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Good evening State of Hockey legion! Welcome to the second-to-last in-game commentary of the season, and the last from my living room in the Como Park palace. Some people might prefer a Friday night out on the town or at the movies this time of year. But for me, you put me in front of a computer, a hockey game featuring the Minnesota Wild and the Edmonton Oilers and on a couch with Ivy the yellow lab, and I'm sound as a pound.
Don't even try to tell me that this game is meaningless, because I will call you on spreading howash around the State of Hockey. If a game counts for two points in the standings, it's worth winning. If the Edmonton Oilers want to sandbag for another first overall pick, best of luck to them. We want wins up in Minnesota. We want one tonight. We want one tomorrow from the UMD Bulldogs. And we want one on Sunday. And that's just the way it is.
Problem is, wins have been tough to come by in the past month for the boys in green and red. Tonight, they will find one thanks to Jose Theodore, who will be getting the start between the red posts tonight. I'm confident that when all is said and done, Theo will have recorded a "W," which would be number six for the Wild against the Oil this season.
However, it's not going to be easy. If you have a half hour, I'll tell you about the players who won't be in the lineup tonight because of various injuries: John Madden (lower body), Martin Havlat (upper body), Guillaume Latendresse
(lower body), Nick Schultz (concussion), Marek Zidlicky (lower body) and Marco Scandella
(finger) are all out. Jed Ortmeyer
is going to be a healthy scratch and Drew Bagnall
is set to make his NHL debut.
As for attire, the Wild will go with the road whites for tonight's contest. The Oilers will go with the home blues trimmed in orange and white with the oil drop on the chest.
Before puck drop, viewers are treated to the final national anthem sung by Paul Lorieau, who is retiring the pipes after 30 years as the Oiler anthem singer. It's a very special moment, and now we're set to go.Period 1
19:53 - This didn't take long. Right off the opening faceoff, Clayton Stoner
and Theo Peckham find each other and the gloves are off. Right away, Peckham is able to pull Stoner's jersey over his head, and that's not a good thing. That means Stoner didn't have his jersey strapped down, and that's going to be a game misconduct. As for the fight, Stoner can't get his arm free as it's tangled in his jersey, and Peckham is going to get this decision. But the fight is going to put the Wild down to five defensemen early in the game. Bagnall is going to get some ice time tonight.
17:29 - You gotta love the intensity. J-F Jacques takes a run at Carson McMillan
, and Brad Staubitz is right there to confront Jacques. Those two drop the gloves immediately, and Jacques gets Staubitz to the ice right off the bat. Stauby isn't done, but as he gets to his feet, a linesman jumps in the middle and separates the two combatants. That appears to anger Staubitz and the Wild bench, but once the zebra gets in there, he can't get out. This could be an interesting night.
15:06 - Oh my! Linus Omark gets the puck on the half boards during an Edmonton power play. He decides he's going to the net, and he does so by just darting around defenders and getting in on Theodore. Fortunately, he lifts a shot high of the cage, but what an exciting player he is.
14:22 - Bagnall is all kinds of nasty. After Theodore stuffs Jordan Eberle on the doorstep, Bagnall throws former Miami University Redhawk Ryan Jones on his back.
11:43 - What is going on here? After Staubitz lays out Magnus Paajarvi, Steve MacIntyre goes after Staubitz and wrangles him to the ice with fists flying. Staubitz never gets a chance to lose his gloves, and MacIntyre definitely breaks "the code" by throwing haymakers at a player laying on the ice. This game appears to be getting out of hand in a hurry.
10:24 - More shenanigans. Clutterbuck drives Peckham into the boards, and Liam Reddox immediately goes after Clutter. That brings everybody in, including Peckham, who seems to think he should just challenge everybody, no matter the toughness level. He throws Kyle Brodziak
to the ice, and then he grabs Matt Cullen
by the collar of his jersey. We might be here for a long time, and we may have to break out the record book. Clutterbuck is getting 5 and a 10. Brodziak is getting 10. Peckham and Reddox are getting 10. This is bizarre.
6:05 - Former North Dakota Fighting Sioux Chris VandeVelde, obviously frustrated about yesterday's outcome in the Frozen Four, gets his stick up high and smokes Chuck Kobasew in the face. That's going to be a double minor. 5:30 - MIN 1 - EDM 0 - There we go! There is some skill out there on the rink right now in addition to all the maulers. On a 4-on-3 advantage, the power play unit works the puck around until it comes to Mikko Koivu at the side of the net. He makes a nifty dish to Brent Burns pinching in, and he one-times a shot past Devan Dubnyk for his 17th of the season. Perhaps this will settle things a bit. It's just nice to see the Wild grab a lead.
0:00 - The longest period in the history of the world is finally over. I'm all for the physical stuff, but I would like to get to bed at a decent hour tonight. I've got a nice little Saturday planned. Period 2
18:35 - MIN 2 - EDM 0 - The Spuuuuuurrge! It's now a two-goal cushion for the good guys following some passing wizardry in the offensive zone. Koivu makes a great behind the back pass to Pierre-Marc Bouchard on the sideboards. Butch glides toward the net and then places a perfect pass to the top of the crease where Jared Spurgeon punches it in against his hometown team. You've got to love seeing Spurgeon light the lamp.
17:08 - MIN 2 - EDM 1 - The Oilers have a quick answer for Spurgeon's marker. Eberle chases a puck toward the Wild goal. He tries to put a shot on, but can't get a handle on the puck. As the disc slides to the side of the net, Eberle is able to poke it past Theodore and into the crease about a foot from the goal line. That makes for an easy tap in for Teemu Hartikainen on the doorstep. I am hoping that's the last time I have to type his name for the rest of the night.
14:46 - The Oilers are storming the Wild zone right now, and Eberle once again is wreaking havoc near the crease. From the side of the net, he puts a tip on a wide shot and into the crease. Theodore is able to get a piece of it at the last instant with his stick, causing it to bounce into the low slot. All kinds of bodies are whacking away, but the Wild is able to block the shooting lanes and finally clear.
11:58 - Now it's the Wild taking charge. Cullen is sprung on a partial break and he blows by the Edmonton defense to get in alone on Dubnyk. From in tight, he puts a shot just wide.
8:44 - The Edmonton power play is generating all varieties of scoring chances. The best comes as Jim Vandermeer gets the puck at the top of the left faceoff circle and he sends a wicked wrist shot past Theodore and off the cross bar.
0:34.4 - Now we're seeing end to end action and some great individual playmaking, which is a complete reversal from the first period. Here, Koivu wins a battle for the puck behind the Edmonton net, and then he just plays keep-away for as long as he wants before VandeVelde finally gets sick of it and hauls him down to draw a penalty. Period 3
18:35 - I have no idea how this attempt from Cullen stays out, but it's still 2-1. Rushing into the zone with Brodziak crashing the net, Cullen attempts a shot from the slot that's blocked. He chops a shot back at the goal, but somehow Dubnyk sticks with it through a maze of bodies and makes a stack-the-pad stop.
15:52 - Cullen has some jump in his skates tonight. He has another golden chance as he's sprung on a breakaway from the Oiler blue line in. Dubnyk comes way out of his net to challenge and sprawls on the ice. Cullen appears to lose control a bit when he sees this, and he's unable to stickhandle around the diving netminder.
12:44 - Does anybody look at Omark and immediately think "Bouchard," or is it just me. The two players possess almost the same build, and it's clear that Omark has the hands and the agility that have made Bouchard such a dangerous offensive presence in his career. Omark nearly gets this thing tied by darting from behind the net to the front, spinning around and then sending the puck through the crease.
6:46 - Both teams are now skating like a playoff berth is on the line, and I certainly don't have the heart to tell them it's not going to happen. Burns smacks a shot from the point that Dubnyk stops. Colton Gillies is there to jam away at the rebound, but he's unable to convert.
5:05 - We've got some more mayhem on an Edmonton power play. Theodore makes a stop and then gets bowled over by former Michigan Wolverine Andrew Cogliano. Theo takes exception and delivers a shot while both players are inside the net. That brings everybody on the ice into the fray and the net slides well away from the crease. The fans want a goal, but the refs immediately wave off that possibility. Theodore and Cogliano continue to have words before order is finally restored.
4:42 - Another Theo save, and another fracas. Hartikainen gets his stick in there after Theodore absorbs the shot. Bagnall is right there and he's not letting anybody get at his new goaltender. They tangle at the side of the net and both will get minor penalties.
1:10 - The Wild is hemming the Oilers in their own zone, not allowing Dubnyk to get out of his net.0:48.8 - MIN 3 - EDM 1 - Dubnyk is now out of the net, and the puck is in it. Bouchard has his empty net bid deflected by an Oiler stick, but as the puck skitters toward the backboards, Andrew Brunette turns on the jets and gets to the puck at the goal line, and then quickly tucks it in to put this game out of reach.
0:00 - Well, that was fun. The Wild sweeps the Oilers in the season series and picks up a franchise record 20th road victory. One more on the docket. We'll see you Sunday.