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Yo yo State of Hockey legion, and a Happy Election Day to you. I sure hope you made the right choices when you filled out your ballots today, because if you didn't...well...our country could be in big trouble. But, you'll just have to live with yourself, that's all. Now that you've voted, and you've got your sticker prominently displayed on your shirt, it's time to relax and enjoy some live in-game commentary.
The policy here on live in-game commentary is to have fun. Maybe sitting at your computer and reading about a game doesn't sound as much fun as actually watching it. If that's what you're thinking, then you're wrong. It's the best thing ever. It's particularly exciting when your Minnesota Wild takes on the Calgary Duds, also knows as the Flames because in recent years, the Wild has been piling up the wins against that pesky squad.
And who has been in net as those wins have piled up, you ask? Why, Niklas Backstrom
of course. Lo and behold, the man they call "Backs" is in the net for the Wild tonight. He's 4-0-0 in his last five starts against the Flames, and he's about to put a +1 on that win total you can rest assured.
The Wild will be without the services of a few guys tonight. Mike Lundin
(back), Clayton Stoner
(hand) and Greg Zanon (groin) are out of this one. Recently recalled Warren Peters
will be in the lineup for Cal Clutterbuck
, who is banged up and needing a night off.
If you're into fashion, I can tell you the Wild are going with the road whites for this one. The Flames are donning the home reds trimmed in black, yellow and white with the burning "C" on the chest.
Now, I know "Step Brothers" is on FX right now, and even I'll admit I almost missed CenturyLink Wild Live because I got so into it, but we've got a game to win tonight, folks. Let's get set your VCR's to record the rest of it, and let's get focused.Period 1
17:49 - We breezed through the first two minutes until Backstrom has to come up with his first two saves in quick successsion. Former Wisconsin Badger Rene Bourque fires a shallow angle shot on goal, and then former Dartmouth Big Green Lee Stempniak chips at the rebound, but Backstrom swallow up that shot.
16:39 - Wow! Backstrom got rid of any rust he's had in warmups because he is on his game right now. He denies another golden scoring chance for Calgary as former Alaska Anchorage Seawolf Curtis Glencross finds a loose puck right in front. Glencross goes to the backhand, but Backstrom is able to lunge across and get the paddle of his stick on the shot to knock it out of midair. 14:25 - MIN 1 - CGY 0 - The Flames had the early scoring chances, but it's the Wild getting the early goal. Nick Johnson, another Dartmouth boy, carries the puck up the left boards and into the Calgary zone. He sees Darroll Powe, a Princeton kid, going hard to the net, so Johnson sends the puck in that direction. Powe is pulling up, but the puck deflects off his skate and past Miikka Kiprusoff. That's the first goal in a Wild uniform for Powe, which is a nice little achievement.
13:29 - The gloves are off! Brad Staubitz and former Minnesota State Mankato Maverick Tim Jackman are tangling in the Wild zone. Really, that's almost all they're doing as each has a grip on the other guy and neither can get off a punch. Jackman finally lands a couple at close range, but this one isn't really going anywhere anytime soon, so the refs put an end to it.
6:49 - The Flames continue to carry the bulk of the play, and here's Jarome Iginla, who refuses to retire. He takes a drop pass from Alex Tanguay at the top of the left circle and then rifles a wicked wrist shot past Backstrom but off the iron.
3:47 - The Wild kills off a Staubitz penalty, and that's 15 straight kills for the Wild PK unit. The Flames don't even come close on that man advantage.
0:00 - The first period ends with the Wild trailing big time on the shot counter, but ahead on the big board where it really matters.
19:35 - Calgary native Dany Heatley
bulls his way to the net and fights off checkers as he keeps the puck on his stick. Kiprusoff dives out to poke the puck away, but Mikko Koivu
follows up the play and puts a quick backhand on net. Only the outstretched leg pillow of Kipper is in the way and keeps it out.
15:07 - The Wild has been at its best tonight when the Flames are on the power play. The boys kill another one, and really, they're giving up less chances a man down than at even strength.
11:03 - Oh my! Backstrom comes up with another huge stop as Roman Horak dishes to an open Bourque in the right circle. Bourque wastes no time in ripping a shot toward and open net, but Backy is spider monkey-like in getting over and taking it away with a huge pad stop.
9:49 - Guillaume Latendresse
is shaken up as he takes a glass-shaking hit in the Calgary corner from Mark Giordano. You might call this boarding since it is from behind and right into the boards. You
might. The refs will not.
9:08 - Easily the best line for the Wild tonight has been the Kyle Brodziak
line with Powe and Johnson on the wings. They buzz around the Calgary end again, and Brodziak has a chance when he finds a rolling puck in the slot. He rips a shot that surprises Kiprusoff and the Flames keeper barely fights it off with the glove.7:13 - MIN 2 - CGY 0 - Bing bang boom! The Wild's first power play of the night comes through. After struggling to gain the zone, the top unit finally establishes some position and that's when they get to work. The puck is zipped around the zone without hesitation until Koivu dishes to the front for Heatley. He puts just enough juice on it to put it past Kiprusoff and then lets out a huge "Heck yeah!" in celebration. I'm pretty sure that's what he said.
6:19 - The gloves are off again, and this time it's Iginla and Johnson going at it. After a whistle, a skirmish breaks out and Iginla goes after Johnson. Iginla is a skilled player, but he can handle himself in a fight. He tunes up Johnson pretty good, even as he's yelling at the refs. It appears Iginla is upset about a head butt, although it doesn't look like it was intended. Regardless, Johnson is getting a five minute major for head butting. He's also out of the game.
5:57 - Backstrom comes up huge again as the Flames power play goes to work for five minutes. Jackman has a chance right on the doorstep, but Backstrom snuffs that out.
1:18 - The five minute major is over and the Wild penalty kill continues to dominate.
0:00 - Another period down, another goal for the Wild. We'll take our chances with a two-goal lead on the road in a division game. Period 3
18:57 - Iginla has another chance from his hot spot, the low slot. He zips a shot that Backstrom just gets enough of to steer it wide by inches.
16:34 - I just wonder who is going to play goal for the Wild on Thursday. Right now, we've got two red hot goalies. Backstrom robs Jay Bouwmeester not once, but twice on point blank chances. There's no question the Wild is not winning this game if Backstrom isn't standing on his head like he is tonight.
12:42 - Holy bahjeebers! Backstrom is unconscious right now. On another Flames power play, Olli Jokinen has the puck, Backstrom on the ice and a whole lot of net to shoot at upstairs. Somehow, Backstrom gets the glove up and snares it out of the air. Josh Harding
is on the bench and is nodding his approval.
10:11 - Devin Setoguchi
can fire that biscuit. He takes a drop pass from Marek Zidlicky as they enter the zone and then snaps a bullet over Kipper's glove and off the cross bar.
8:51 - Koivu and Heatley have got it goin on on the power play. While fighting off a check in the high slot, Koivu is able to flip a pass to a wide open Heatley at the hash marks. Heatley tries to sneak a shot on the far side, but Kiprusoff gets just enough of it for his biggest stop of the night.
7:02 - Man, I try not to get too worked up about bad reffing, but this reffing is horrendous. Colton Gillies takes Anton Babchuk hard into the boards, but it is a clean play. Not in the ref's eyes. He whistles Gillies for boarding and the Flames will get yet another power play.
2:34 - The Flames are pressing, but Backstrom continues to hold his ground as he's now up over 40 saves. He stonewalls former Denver Pioneer Chris Butler in tight, and you can see the Flames players getting frustrated at this point.
2:12 - Kiprusoff now off for the extra attacker.0:37.7 - MIN 3 - CGY 0 - The streak will hit five. Latendresse ices this one by sending a puck into the net from outside the blueline. That's how you start a five-game road trip.
0:00 - Are you a believer yet? The Wild wins its fifth straight and appears to be a goaltending juggernaut with another shutout - this one belonging to Nik Backstrom.