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Good evening State of Hockey legion, and a Happy Kenyatta Day to all of the Wild fans in Kenya. I know y'all are just waiking up, so let me thank you for coming back to live in-game commentary presented by Sun Country Airlines, easily the best airline out there when you're looking to get away to a tropical destination.
That does sound nice, although I have to say I'm pretty relaxed and comfortable as I come to you live from my living room in the Richfield estate. Yes, for those of you who have followed in-game commentaries the last two seasons, you know I used to work from my Como Park Palace. Much to the chagrin of Wild tryout player, Mike Kramer, I am up and gone from the shadow of the State Fairgrounds and now close to a Chipotle. But I still have Ivy, the loyal labrador next to me on the davenport and we're ready to kill this thing for the first time this season from the new digs.
Tonight, the Wild has the Edmonton Geekwads...also known as the Oilers, on the schedule. The good news here is that Niklas Backstrom
doesn't lose to the Oil. It just does not happen, and that's why he's manning the crease against them tonight. Sure, he didn't have his best performance of the young season on Tuesday night against Pittsburgh, but that's the best part. He always follows up a bogey with a birdie.
I might as well copy and paste this paragraph from previous in-game commentaries because Mike Lundin
(back) remains out of the lineup, while Matt Kassian
, Nick Johnson
and Justin Falk
will be the healthy scratches. Their penalty for not playing means they'll be stuck up in the Rexall Place press box with PR mavens Aaron Sickman and Ryan Stanzel. Ugh...I'd rather get bag skated.
If you only like hockey because of the sweet uniforms, then I have some information for you. The Wild will put on the road whites for this one. The Oilers are going with the home blues trimmed in orange and white with the oil drop on the chest.
Personally, I like hockey because of Dan Terhaar and Mike Greenlay and the way they sell the game. I'm going to let them be my soundtrack, and you can read the script right here. Let's do this, younguns.Period 1
17:02 - The first whistle of the game signals that the Wild is going to get an early power play. Ryan Smyth bowls over Backstrom on a shot from the point, and he's getting the gate for goalie interference. I don't like seeing Smyth anywhere near Backy, so the more he's in the box, the better.
15:02 - The Wild power play expires without a goal, but the good news is there were plenty of scoring chances there, and Mike Yeo talked about how the PP can't score every time, but they do need to generate some momentum with the man advantage. So far, so good.
11:36 - Backstrom looks like he's showing off some dance moves as he kicks out the leg pads three times in about three seconds as the Oilers start teeing off with slap shots. He kicks each one out with relative ease.
8:55 - There's ol' Andy Sutton, the former Michigan Tech Husky who was an original member of the Wild. He and Brad Staubitz are exchanging words after Nikolai Khabibulin scoops up a rolling puck.
8:34 - The Wild catches a break as the Oilers gain the zone on the rush with Taylor Hall carrying up the left wing. He has Backstrom down and throws a pass to the crease for Jordan Eberle. The puck deflects off him, but squirts just wide behind Backy.
5:01 - That Hall kid is crafty. He likes to try and bank shots in off players in front. He takes one shallow angle shot that Backstrom stops, but he quickly scoops up the rebound, wheels behind the net and throws it toward the bodies in front. Fortunately, Marco Scandella
plays it perfectly and keeps the puck out of the danger zone.3:51 - MIN 0 - EDM 1 - A rare flub by Greg Zanon leads to an early Oiler lead. Zanon retrieves a dump in behind his own net and tries to make a breakout pass, but he puts it right on the tape of Smyth. The big man quickly finds former Miami University Redhawk Ryan Jones who easily deposits the puck by Backstrom.
3:14 - The Koivu line finds some space to start a rush from their own end into Edmonton's zone. Dany Heatley
dishes to Koivu cutting down the slot, but Koivu goes right back to the Heater. He tries to cut to the front and go upstairs with a backhand, but puts it over the cage.
2:44 - Staubitz lays a hit on Ben Eager, who responds with a slash to the gut, and that means the gloves are off. These are two tough boys going at it and both land a couple good shots before Eager loses his footing and Staubitz puts him on the ice.
2:27 - The big boys are getting their chances but they just can't put them away. Devin Setoguchi
breaks in and he's got a clear lane to the net. Khabibulin even seems to be giving up quite a bit of the glove side, but Seto rips a shot wide. These guys aren't going to stay snakebit for too long, I can promise that.
0:00 - Backstrom swallows up a slap shot from 'ol Cam Barker just as time expires. The Wild heads to the break with a one-goal deficit but plenty to build off in the second. Period 2
19:15 - Oiler killer Pierre-Marc Bouchard
is looking to make something happen down low. He moves in from tlong the goal line and tries to surprise Khabibulin with a quick shot toward the far post, but the Edmonton keeper knocks it away.
18:16 - These young Oilers are scary. Linus Omark makes a great play behind the Wild net and feeds one to the front for Anton Lander. He tries to go upstairs but a lunging Backstrom is able to keep it out with an acrobatic arm save that bats the puck down in front. There's a scramble, but Backy is able to cover up for a faceoff.
15:34 - Guillaume Latendresse
shows the physicality in his game by destroying Lander against the backboards behind Backstrom. Lander looks dazed as he gets up, but he appears to be fine.
10:44 - The jinx continues for that top line. Koivu does great work behind the net to free the puck and feed Heatley in front. He one-times one that Khabibulin stops. He gets the puck right back, puts another shot toward the goal and that's knocked away by an Edmonton skate.
10:16 - Matt Cullen
splits the D and catches a great pass from Heatley to get in on a lone break. He tries to put one five hole but Khabibulin closes the door on that shot, holding on for the rebound.
9:15 - Man, the boys just seem to be squeezing the sticks too much. Cal Clutterbuck
leads a three-on-one and he slides one over to a wide open Latendresse. He's got a whole mess of net to shoot at but he punches a shot wide of the cage.
5:33 - Ol' Eric Belanger causes a turnover at the blueline during a Wild power play and he's got a clean break the other way. He tries to go upstairs with a backhand and rings it off the crossbar.
0:00 - We're through two and the Wild are still looking for goal one. Something needs to happen early in the third. I've got a very good feeling that it will.Period 3
17:57 - Brett Bulmer
makes a nifty play at the Edmonton blueline as he draws a defender and then hits Clutterbuck in stride entering the zone. Clutterbuck sends a hard, low shot but Khabibulin continues to stymie teh Wild coffers at every turn.
17:30 - Again, nothing is getting through the Bulin Wall. Koivu bulls his way to the net from the side and brings it to the front. He tries to stuff it in, but he's denied.
13:40 - The Oilers are making the Wild go 200 feet and they're not making it easy. Minnesota finally gets it in there and Bouchard tries to hit a wide open Cullen in front, but Khabibulin is able to stick the puck away.
11:10 - Very scary moment as Koivu battles for the puck behind the Edmonton net and he gets clipped in the neck area by the skate of Heatley as he falls to the ice. Apparently he's bleeding quite a bit, so the Wild may be without him for the remainder of the game.
7:07 - Darroll Powe
now skating on a line with Heatley and Setoguchi. His energy is creating some havoc and leads to a chance by Setoguchi who misses with a shot wide.
2:48 - Khabibulin makes his biggest stop of the night as Jared Spurgeon
slaps a shot toward the goal and Heatley puts a tip on it. Somehow, Khabibulin is able to react quick enough to preserve his shutout. We need to start using the shutout word a lot so as to jinx this dude.
0:54.7 - Backstrom heads off for an extra attacker.0:00.5 - MIN 1 - EDM 1 - Unbelievable! With a half second left, the Wild get this thing tied up. It's Heatley, who has been booed all game, getting the equalizer with the latest Wild goal of regulation ever. The puck goes into the corner and Setoguchi picks it up. He drops it to Heatley at the side of the net and the big man somehow finds an opening with a high shot and it drops behind Khabibulin. Players on the ice and on the bench are delirious. If I said I wasn't starting a line about a Wild loss, I'd be lying to you. I apologize.
0:00 - Buzzzzzzzzzzzz...We're going to overtime. Again.Overtime
4:39 - Kyle Brodziak
nearly ends this thing right off the bat in OT. Clutterbuck hits him with a perfect pass in front, but Brodzy flicks it just wide.
2:40 - A Spurgeon shot is kicked right to Bouchard in front. He tries to make a pass back to the crease, but hits a skate. Butch is an Oiler killer. He's got to shoot that one.
0:15.4 - The Oilers are looking for some last second magic of their own. Eberle feeds down to former Wisconsin Badger Tom Gilbert
, who one-times a quick shot from in tight. Backstrom makes a huge save.
0:00 - Another shootout? Why not?Shootout
Eberle is going to lead this thing off. This kid has some serious skills, but Backstrom stuffs him with the left leg.Cullen leads off for the Wild and can put his team in the driver's seat. No doubt! He jukes Khabibulin to the ice and goes upstairs with a water bottle shot. Chicks dig those.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins makes his first shootout attempt in the NHL and he also goes to the backhand. Not tonight young padwan. He misses wide.
Bouchard can end it, but his attempt through the five hole is denied by Khabibulin's stick
It's up to Belanger who dekes Backstrom to the ice but puts it off the far post. That's two points for the Wild, who were a second away from zero. Unreal.