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Holla at your dog, State of Hockey legion (but not literally, because Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan would tell you that's not being calm assertive)! Welcome back to in-game commentary on Wild.com. The air outside may be frigid, but live in-game commentary is the hottest thing on the web. It's true. Look it up. But don't google it. Support your local public libraries, where they kick it old school. They are almost as old school as the city of Edmonton, which happens to be the home of Jared Spurgeon
, whose parents will be taking in the Wild-Oilers tilt tonight.
Wild PR maven Ryan Stanzel has already gone on record as saying Spurgeon will score a goal tonight. I'll see that Spurgeon goal, and I'll raise him a Pierre-Marc Bouchard
a Kyle Brodziak
game-winner. Stanzel has also been bragging about the Edmonton press meal, which apparently featured some ribs. Again, I'll see his ribs and raise him a full plate of Hamburger Helper. That is what we in the business call brain food, and it's going to give me the needed energy for a huge commentary tonight.
I only wish I had as much energy as Anton Khudobin, who will be the Wild's starting keeper tonight. That guy could swim across the croc and hippo-infested waters of the Nile and come out on the other side looking for a dance club. He's coming off a huge shutout of the Vancouver Canucks, and now he's taking on the team he scored his first NHL win against. Tonight, he's looking for his first NHL road win, and by golly, he's going to get it.
Unless you're out of the loop, you know that Cody Almond
was recalled from Houston yesterday. Unfortunately, young Cody is going to sit this one out as the team's only healthy scratch. Jose Theodore (hip) is unavailable tonight, but Niklas Backstrom
is dressed and will back up Dobby. Guillaume Latendresse
(abdominal), Marek Zidlicky (shoulder) and Marco Scandella
are back here in the states and surely following tonight's game along with y'all on live in-game commentary.
As for attire, the Wild will pull on the road whites for tonight's showdown. The Oilers will sport the home blues trimmed in orange and white with the big oil drip on the chest.
Now then, a wonderful edition of Qwest Wild Live, which included Wild Assistant to the General Manager Jim Mill, who is a dead ringer for Dana Carvey. Isn't that special?
Let's do the dang thing.Period 1
18:21 - MIN 1 - EDM 0 - Solid start boys. Solid as Sears. Matt Cullen is now rolling along but he gets some help from some nifty passing. Bouchard flicks a backhand pass into the corner where Eric Nystrom grabs it and flings it to the front of the cage for Cullen. The Moorhead Spud his denied from close range by Khabibulin, but Cullen spins around and whacks the rebound in on the backhand.
16:35 - MIN 2 - EDM 0 - Hey now, you're an All Star! Brent Burns gets his game on by following up Cullen's goal with one of his own. He gets the puck at the point and has all kinds of room. Showing you don't always need to try and smoke a slapper through the netting, he calmly finds a spot and hits it through a Cal Clutterbuck screen with a perfect wrister. I might not have to unbold my font all night!
11:08 - Wild has a great chance to go up three as Antti Miettinen throws a backhand pass to a wide open Mikko Koivu
in the right slot. Koivu could actually walk this one in but he opts to one-time it and doesn't get everything on the shot, sending it over the net.
9:51 - The Oilers use their first power play to get some momentum going. Ales Hemsky just flies right through the middle of the ice to get in on Khudobin. He gets the Wild goaltender to go down to the ice, but he's moving so fast, he loses control and pushes his shot wide.
8:13 - Already with a goal, Burns makes a spectacular play in his own zone, sliding face down on the ice and using that long reach to poke the puck off the stick of Ladislav Smid just as he's about to let a shot go from low in the slot.
6:14 - Rookie sensation Taylor Hall steals an attempted breakout pass by Bouchard and gets in alone on Khudobin, but the bubbly Russian holds firm and denies Hall on the doorstep like he's a boy scout selling popcorn tins.
2:34 - Clutterbuck streaks up the right side and gets an angle on former Michigan State Spartan Jeff Petry. Clutter is stopped by Khabibulin, and although he puts the breaks on, he doesn't let up enough and knocks the Bulin Wall down. He's heading to the box for a couple minutes.
0:29.3 - Edmonton again gets another chance on the power play as former Maine Black Bear Dustin Penner feeds a pass to the left side of the net where former Wisconsin Badger Tom Gilbert
is wide open. Gilbert puts a quick shot right on goal, but Khudobin lunges to his right and makes a huge stop to keep the Oilers off the board in the first.
0:00 - That right there is a special little period. The Wild will get some refreshments and some rest, but they'll look to continue doing work in the second. Period 2
18:46 - Martin Havlat has a couple pass attempts from the right side blocked, but he eventually gets the puck to bounce off a skate and bounce right to Clutterbuck in the slot. Clutter sends that high rising wrist shot on goal and the puck hits Khabibulin and drops behind him in the crease, but the Oilers are able to clear.
14:40 - The Wild penalty kill is unbeatable right now. That's 27 of the last 28 opponent power plays that have gone scoreless.
10:54 - The Wild catches the Oilers on a bad defensive change, and that gives Miettinen all kinds of time to pick up the loose puck in the neutral zone and carry it into the Oil zone with Koivu trailing. Miettinen is looking to get off the schneid, so he winds up and cranks a slapper, but Khabibulin is right where he should be and sponges it up.
10:02 - Something about this building makes the Wild take penalty after penalty. The penalty kill unit will get a test now as the Oilers will have a two-man advantage for 1:40. It's worth mentioning that the Wild has yet to enjoy a power play tonight.
8:22 - Miettinen is out of the box.
8:02 - And now here comes Zanon. Wow! What a kill by the Wild, who really didn't even allow much of a scoring chance. Koivu was an absolute beast out there for the first minute, by the way.
4:53 - I'm having some serious flashbacks to the last game in Edmonton. The refs are just finding everything they can possibly call against the Wild, while they seem to ignore every infraction by the Oilers. And no, it's not the same reffing crew from October 21 when the Wild were called for 10 minors.
2:40 - The Wild kills its sixth penalty as Zanon comes out of the box just as Khudobin makes a stellar blocker save, which is his 23rd stop of the night. Period 3
16:13 - Clutterbuck's shot is giving Khabibulin all kinds of trouble tonight, but thus far, he's been able to keep the puck out of the net. Clutter winds and blasts a shot from the right circle, but Khabibulin gets just enough of it with the waffle glove.
15:03 - It will come Nystrom, it will come. The guy just can't catch a break as he goes hard to the net and can't tip home a Cullen centering pass. The puck is kicked around in the slot and Nystrom fires a wrister that looks like it's a goal, but it grazes the outside of the net. Lip reading is not among my limited skills so I'm not going to venture a guess at what Eric is saying to himself right now. The good news is the Wild will get its very first power play of the night.
12:42 - Penner drives hard to the net and gets around Clayton Stoner
, but he misses his shot wide. Khudobin has been great again tonight, but he's also benefitted by some misfires off Oiler sticks.9:56 - MIN 3 - EDM 0 - Phew! The Wild needs this goal, because eighth place Colorado has just scored to beat Vancouver in overtime. But it looks like the Wild will keep pace as Gilbert takes a spill in the Edmonton corner and Nystrom scoops up the loose puck. He centers to a wide open Bouchard in the slot, and Buth waits out a sprawling Khabibulin, looks like he's going behind the net and then tucks one in easily for his second point of the night. Take that Stanzel!
7:58 - The tempers have arrived! It all starts as Theo Peckham slams Havlat to the ice and continues to deliver some cross checks as Havlat is on the ice. Marty doesn't like that, so he hog ties Peckham's legs and pulls him down. They both get up and Peckham hits him again, and wants to go. Let's get real. Havlat is not going to fight Peckham who enjoys the fights. Brodziak comes to his aid and hits Peckham, who immediately drops the gloves. Brodziak can't even respond before getting knocked to the ice by Gilbert. That starts a whole bunch of chatter and Zach Stortini grapples with Burns. Again, Burns is not going to fight Stortini, so he just hangs on while the big oaf tries to punch the All-Star in the midsection and head. The refs break it up and then go about trying to sort things out. All the while, Clutterbuck is yapping constantly at Stortini, and once again, I ask why we can't put a mic on Clutter for one of these games? 7:53 - MIN 4 - EDM 0 - In the words of Rachel Phelps, the witchy owner of the Cleveland Indians, "That oughta shut these people up." On the ensuing faceoff, the puck is won back to Cullen, who rips a shot on goal from the point. Khabibulin kicks it to the side where Andrew Brunette amazingly stops it with his skate, and in one motion, deposits the puck into the net from a shallow angle. That's 250 goals in the illustrious career of Bruno, and it's a nail in the Edmonton coffin.
7:24 - Khudobin always makes it interesting, but you can't argue with the results. He basically crawls on the ice as tries to go after Magnus Paajarvi as he dances with the puck near the goal. Paajarvi gets the puck to Smid who completely misses a wide open net.
5:37 - More shenanigans behind the Edmonton net. Chuck Kobasew, who is turning into a bruiser, gets tangled with Ladislav Smid. Smid wants to throw haymakers, but there isn't going to be a brawl here. It's just going to be a 10 minute misconduct for Smid.
4:08 - Time for Staubitz to enter the picture. He takes exception to a J-F Jacques hit on Brunette, so he goes after him. They tangle against the boards, but again, few punches are thrown. There are less than five minutes to play, so there's a chance Stauby gets an instigator call here.
3:46 - MIN 4 - EDM 1 - The Oiler power play finally converts, and Khudobin's shutout streak finally comes to an end. Former Michigan Wolverine Andrew Cogliano drops a pass back to Paajarvi and he one-times a blast past the blocker of Khudobin and under the crossbar. The shutout is gone, but the lead is still very much in tact.
0:00 - That's game homey! The Wild scratches and claws and gets a big win to open up this road trip. It's back to work tomorrow in Calgary.