Welcome State of Hockey legion! I've been expecting you. Help yourselves to some snacks, but if you wouldn't mind taking off your shoes before you come in, I'd appreciate it. I just Shop Vacked.
It's late Monday night, but things are just getting started here on the ol' love seat in the Como Park Palace where I'll be watching YOUR Minnesota Wild take on the Los Angeles Kings on my brand new television set! That's right y'all, there are these new things called "flat screens" and I am ahead of the game and now have one in my home. I have a feeling these things are going to catch on, because they are pretty sweet. I will certainly miss the trusty old 19-inch TV/VCR combo, but it's had its day.
Now that I have this sweet new screen, I have a better look at Wild Marketing Director Wayne Petersen, who is a featured guest on Qwest Wild live to talk about things like the 50/50 raffle, Hockey Day Minnesota and the Wild Skills Competition. Did you know that Wayne used to work for the Minnesota Twins? He did. If you don't believe me, just ask him.
It might not be as fun as watching Petersen wax on about raffle tickets, but I'll also be watching Niklas Backstrom
make some sweet saves tonight, and they'll be even sweeter in high definition. I'll be able to see the grimaces on the faces of each Kings player as they skate back to their bench after getting denied by Backs.
The Wild will be without Chuck Kobasew tonight and for the foreseeable future due to an MCL/ACL sprain. That is not good news. However, Petr Sykora is close to returning from a concussion and could be in the lineup tomorrow or Thursday. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
and Brent Burns are out with concussions, and John Scott will be the healthy scratch tonight.
For wardrobe, the Wild will be going with the road whites for this contest. The Kings will be sporting the home blacks trimmed in white, silver and purple with the Burger King's crown on the chest.
All right, I heard that the local football program is playing a game right now against a juggernaut from Chicago that has an amazing quarterback. Surely, if the locals are down by 16 points at halftime, it'd be understandable. When facing a future hall of fame quarterback with receiving weapons like Earl Bennett and Devin Aromashodo, you just have to hope you can keep them from reaching triple digits. It's not worth following that when you can read a long-winded summary of a hockey game in Hollywood. Now, let's play some hockey.Period 1
19:20 - The Kings top line gave the Wild fits back in October, and they waste no time doing the same thing on the first shift of the game. Even without Justin Williams, Ryan Smyth and Anze Kopitar play keepaway with the puck behind the net, and they even let their new linemate, former Maine Black Bear Teddy Purcell, play with the puck a bit too.
14:24 - To this point, the Kings were in complete control of the game, but the Wild's top line finally changes that up. For the first time, Minnesota pins the Kings in their own zone long enough for Mikko Koivu
to hit Antti Miettinen in the slot for a one-timer that is stopped by former UMass Minuteman, Jonathan Quick.
13:27 - Uff da! Smyth tries to come out from behind the Wild net with the puck, but Derek Boogaard has some momentum behind his mass and he unloads on the Kings forward. At the point of impact, Smyth was even with the goal line. At the end of the it, he is on all fours and pressed up against the end boards.
12:03 - The bad puck luck for MIettinen continues. On the first Minnesota power play of the night, Marty Havlat finds Mittens open in the slot. He settles the puck and then snaps a quick shot that beats Quick but clanks off the right post.
7:44 - As ESPN personality Chris Berman would annoyingly scream, "WOOP!" Oscar Moller dumps the puck in from the neutral zone and is immediately crunched by Owen Nolan and he topples over the boards and into the Wild bench area.
5:45 - Owen Nolan hustles the length of the ice to negate a Wild icing, and then Cal Clutterbuck
feeds him down low at the side of the net. He has two attempts to stuff it in, but Quick stops one and and Nolan misses wide with the other.
4:56 - Big play by Nick Schultz, covering for Backstrom, who is down on his belly. Dustin Brown has an open net to shoot at, but Schultz positions himself like a goalie and makes a big stop on the shot.
0:00 - That's going to do it for a scoreless first. Not a great period for the road dogs, but we'll take the tie for now, and build on that in the second stanza.Period 2
18:36 - The Wild has a good start to the second and get the first scoring chance as Havlat emerges from the sideboards and goes right to the front before getting a shot off that Quick stops with the handle of his canoe paddle.
18:11 - What did Mittens do to anger the hockey gods? He takes a great centering feed from Schultz and puts yet another quick shot right off the post. I don't know officially how many posts he has hit in the last two weeks, but he is snake bit right now.15:37 - MIN 1 - LAK 0 - Snipe! And I don't mean the bird from the movie, "Up." Havlat streaks up the right side with several Kings in pursuit. As he gets to the top of the right circle, he lets an absolute missile of a snap shot go and he banks it right off the corner of the crossbar and post and bounces in. Even the normally reserved Havlat looks pumped at the shot he just smoked past the blocker of Quick.
9:17 - Another fantastic shift by Havlat's line as they work the puck around and get two scoring chances for Guillaume Latendresse
. The first is a shot that is stopped by Quick in the butterfly position, and the second is from in tight on a backhand that just misses wide. 8:24 - MIN 1 - LAK 1 - Nik Backstrom doesn't get to angry with the refs very often, so when he does, he probably has an argument. Backstrom makes a huge pad save on a shot from the slot by Brad Richardson. The rebound comes right to Drew Doughty in front. As he falls to the ice, Doughty gets a stick on the puck, but he also pushes Backstrom's leg pad out of the way with his skate before the puck reaches the crease. The play is under review, and the refereee says "the puck entered the net correctly." That wasn't the argument. The argument was whether or not Backstrom was interfered with, and he was.
6:13 - The local football program is now in overtime with the ball after the opposing team missed an easy field goal. I still say reading your computer is more exciting than watching overtime football, which contains the excitement of passing a kidney stone.5:00 - MIN 2 - LAK 1 - Are you kidding me Bruno? How does he do that? The Wild power play gets off the schneid thanks to an unbelievable pass from Brunette. Planted in front of Quick with his back to the goal, Bruno takes a centering feed from Koivu, and instantly throws a no-look pass to the opposite side for a pinching Kim Johnsson, who equals his highest total for goals in a Wild uniform at four. That is vintage Brunette. You're telling me Team Canada couldn't use a guy like him to set up the likes of Jarome Iginla or Vinny Lecavalier? You're nuts, I tell you.
1:02 - MIN 3 - LAK 1 - Count it! The Wild builds its lead up to two goals as Nolan connects with former King Eric Belanger. Though not as pretty as Brunette's pass, Cowboy's feed from behind the net is just as effective. He flings one in front about two feet off the ground to Bella at the top of the crease. He lets the puck hit his shin pads to settle the puck, and then he just slams it in. Period 3
18:46 - Very underrated play here by Kyle Brodziak
, while killing a penalty. Brown looks to have a clean shot at an open net off a centering feed, but Brodziak gets low in his own zone and poke checks the puck away before Brown can connect.17:32 - MIN 3 - LAK 2 - The Kings power play connects because that's just the way this season has gone. Nothing comes easy. Shattuck St. Mary's product Jack Johnson lets a slapper go from the point, and it hits off of Johnsson and deflects past Backstrom. Nothing Backstrom can do on this one, and once again, we get to chew on our cuticles.
15:15 - Wild PR guru Aaron Sickman, who is with the team in California, says there is a sellout crowd at STAPLES Center tonight, and it's the first he's seen at that arena. That's good to see. This Kings team is very talented and it would be great for the League if L.A. can re-establish itself as a power...after tonight, and Thursday's game.
11:18 - The Wild needs to step it up as the Kings are carrying the play while Minnesota appears to be sitting back and trying to cling to the lead. Right now, L.A. holds a 7-0 shots advantage in the third period.
10:18 - Miettinen must feel like Boogaard right now, wondering if that next goal is ever going to come. He is sprung on a lone breakaway, which he excels at. But not on this one. He makes a quick move to his backhand, but Quick stays with him and sticks the right leg pillow out there to make a huge stop. Mittens might need to start putting his left skate on first instead of his right.2:37 - MIN 3 - LAK 3 - The Wild had stepped up their energy in recent minutes, but the Kings stay with it and finally get the equalizer off the stick of former Nebraska Omaha Maverick, Scott Parse. Just seconds after Parse missed a great chance from the slot, he jumps on a puck that hits traffic in front and whistles a shot past Backstrom to square this thing up.
2:25 - MIN 4 - LAK 3 - How about this for an answer? Just 12 seconds later, off the ensuing faceoff, Cal Clutterbuck (whose had an unusually quiet night despite an assist earlier) works the puck up to Belanger. Bella gains the zone and he shows off that cannon slapper that he's perfected and spots it just under the crossbar on the far side. That quiets the sellout crowd in a hurry.
0:00 - Another yooooge win for the Wild! That's three straight victories for the good guys, and a big win against a very skilled team on the road.