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Greetings State of Hockey legion! Welcome to this ugly holiday sweater edition of live in-game commentary right here on Wild.com. Normally, there are no rules for reading a live in-game commentary save for one: you have to be a Wild fan. Tonight, the amount of rules will double, because not only do you have to be a Wild fan to read this commentary, but you have to wear an ugly holiday sweater. If you're wearing an ugly Dallas Stars sweater, you're breaking both rules, and I'll give you this time to please exit live in-game commentary, but don't leave Wild.com. I need the clicks. Instread, why don't you check out this kick butt video tribute
to the Minnesota Men of Movember.
Tonight will be all about rebounding. Last night was a tough one for yours truly with the Wild losing in a shootout and the UMD Bulldogs dropping a heartbreaker in overtime. I didn't get much sleep last night thinking about both, but the cure for my ills is a couple of wins by both teams tonight. That's what we have to keep in mind as the Wild looks to end this little struggle it finds itself in. There is plenty of time to rebound and the other teams in the West are within reach. We just have to get locked in and show no mercy to anybody, especially to those horse riders down in Texas.
Fortunately, nobody delights in disappointing Texans like Jose Theodore, unless you count Oklahoma college football fans. Theo is getting a big start tonight in a place where the Wild hasn't won since native Texan George Dubya Bush was in his first term as a President. He hadn't even had a shoe thrown at his melon by that point. Theo loves a challenge, and tonight he stops the skid.
Tonight, the Wild welcomes back Chuck Kobasew to the lineup. He's been out of the mix and reading live in-game commentaries the last 14 games, but he gets back in there tonight. That means Patrick O'Sullivan comes out of the lineup, and he'll sit in the American Airlines Center press box alongside fellow healthy scratch Justin Falk
, and Bill Robertson, the Wild's Vice President of Communications who is making his triumphant return to the road as the team's representative. Apparently, PR lackeys Aaron Sickman and Ryan Stanzel weren't cutting the mustard, so they brought in the big dog to change the juju in Dallas. Guillaume Latendresse
(hip) and Clayton Stoner
(upper body) are injured and out of the lineup.
I'm sure you're dying to find out what these teams are wearing tonight, so let me be the first to tell you the Wild will go with the road whites tonight. The South Stars are in their home blacks trimmed in gold and white with "DALLAS" written across the chest along with each player's number. That's for when Steve Ott forgets his number when his coach calls out line changes, he can look down at his chest to remember.
That does it for the minutae. I'm kicked back on the davenport, I've got Ivy, my trusty four-legged sidekick passed out next to me, and I'm ready for redemption. Let's do this!Period 1
16:18 - MIN 0 - DAL 1 - The Stars draw first blood just after coming up empty on an early power play. Ott finds Karlis Skrastins at the blue line, and when he sees traffic in front, he just sends a long wrist shot that Theodore doesn't see until it's too late. The puck zips by the waffle glove and lights the lamp early. There are good hockey names and there are bad hockey names, and I have to say that Karlis Skrastins is my least favorite hockey name.
12:52 - Marek Zidlicky and Brendan Morrow are jostling and having words after a whistle. I think there might be some animosity in this game all night long, especially after what transpired last year when Cal Clutterbuck
lit up Brad Richards with a monster check and Ott felt that he needed to fight Clutter twice because of it. Ott of course was the same guy who slammed Petr Sykora's head into the glass earlier in the season.
11:42 - The Stars just strike me as a group of numbskulls, and I'm not sure if it's a coincidence that Marc Crawford is their head coach. This is a good example as Pierre-Marc Bouchard
reaches for a puck in the neutral zone and the puck deflects out of play and into the Dallas bench. Well after the whistle, Brandon Segal feels like he needs to come over and deliver a shot to Butch. Way to pick your battles Brandon. Always go after the little guy on the ice who missed a year due to a concussion. Class, class, class.
9:52 - Prior to a neutral zone faceoff, Ott and Marty Havlat lineup across from each other and Ott gets in Marty's personal space and likely says something demeaning. Havlat is having none of it and he delivers a few shots to Ott's abnormaly large noggin. Both players are heading to the box, and Mike Greenlay says it's a bad tradeoff for the Wild, but I like it. It just shows nobody's going to be taking this crap all night.
7:02 - On the Wild's first power play, Havlat and Matt Cullen
make two great touch passes to set up a one-time rocket from Marek Zidlicky who gets the shot through traffic and past Kari Lehtonen but rings it off the cross bar.
4:02 - Again, well after Theodore gloves a long shot from the blue line, Ott, who is at least 20 feet away, goes all the way to the crease to start jabbering at Theo. Brent Burns is there and he quickly horsecollars Ott and pulls him out of there. I think it's about time for Brad Staubitz to find Ott out there. This is infuriating me.
0:00 - That's going to do it for a period short on scoring chances for both teams, but long on post-whistle shenanigans by the Stars. Time to throw a pot pie in the oven.Period 2
18:52 - Eric Nystrom makes a great pass in the neutral zone to spring Clutterbuck on a shorthanded breakaway. It looks like Clutter has one as he makes a nice move and tries to tuck one in on the short side, but Lehtonen somehow gets his right skate out to make a huge save and preserve the Dallas lead.
17:52 - This time it's Clutter's nemesis with a breakaway in the Wild zone. Richards finds Ott with a long lead pass. He goes in full steam and then shoots from about five feet out and of course keeps going and barrels into Theodore. He wasn't pushed, so I don't know why there's no call here, and I'd also like a Wild player to step up and rattle this guy's cage.
12:58 - A Wild power play is shortlived and of course it's because Ott gets away with more crap. After Lehtonen kicks a puck into the corner, Ott drills Havlat from behind at the top of the crease and puts him right into Lehtonen. Of course, Don Van Massenhoven is going to call Havlat on this one. Ott is in my head right now.
11:26 - The Stars do have some talented players as well, and one of them is James Neal. He makes a great play to rush past the Wild defense and get in on Theodore. But like he did two games ago, Theo makes a spectacular pad save right along the goal line and he kicks it out despite falling into his own net.
9:54 - The Wild gets an odd-man rush as Kyle Brodziak
carries up the right side with Cullen on his left. The Stars completely take away the pass so Brodzy tries to go upstairs with a wrister, but Lehtonen cuts down the angle perfectly snares it with the lobster mitt.8:15 - MIN 0 - DAL 2 - I don't feel so good. There is nothing more nauseating than seeing Ott of all people take a nifty drop pass from Neal and then roofing a wrist shot past Greg Zanon and Theodore and into the top corner on the far side. I think I'd rather see Jarkko Ruutu score against us.
5:19 - If the Wild is going to get back in this, it's going to need Havlat to step up again. He and Bouchard criss-cross in the Dallas zone and Butch leaves a nice drop pass for Marty. Number 24 puts a wrister toward the low corner, but again Lehtonen is up to the task and keeps that ugly zero up on the board.2:26 - MIN 1 - DAL 2 - There it is! Mikko Koivu decides enough is enough and he forces the issue behind the net. Getting the puck, he just relentlessly gets to the side of the net to try and stuff it in. Lehtonen makes the stop, but the rebound pops up where several players are battling, including former Star Antti MIettinen. The puck looks like it actually bounces off his arm or the shaft of his stick but it certainly wasn't intentionally knocked in with his hand. They go to Toronto to review it, and after a lengthy review, the goal stands. Period 3
18:19 - MIN 2 - DAL 2 - Heck yes! Welcome back Chuck, and great job Cal! The Wild comes out hard to open the third, and shortly after he steamrolls Skrastins into the sideboards, Clutter fires the puck on goal from a shallow angle on the right side. The shot handcuffs Lehtonen and the puck wriggles through and stops just shy of the goal line. But that's where Kobasew is camped out and he knocks it home for his second of the season and in his first game back from injury. Huge goal there.
16:06 - Theodore comes up big and helps the Wild dodge a bullet. Neal gets free in the right circle and puts a shot right on. Theo makes that save but the rebound comes right back to Neal and from point blank range he misses the net.14:03 - MIN 2 - DAL 3 - Just like that, the Stars grab the momentum again. Behind the net, Trevor Daley throws the puck to the front of the net where former Wisconsin Badger Adam Burish is standing with his back to the net. Burish stops the pass and as Theo moves to his right, Burish puts a backhand to the opening just vacated and gets the Stars a lead again.
10:27 - Koivu gets away with one as he and Loui Ericsson meet in front of Theodore and Mikko gets his stick up high and clips Loui in the mouth. There's even blood showing on the lip, but the zebras missed it if you can believe that.
8:07 - Ever since Kobasew's tally, it's been all Stars hounding the Wild in the Minnesota end. Theodore has had to be rock solid to keep his team in this one.
4:18 - The top line does a great job of finally gaining the Dallas zone and applying some serious pressure. They move the puck all around behind the net, but the best chance comes on a Miettinen one-timer from the right circle that Lehtonen turns away with the blocker.3:09 - MIN 3 - DAL 3 - It's Havlat time! This guy is just turning into a bull these days. After a Zidlicky shot hits a skate and bounces to Havlat. He has one shot attempt blocked from the low slot, but he sticks with it and spins around with a backhand shot past a fooled Lehtonen for a yooooooge equalizing tally. Havlat is going for an unprecedented third straight victory in the Bryant "Who's Hot?" Player of the Week feature on Wild.com.
0:00 - For the second straight night, the Wild gets at least a point, but it will look for an extra one in overtime after fighting back hard in this one. Overtime
2:24 - Not many chances early, but that's going to change here after Burns trips up Benn as he flies through the Wild zone. It's the right call, but the refs should have called an interference penalty against Dallas eariler in OT when Koivu was taken down away from the puck.
2:05 - A shot from the point gets through to Theodore and the rebound comes right to Mike Ribeiro all alone in front. He tries to fake out Theo, but the Wild keeper stays right with him and puts up the wall. 1:23 - MIN 3 - DAL 4 - And it's over. A Stephane Robidas shot on the power play eludes the shoulder of a screened Theodore. The Stars win their sixth straight, while the Wild gets a second straight point but stays winless in its last five.