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Good evening State of Hockey legion! Please pull up a chair. I know it's suppertime, but I'm afraid I just polished off the last of the holiday roast beast. I think we have some baby carrots around here somewhere. Truthfully, I hope you ate your early meal a few hours ago because you do not want to be feeling slow and sluggish for the Minnesota Wild's nationally televised tilt against the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight.
For the last time in awhile, I'll be coming to you live from my home studio in Como Park, Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States. After three home games coming up this week, I'll be accompanying the team on a three-game swing to the East Coast. But that trip is a week out, and I'm all about the present. As the Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan would say, you have to "live in the moment" like the dogs in his pack do.
Not many people in the Wild pack live in the moment better than goaltender Jose Theodore, who is getting the start tonight. As a goaltender, he has to have a short memory and worry only about the next shot coming his way. However, let's hope he can at least remember back to last month when he beat the Blue Jackets in a spectacular performance.
Theodore will no doubt enjoy the return of defensive stalwart Nick Schultz, who will return to the lineup tonight after missing three games with a head injury. He'll be joined by Brad Staubitz and Cam Barker, who had been scratched from the lineup recently. That means three players will have to come out of the lineup tonight as healthy scratches, and those will be Patrick O'Sullivan, Jared Spurgeon
and Clayton Stoner
. Guillaume Latendresse
of course will not play due to abdominal surgery.
As for the decorative gear worn by the two sides, the Wild will sport the road whites for this contest. The Blue Jackets will go new navy third jerseys trimmed in white and baby blue, which are yet another rip off of the Wild's red jerseys, complete with the circular logo on the chest. Rather than a Wild head, however, they have a Civil War era cannon on there. The Blue Jackets are now in a class with the St. Louis Blues and Florida Panthers as teams who almost completely copied the Wild's reds.
That's all I've got. Let's get this one going, shall we?Period 1
17:01 - MIN 1 - CBJ 0 - We'll take this start any day of the week. The Wild comes out with some serious hop, and the boys are rewarded early. Schultz appears just fine as he moves way up into the offensive zone and throws a shot toward the goal. Steve Mason makes that save, but he pokes the puck into the slot where an oncoming Chuck Kobasew raps it in up high. Kobasew is really stepping up his game lately, and now he's got another tally.
13:37 - We've got chaos in the Wild crease, but Theodore can't be fazed. Dealing with all kinds of traffic in front, he somehow sticks with a high laser off the stick of Ethan Moreau. The puck drops right down into the crease where former Clarkson Knight Chris Clark is lurking, but Theo somehow keeps it out during a mad scramble and finally gets the whistle when he lays down flat.
11:15 - After a Barker shot from out high is gloved by Mason, Eric Nystrom gets his nose dirty and mixes it up a bit with Clark, as well as Jan Hejda. The Wild didn't have a lot of that edginess last night, so it's good to see Nystrom getting involved early.
10:31 - You knew this was coming once Staubitz was inserted into the lineup. Jared Boll is one of the most willing fighters in the League, and after he lays hits on both Mikko Koivu
and Marco Scandella
, Stauby enters the scene. He confronts Boll in the Wild corner, and very quickly the gloves are off. This is a fun one to watch as the two trade blows, but Stauby definitely gets the better of this one and eventually puts Boll down on the ice. I do like Boll, but he renegged on his commitment to play hockey at UMD in favor of Canadian junior hockey, and when you do that, you get beat up by Staubitz.
7:52 - Despite not playing together often, Andrew Brunette and Martin Havlat show some sick chemistry as they gain the Jacket zone. Bruno drops a pass between his legs back to Havlat and goes to the net. Havlat quickly sends it back to him and Bruno is in all alone on Mason. He tries to make a few quick moves, but Mason holds steady and denies him in tight.
5:50 - After losing control of the puck on a shorthanded break, former Bemidji State Beaver Andrew Murray gets blasted on a mammoth hit by Cal Clutterbuck
4:35 - Brunette often takes some ribbing from teammates for his lack of a rocket shot, but he steps into one in the slot and this one has some heat on it. Mason makes the save, but if he wasn't wearing equipment, this one would have actually hurt. HIs teammates will now just have to stick to making fun of Bruno's lack of blinding speed.
0:00 - The first period comes to an end with the Wild on the power play, and holding onto a one-goal advantage. A nice little road period for the good guys, but there's plenty of time to keep this intensity up.Period 2
18:24 - The trivia question on this broadcast asks what the Wild record is for fastest two goals. I know this! I know this! It's three seconds on goals by Jim Dowd and Richard Park. And, that's an NHL record my Versus friends. I hope you mention that when you reveal my correct answer.
17:23 - Former North Dakota Fighting Sioux Mike Commodore crushes Nystrom in front of the Columbus bench. Apparently Commodore is on his high horse after that so he goes charging into the corner and drills Clutterbuck from behind against the glass. Clutter is shaken and takes awhile to get to his feet, and the refs recognize the danger of this one. They're giving Big Mike a five minute major. Clutterbuck finally gets some justice.
13:10 - Havlat gains the zone and goes one-on-one with Kris Russell. After a couple shoulder jukes, he gets a shot off from in tight, but again Mason is up to the challenge. The Jacket keeper seems to have settled since giving up a shaky first period goal.10:44 - MIN 1 - CBJ 1 - The Wild had oodles of power play time in the first half of this period, but couldn't take advantage. Finally back at full strength, the Jackets dent the twine. Kristian Huselius grabs the puck in the Wild corner and quickly finds Derick Brassard racing into the left faceoff circle. Brassard fires a laser over the shoulder of Theodore that just sneaks under the crossbar.
4:38 - This period really has been all Wild, but the Jackets are the only team to convert. Theodore's challenge is to stay sharp, and he does that here when a loose puck bounces around at the top of the crease and Tom Sestito ends up with a golden chance on the doorstep, but Theo is right there to take that bid away.
1:27 - Theodore comes up with another big stop on Fedor Tyutin's bid, and with the refs slow to blow the whistle, a scrum develops in front of the goal. Once again, Boll and Staubitz are in the middle of it, but there won't be a round two as a linesman is in between the two. Both will get roughing minors.0:01.5 - MIN 2 - CBJ 1 - That just happened! Antti Miettinen makes a fantastic play by wheeling around the perimeter of the offensive zone and drawing all kinds of attention. That leaves Mikko Koivu wide open in front, and Miettinen hits him on the tape. Koivu patiently catches the pass, ties his skate, checks his stocks on ETrade and then picks his spot, beating Mason low. He also beats the buzzer and gives the Wild a huge momentum boost going into the third. Period 3
18:02 - Did someone dip the referree whistles in molasses before this one? Theodore easily gloves a slapper from Russell, and the refs wait about two seconds before giving a tweet and halting play. Of course, players battle in front because they're going to keep going until play is stopped.
16:33 - After Matt Cullen
nearly pads the lead on a great rush that is stopped by Mason, we've got another bout. Once again, it's Staubitz, and this time his dancing partner will be Sestito, who looks to be about 7-foot-9. Stauby won't back down and lands a couple good ones before Sestito clubs him on the chin and puts him on the ice.13:06 - MIN 2 - CBJ 2 - This time, Tyutin's slapper won't be denied. The Jacks blueliner gets some space on the left side of the zone and he steps into an absolute howitzer. Had this one hit Theodore's blocker, it would have taken the glove off Theo's hand. It does not hit anything except the back of the net and we've got a new game.
12:25 - MIN 2 - CBJ 3 - And suddenly, the Wild is down a goal for the first time all night. Not two minutes ago, the Versus announcers were gushing about Theodore, and that seemingly prompted two Blue Jacket goals. Murray gets the puck behind the net and appears to just try to throw it to the front, but he squeezes it between the post and Theo's skate and banks it in. It's gut check time for the boys.
10:45 - Mark Methot is about to get called for a penalty, so he tries to get things evened up by slashing Barker before the whistle. That sets Barker off, and he will go to the box, but Methot is going to get the extra two minutes. A huge Wild power play is on tap.
10:11 - What is Brassard thinking. While sitting on his bench, he grabs a hold of Brunette who is on the ice. The refs see it and make the call, but somehow Bruno is also getting called for a slash, which I don't see on a replay. Wow! You don't see this much.8:32 - MIN 3 - CBJ 3 - Huge, huge, yoooge goal by Clutterbuck. Just seconds after Theodore absolutely steals one away from Russell, the Wild race back the other way. Zidlicky fires a shot that misses wide, but the puck takes a big bounce off the backboards and Clutter is going hard to the net and he easily knocks it in. He is pumped, and he should be. That is one of the biggest goals of the season to this point.
0:57.9 - Miettinen has a great chance to put a dagger in the Blue Jackets by getting free in the slot. He waits to gain some room and then lets a heavy wrist shot go, but Mason is out high on his crease and sponges up that shot.
0:00 - The Wild won't overtake the Jackets in the standings tonight as both teams will get at least a point out of this one. But, the Wild can move into a tie if they can end this thing in overtime. Here we go. Overtime
2:42 - The first great chance of OT goes to the Jackets as Rick Nash gets space on the left and lets a hard shot go, but Theodore comes up big.
2:16 - Back come the Wild the other way, and it's Marco Scandella
, who has been stupendous tonight, skating into the play on the left side and fires a shot low, aiming for the five hole. Mason makes that stop, and we are going end to end.
1:31 - Oh my! Koivu is at the end of a long shift, but he's got a breakaway the other way and gives it everything he's got. He feels the pressure coming from his right side so he winds up for a slapper, but then slows it down and tries to sneak a low wrister past Mason. The previously struggling Jacket goaltender continues to come up big, snaring this one with the glove and holding on despite being off balance.
0:00 - To the shootout we go, where the Wild has yet to win one this year. That's going to change tonight. Shootout
Nash will start things off, and he quickly beats Theodore with a wrister on the blocker side. Early advantage for the Jackets.
Koivu looks to knot it up, but Mason denies his wrister attempt at the five hole.
Former Colgate Red Raider Kyle Wilson is up next, and he also goes with the wrist shot, beating Theodore above the glove hand.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard has to score to keep things alive, and he makes it look easy. He gets Mason to go down and then just deposits it into the empty net.
Huselius can win it, and he does, beating Theo through the five hole and putting the Jackets up two points on the Wild in the standings