller. The capacity crowd here groans in unison at the somewhat weak goal, but hey, Ebbett can find the net.
12:33 - Harding comes up huge on Buffalo's first power play as Derek Roy blasts a shot toward the goal. The puck hits traffic and drops down and Jason Pominville is there to backhand one quickly on goal, but Harding is quick to snare it with the lobster glove and hold on for a faceoff.
11:46 - Roy and Pominville nearly hook up again as the former glides down the sideboards and sends a hard pass into the slot for Pominville. He just reaches his stick out to deflect it perfectly on goal, but Harding is again quick to react. He gets his arm on the shot and then falls to the ice to cover up.9:49 - MIN 2 - BUF 0 - Daddy like! Guillaume Latendresse pads the Wild lead as Lalime tries to play the puck from behind his own net. G-Lat intercepts it along the backboards, then races to the other side of the goal line for a shallow angle shot. Lalime scrambles to get back, but the puck darts between his legs, and this crowd is in a negative frenzy. Poor Lalime. When you're starting in place of a guy like Miller, anything other than a shutout is going to look horrible.
9:45 - On the ensuing faceoff the puck slides slowly toward Lalime, and he sticks it to a teammate, earning a huge mock cheer. Give the guy a break people! There's 50 minutes left!
6:28 - Another Wild dump in slowly trickles toward Lalime, who hands off to a teammate. Another roar of disapproval. Pretty soon, he's just going to step out of the way of the puck just to stick it to these people.
4:34 - Can you guess what the Sabres mascot is? And no, it's not a Buffalo, or even a sword like the one that croons Frank Sinatra in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" No! Instead, it's a tiger named "Sabretooth." Really? Doesn't he belong in Nashville? Even a Buffalo Wing would be better. I want a winged, sword-wielding Buffalo named "Wingy" in this building by next year, or I will never again be the Sabres on Sega NHL '95 again.
4:18 - Who cares about "Mayweather-Pacquiao?" We've got Owen Nolan against Steve Montador right now, and it's a dandy. These two drop the gloves right in front of the Buffalo net, and it is just a barrage of punch after punch after punch. Nolan looks like Montador stole his lunch money as he pummels him, rips his helmet off and even rips the nameplate halfway off the Sabres jersey! Nolan easily gets the decision here. Now that's some fire!
0:00 - We will take that first period any day of the week. The Wild comes out mad and builds a solid 2-0 lead after one. I believe I may partake in a press box hot dog now.Period 2
19:30 - The Wild comes out firing again. Brunette gets the puck in his office behind the Buffalo net, and then feeds a pinching Marek Zidlicky. He tries to go upstairs on a shot from in tight, but Lalime has to make a very nice save. He gets zero applause.
18:42 - There's former Minnesota Gopher Thomas Vanek. He gets a head of steam going up the left side and that gets him some space to get to Harding. He tries to go up high, but Harding stays hot and turns him away.
18:10 - More feistiness from Cowboy Nolan and his mates. Nine of the 10 skaters out there come together after a whistle, but the only penalty coming out of it is a hooking minor on Nick Schultz.
10:34 - Sorry for the lack of updates, but an up-and-down game has suddenly turned into a neutral zone game with very few scoring chances for either side.
9:20 - Patrick Kaleta tries to line up Schultz along the boards by the benches, but Schultz smartly pulls up and Kaleta goes face first into the boards at about 40 miles per hour. Kaleta then looks mad at Schultz, who apparently was supposed to let Kaleta send him into June.
5:40 - Look out in the fourth row! This is about as vicious as a collision as you can see as Derek Boogaard is at full speed when he lines up Montador. The only problem is that Cal Clutterbuck
is directly behind Montador, and all three of them blow up on contact. I'm thankful to not see a body part end up in the seats. This is scary.
4:33 - Antti Miettinen chases down a loose puck deep in the Sabre zone, and then drops a pass back for Schultz, who crushes a one-timer. Lalime makes a huge save, getting a piece of it with his glove, but he's still not getting any love from the crowd.1:25 - MIN 3 - BUF 0 - What a great effort by Mittens! Despite being near the end of a shift, Miettinen tips a Buffalo pass in the neutral zone and then races after it. He has Brunette streaking (I use that term loosely) up the left side and tries to feed it to him...twice. Both attempts are blocked, but Mittens won't give up and he gets it over to Bruno who redirects it into the top shelf. Period 3
16:48 - With the Sabres on the power play, Tim Connolly fires a shot from the point that misses wide but bounces hard off the backboards. The puck pops right to Andrej Sekera at the side of the net, but his bid is turned aside as Harding slides over quickly and gets his leg pillow in the way.16:18 - MIN 3 - BUF 1 - Not a thing Harding can do on this one. The Sabres finally strike on the power play, and they make it look easy on a great passing play. Pominville sends a cross-zone pass over to Roy, who quickly sends it right back the other way to the front of the net, where Vanek stuffs it in.
14:49 - A great Wild forecheck leads to a steal by Koivu. He then sends a pass down to Miettinen behind the defense, but his bid is turned aside by the glove of Lalime, who actually gets some authentic cheers from the crowd for this one.
13:22 - What a great shorthanded shift by Clutterbuck and Kyle Brodziak
. It's highlighted here as Brodzy enters the Sabre zone down the left side, and he's got Clutter wide open cruising down the slot. Brodziak hits him, but Clutter's shot is denied on a great sliding stop by Lalime.
8:40 - There's a fierce battle going on in front of the Wild net between Vanek and Greg Zanon. Something about it angers Zanon, and he delivers a hard whack to the back of the Austrian's legs, and he gets away with it.
6:05 - A big rebound night for Harding. His 36th save of the night is a beauty, getting the waffle glove on a blast from the top of the right circle by Connolly.
4:49 - There's one of them in every arena (except Xcel Energy Center), and you know who I'm talking about. It's the guy who sits along the glass, and when the puck comes near him, he turns and waves at the camera. Guess what buddy? You don't get extra cool points for doing that. Please sit down.
3:07 - Now this is a fan I like to see. There's a guy in front of me wearing a Mike Ramsey #5 jersey. That is a solid ensemble!
2:11 - Lalime races to the bench to the cheers of many fans in that end.1:58 - MIN 3 - BUF 2 - The Sabres waste no time with the extra man out there, and once again its Vanek, who just sort of appears out of nowhere like he did with the Gophers. Pominville gets the puck behind the Wild net and throws it quickly to the side of the net were Vanek fires it home without hesitation.
0:00 - Now that's a big win for the W's! Minnesota holds off the Sabres, and earns two huge points before heading back to Minnesota for a pair of games.