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Aloha State of Hockey legion, and a Happy Prince Kūhiō Day to all of the Wild fans hula dancing in Hawai'i. I'm quite certain that I don't have to tell you that today marks the birth of Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole — heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, prince of the House of Kalākaua, and later territorial delegate to the United States Congress. In other words, the guy knew how to party, and thus we celebrate him.
Typically, I like to spend my Prince Kūhiō Day sipping some fruity drink out of a coconut while laying back on a beach and looking at people in brightly colored shirts and grass skirts. But today, I'm spending it in my Como Park living room with the fam, chowing down on some SPAM and pineapple sandwiches, and writing a live in-game commentary as YOUR Minnesota Wild invade Joe Louis Arena and push around the Detroit Red Wings.
Now, if I'm sensing what you're thinking (and I like to thing that I am), you feel that the Wild never goes into Detroit and pushes the Red Wings around. I will grant you that, but my reason for confidence bordering on cockiness is that Josh Harding
is starting in goal tonight. The last time Harding started in Detroit, it was not good, and Harding is all about rebounding from subpar performances. He's about to show the Red Wings that the game two weeks a ago was a big ol' fluke.
And by all accounts, Harding brought his "A++" game, so you might as well go ahead and put two points in the win column for the guys in green.
I'm not saying it's going to be easy, however. After all, the Wild is without some key cogs in the machine with Mikko Koivu
out for another game with an arm injury. Cam Barker is also going to miss his first game since joining the Wild due to an ankle injury. Of course, Shane Hnidy (leg), Clayton Stoner
(hernia) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion) are all out as well. Nate Prosser
, the pride of Elk River (not Paul Martin), will be the healthy scratch.
Finally, we'll talk about the wardrobe, which is what you really want to know about. The Wild will wear their road whites for a second straight night. The Red Wings are going with the classic home reds trimmed in white with the winged Goodyear on the chest.
That does it for the appeteasers. Let's get to the dish.Period 1
16:24 - Tough break here, but the correct call is eventually made. Martin Havlat gets the puck behind the Detroit net and puts it in front where Guillaume Latendresse
punches at it. The puck slides to the other side and hits the post, then slides along the goal line the other way before Nicklas Lidstrom sticks it away. The ref immediately signals for a goal, but the replays clearly show that the puck never crosses the line.
15:36 - The Wings get their first glorious chance as former Michigan State Spartan Drew Miller centers a pass from behind the net to Jason Williams (not the basketball player known as White Chocolate) all alone in front. Harding comes out and cuts down the angle perfectly and then sponges up Williams' point blank shot.
15:24 - Holy jumpin' as Darren Pang would say. Williams again gets the puck all alone in the slot. He puts a move on Harding, who bites and looks to be way out of position. But as Williams gets a shot off toward an empty net, Harding somehow dives back and gets just enough of it with the lobster glove to steer it wide. As this happens, Nick Schultz slides into the crease and knocks the net off its pegs, meaning he'll get called for delay of game.
11:09 - Some nifty offensive pressure courtesy of Marek Zidlicky results in a solid chance for Owen Nolan. He settles the puck in the slot while being checked, then wheels around with a shot to force Howard into a tough save. I'm not sure if Todd Richards loves seeing Zidlicky take the puck behind the Detroit net when both John Scott and Derek Boogaard are on the ice, but it doesn't hurt the W's this time.
8:38 - Big John takes a hooking penalty and the Wild is going to be shorthanded for the third time tonight. The Wild has killed 16 in a row, but that's probably not a streak you want to continuously work on when you're playing the Red Wings.
6:38 - Big John escapes from the sin bin and the Wild penalty kill remains perfect on the night. Now we could use some even strength magic.
3:06 - The Wild finally gets a crack at the power play and nearly converts right away. Antti Miettinen feeds down low to Andrew Brunette in front. He makes a couple quick deke moves before trying to slide it through the legs of former Maine Black Bear, Jimmy Howard, who stays with it for the save.
1:30 - Zidlicky is a man possessed tonight. Once again, he joins the offensive rush and makes a sick move to dance around Andreas Lilja. He gets in alone on Howard, but is stuffed by the rookie netminder.
0:00 - That's going to do it for the first, which can only be considered successful considering six of the 20 minutes were played shorthanded.Period 2
19:34 - A scary start to the second as Tomas Holmstrom forces a turnover and then centers to Johan Franzen, who gets a point blank shot off. Harding makes a huge save, but the puck is there for the taking as Franzen, Holmstrom and Pavel Datsyuk all take whacks at it. Harding dives around and the puck is finally cleared.18:41 - MIN 0 - DET 1 - This time, Franzen doesn't miss. Right off a neutral zone faceoff, the puck is turned over to Williams He hits Franzen in stride as he streaks into the zone. He makes a move to pull Harding way out of the net and then he keeps going before firing the puck into the open net from a shallow angle.
15:48 - The Wild continues to kill penalties, but James Sheppard carries the puck the length of the ice and makes a strong push to the net before getting stopped by Harding.15:28 - MIN 0 - DET 2 - The penalty kill streak is over. Holmstrom pads the lead with an amazing tip of Lidstrom's slap shot that was zooming about three feet wide of the net. Holmstrom, as he has done so often, just reaches his stick over and tips it out of midair and past Harding.
12:56 - Miettinen has what might be the longest breakaway of the season. At the Wild blueline, he tips the puck past Brad Stuart and he's off to the races with nobody even close. Mittens hasn't fared well on breakaways this season, and this chance is no different. He tries to go upstairs, but puts his shot over the crossbar.
10:59 - A chance for the Wild here as they'll have a two-man advantage for the next 44 seconds.9:57 - MIN 0 - DET 3 - This is just uncalled for. Instead of getting back in the game, the Wings pad their lead. The puck is turned over in the Wild zone and Lidstrom cranks a shot from the blueline. The puck appears to be tipped by Jonathan Ericsson, but Lidstrom will get credit. Either way, it's not good.
8:37 - MIN 0 - DET 4 - Okay guys, seriously? The Wings won't let my fingers rest. Franzen puts a rebound off the post, and the puck goes into the corner. That's where Datsyuk picks it up and flings it to the front of the net. There isn't a Red Wing in sight, but it doesn't matter. The puck hits Greg Zanon and bounces into the net.
3:53 - MIN 1 - DET 4 - The comeback starts...now! The Wild gets on the board as Zidlicky rips a shot from the point that blows past Miettinen and squeaks through Howard. The puck then settles in the crease, but Brunette reaches for it and pokes it home for a power play goal.
1:26 - The Wild is starting to mount a charge. Kyle Brodziak
gets some space with the puck and puts a low wrister on goal, but Howard makes a solid pad stop. Period 3
20:00 - The comeback is definitely coming now because the quota of playing O.A.R's "This Town" five times in two hours has been achieved. And, Niklas Backstrom
has entered the net in place of Harding. Harding suffered a lower body injury, as did Chuck Kobasew. Both are out for the remainder of the game.17:51 - MIN 2 - DET 4 - Jimmy can't handle that shot. Jimmy wants that one back. Jimmy is feeling a little down. The comeback continues as Owen Nolan brings the puck in and just flips a shot toward the goal. The puck is bouncing, but it still appears harmless. But Howard plays it horribly and it rolls right on by and into the net.
14:31 - MIN 2 - DET 5 - The comeback just got a touch more difficult, but we don't like things handed to us here in the State of Hockey anyway. The Wings convert on yet another power play as a centering pass to Franzen is put on net. Backstrom makes the save but the puck bounces right off the leg of Franzen and back into the net.
12:34 MIN 2 - DET 6 - Keep laughing Detroit. You're going to feel pretty silly when the Wild rattles off five goals in the next 12 minutes. The Wings stretch their lead to four as Miller skates up the right side and just sends a low wrist shot that beats Nik Backstrom, who is visibly annoyed at himself for not stopping this one.
7:15 - Todd Bertuzzi crashes into Backstrom on yet another Wings power play. Bertuzzi gets called for goaltender interference, and he decides to argue the call while still laying on top of Backstrom. Brent Burns doesn't like it, so he delivers a couple shots to the Wild fan favorite.
4:00 - This comeback is about to start. It's just a matter of letting these guys start thinking about the next game and then boom, boom, pow! The Wild gets all Black Eyed Peas on them and ties it up.
3:04 - Cal Clutterbuck
has a burst up the left side and cranks a heavy shot that Howard snares with a pretty glove save.
1:14 - Clutterbuck gets tangled up with Nicklas Kronwall, who gets his hands up high and knocks Clutter back. Clutter responds with a gloved punch to Kronwall's face, and that does not go unnoticed by the refs. Clutter heads to the box, and Kronwall has a good chuckle at the punch.
0:00 - Okay, so the comeback didn't exactly come like I predicted. But I'm not in the business of making predictions. If I was, the UMD Bulldogs would have won the last 30 NCAA men's college hockey championships.