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Holler at your boy State of Hockey legion. Welcome to a late Saturday night edition of live in-game commentary, right here on the award-winning website, Wild.com. "What awards has Wild.com ever won?" you ask. Answer: multiple Dotcommies, which is a yearly award show put on by me in the Al Shaver Press Box every July 4th. It's not a heavily attended event, but very prestigious.
My perch in the aforementioned press box is my home away from home. The loveseat in the living room of my Como Park palace is my home inside my home, and that's where I'm going to be tonight as the Wild navigate the frozen pitch against the Calgary Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome. Two reasons to feel good about this news: 1. This is exactly where I was when the Wild knocked off the Los Angeles Kings a week ago, which was the last time they won, and 2. This is exactly where I was this afternoon when the UMD Bulldog football team won its second national championship in three years. Needless to say, there is nothing but good vibes emanating from this IKEA masterpiece, and I haven't moved from it all day. Christmas shopping can wait. We've got a game to win tonight.
Because of that, Niklas Backstrom
will get the start in goal for the Wild tonight. He's 4-1-1 in his last six starts against the Flames, and that includes a pair of shutouts. I don't want to jinx anything, but I have a number in mind as to what it is. I won't say what the number is, but it has no angles and it's hollow in the middle.
The Wild will be without the services of a handful of players tonight. Of course, Guillaume Latendresse
is out with an abdominal injury. Cam Barker is also out of the lineup because he'll be dealing with a personal matter. He should be good to go when the Wild takes on the Flames again on Monday. The Wild will have to scratch a forward, and that's going to be Brad Staubitz.
As for apparel, the Wild will don the road whites for this one. The Flames will sport their throwback reds trimmed in white and gold with the burning "C" on the chest. I'm half expecting Lanny MacDonald and the greatest NHL 'stache ever to appear on the ice.
Wouldn't you know? Another game between the Wild and Flames is under way. Let's do the dang thang.Period 1
18:34 - The Wild's most dangerous line as of late generates the first scoring chance. Kyle Brodziak
displays a great effort to get the puck down low, and then he makes a pretty saucer pass to the front for Pierre-Marc Bouchard
. He snaps a quick shot off and Miikka Kiprusoff comes up with a great save with his left big toe.
15:35 - On an early Calgary power play, Mark Giordano cranks a slap shot that is partially blocked on its way to the net. That forces Backstrom to react quickly, and he does, somehow getting the waffle mitt down to stop the redirect.
10:48 - A long shot from the point hits traffic in front of Backstrom, and the puck just pinballs off skates in front of the net before former Minnesota State, Mankato Maverick Tim Jackman finds it and puts a point blank shot on goal. Backstrom is scrambling but he gets just enough of Jackman's shot to deflect it wide. Backy has no idea where the puck is so he lays flat on his back, but fortunately, it is rolling harmlessly into the corner.
6:36 - Matt Cullen
, who has missed the last three games with a groin injury, tries to throw his leg back over the blueline to avoid an offside call. It looks like his toe catches and he goes down. That can't feel good on the groin area, and judging by the look on Cullen's face, it doesn't.
3:30 - On a dominating shift by the top line, Mikko Koivu
makes a steal in the Calgary zone and gets an off balance shot off on his countryman. Kiprusoff makes the save, kicking the rebound out to Andrew Brunette. Bruno tries to wheel around and fire at an empty net, but has that shot blocked.
0:00 - We've got ourselves a physical, defensive battle here early. The Wild is clearly saving its goal outburst for the second period, when it has generally struggled this season.Period 2
15:58 - Cal Clutterbuck
gets dumped to the ice by former Wisconsin Badger Rene Bourque even though he's not playing the puck. Clutter is just sitting on the ice looking for an interference call, which he isn't getting.
15:10 - Backstrom continues to hold his own against the Flames. Alex Tanguay gets the puck at the bottom of the right circle, and despite being at a shallow angle, he zips a wrist shot toward the top shelf that could very well be a lamplighter if not for Backstrom sliding across and making a beautiful save with the lobster mitt.
11:40 - As Clutterbuck and Tom Kostopolous line up across from each other on a faceoff in the neutral zone, Kostopolous lifts his skate and slams it on the blade of Clutter's stick and breaks it. Clutterbuck lifts his stick and is allowed to go get another one before the draw, but for whatever reason, Kostopolous is not given a delay of game penalty.4:35 - MIN 1 - CGY 0 - Sweet sassy molassy! The Wild breaks the scoreless tie on their first power play opportunity of the night. After barely getting into the zone for the first minute of the man advantage, Koivu says enough is enough. He just charges into the Calgary zone, makes a couple moves and then sends a perfect pass to the net where Antti Miettinen raps it in from in tight. That's the second shot on goal in the period for the Wild, but certainly the best one all game.
0:52.8 - MIN 2 - CGY 0 - Boom, BOOM! When it looked like one goal might win this game, the Wild pumps two past Kiprusoff quickly. Brunette gains the zone and then sends a pass across the rink to Brent Burns at the point. He sends the puck toward the slot where Koivu gets his stick on the pass despite wearing Anton Babchuk like a fur coat. He deflects it past Kipper as he falls to the ice. That gives the Wild its first two-goal second period since October 19 against Vancouver. Period 3
17:02 - With his new stick, Clutterbuck nearly pads the Wild lead on the second Minnesota power play of the game. Havlat skates up the left side and slides it over to Clutter cutting through the left circle. He makes a quick tip on goal and that surprises Kipper a bit but he's able to make the stop.12:19 - MIN 3 - CGY 0 - My dog's snoring is making my living room louder than the Saddledome right now. Former Flame Chuck Kobasew does the honors of silencing the fans who once cheered for him. But first, it's a pretty passing display, and once again, Koivu is involved. He takes a pass from Nick Schultz, and from the right circle he spots Kobasew speeding into the zone and puts the puck right on the tape. Good Luck Chuck one-times it and beats Kiprusoff for a huge goal.
7:29 - Off a faceoff in the Wild zone, Jackman, who has been one of the best Flames tonight, gets a shot off that hits traffic on its way to the goal. Backstrom makes that save, but then is in scramble mode as the Flames come full force to whack away. The puck actually slides underneath Backy and goes to the side of the net where former Michigan Wolverine David Moss picks it up and tries to jam it in. Backstrom is twisted like a pretzel and is keeping the puck out with the back of his elbow until he finally gets a whistle.
7:16 - Jackman takes exception to some chirping after the whistle by Clutter so he delivers a cross check to the chest of the Wild agitator. Clutterbuck doesn't retaliate and Jackman quickly realizes he does not want to take a penalty at this stage, so he quietly skates away.5:17 - MIN 3 - CGY 1 - Backstrom's shutout is kaput, and the Flames now have some life with five minutes to go. Backy does a great job to get his right toe on a point shot from Cory Sarich, but the rebound pops right out to Matt Stajan on the left side. He throws a shot at the empty net and hits it to ignite those fire balls suspended over the goals at the Saddledome.
1:45 - Kiprusoff leaves the net for an extra attacker.
1:04 - Giordano rockets a slapper off the post, and that's followed by a sprawling pad save by Backstrom who is back with a vengeance.
0:00 - Another road game, another road win for the W's. Just have to find that home magic at Xcel Energy Center on Monday night against these Flames and we'll be in good shape friends.