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Wake up y'all in the State of Hockey legion. It might be closing in on Nightly News time and you might be in your footie pajamas and night cap, but the night is just beginning. As Wild fans, you
shouldn't be new to the drill when the Wild plays a roadie on the West Coast. The games are late, which means you should have knocked off work a couple hours early today so you could crush a nap and rest up. I mean, just check out my dog, Ivy, who is "resting her eyes" right up to puck drop so she can run around like a banshee when Jed Ortmeyer
scores his first-ever goal in a Wild sweater. She might look a little drowsy, but that's just her getting focused and soaking up every bit of info that Pierre-Marc Bouchard
is sharing with Kevin Gorg on the Qwest Wild Live pregame show.
Your (and Ivy's) Minnesota Wild are in a vicious fight for the playoffs with about 13 other teams. It's kind of like one of those old WWF wrestling matches where they throw 20 guys into the ring at once and they all go at it. Well, tonight, the Wild is pairing off near the turnbuckle with those dirty Los Angeles Kings. Tonight's game has a late start, because it's in California, also known as the Sunshine State where the bombest hits be. It's a place where you'll never find a dance floor empty.
But it's also where you can currently find Niklas Backstrom
turning away warmup shots from his teammates with ease and swagger. Backstrom is your starting goaltender tonight, which only makes sense, because he's about the greatest goaltender on the face of the earth right now. Tomorrow, he'll get the night off to let Jose Theodore show his stuff. Hey, even Superman needed a rest every now and then so he could put on a pair of specs and hit on Lois Lane.
Tonight will be a challenge, because as you probably know, there are some injury issues plaguing the boys. Mikko Koivu
(hand) and Kyle Brodziak
(illness) are both out of the lineup tonight. Guillaume Latendresse
(abdominal) and James Sheppard (knee) are both with the team right now, but neither will participate tonight. That means we'll see the Wild debut of Ortmeyer, which I predict will be quite memorable. Elk River's Nate Prosser
will be the only healthy scratch tonight.
If you're into fashion, which I'm sure you are, you'll be happy to know the Wild are sporting the road whites for this one. You may be even happier to know that the Kings are breaking out the old school home purples trimmed in yellow with the bejeweled crown on the chest to honor Kings legend Bob Berry.
The ceremony to honor Berry is prolonging the start even more, so you know what to do. Mix a two-liter of Coke with two bottles of Five Hour Energy, a ground up No Doze pill and four cans of Jolt cola and start chugging. We need you alert tonight because sole possession of fifth place is on the line. Let's do the darn thing.Period 1
18:58 - The Wild has some good jump early as Martin Havlat makes a pretty cross rink feed over to Pierre-Marc Bouchard
in the low right circle. Bouchard wants to one-time it, but he has to settle the puck down and that allows Jonathan Bernier to get over and sponge up Butchie's wrister.
16:14 - After a Dustin Brown slash on Greg Zanon, there are some words after the whistle between Clayton Stoner
and Willie Mitchell. I'll take my chances with Stoner if those two ever come to blows.
14:07 - Minnesota doesn't look like the shorthanded team tonight. They are buzzing around the Kings end at the end of a power play. After nearly connecting on a shallow angle shot, John Madden gets the puck in behind the LA net and feeds out front to Antti Miettinen, who is denied on the doorstep by Bernier.
10:46 - Look out! Miettinen winds up and connects on a rolling puck, sending a high shot that hits former Michigan Wolverine Jack Johnson somewhere near the throat. Johnson looks a bit stunned, but he keeps playing.
10:16 - After a Backstrom save, Wayne Simmonds barrels his way into the crease, making heavy contact with Marek Zidlicky. That brings everybody in for a mini fracas as emotions are sure to run high in this pivotal contest.
8:41 - Cal Clutterbuck
very nearly scores on one of his patented horrible angle wrist shots. From the sideboards, Clutter surprises Bernier with a high rising shot toward the upper corner, but the Kings keeper gets enough of it to knock it into the corner. 6:35 - MIN 0 - LAK 1 - The Wild is already killing a penalty and they're about to take another on a delayed highsticking call on Marek Zidlicky. But the puck is worked to the high slot where Simmonds unleashes a rocket of a wrist shot that beats Backstrom on the blocker side and rattles in off the post. Rather than celebrating, the Kings are angry and there is another skirmish behind the net. Not only will the Kings get the goal, but they'll go back on the power play as Brent Burns comes out of the box and Zidlicky heads in.
1:11 - Jarret Stoll sends a harmless looking shot from the right circle, and he catches a rolling puck as he shoots it. The fluttering puck seems to fool Backstrom as it eludes him and clips off the crossbar. Dan Terhaar and Mike Greenlay are talking about how much that puck is bouncing on the ice out there and it really does appear to be slushy on that ice surface.
0:00 - The first 20 comes to a close with the Kings holding a slight advantage. There was plenty of fight in the Wild during that first stanza and I see no reason why they won't build on that in the second period. I will see you then.Period 2
19:48 - The Wild's top line gets right to work as Andrew Brunette maneuvers behind the Kings net and finds Miettinen in front. He gets a quick shot off but Bernier flashes the left leg pillow for a huge save.
18:56 - The Kings come right back the other way and it's Brown causing problems once again. He's able to split the D and get in on Backstrom, getting a shot off from in tight while being hooked. Anze Kopitar crashes into Backstrom shortly after, but it's going to be the Wild going on the penalty kill again after a hook on Brown by Stoner.
16:54 - At the end of the power play, Drew Doughty unloads a rocket shot that hits traffic in front. The disc ends up on the stick of Justin Williams who has a wide open net to shoot at, but by the time he gets the shot off, Backstrom dives in like Nick Punto into first base and makes the save.15:57 - MIN 1 - LAK 1 - Eric Nystrom has so much confidence in his God-given abilities after scoring last week, he's now just showing off and scoring with one hand. From the corner, the current fourth line center muscles his way between two defenders to get to the front of the net. Without using that second hand, he just pokes the puck between the legs of Bernier to stun the Kings and their fans.
13:23 - There is no shortage of action so far. This time it's the Kings turn as Johnson unloads a howitzer through traffic that clanks off the post.
12:50 - Now it's the Wild's turn as Bouchard threads a perfect pass to Brent Burns cutting through the back door. Burnie tries to put a move on Bernier, but the netminder is up to this task and makes a big save. My head is starting to spin at this point, and as for Ivy, she's frothing at the mouth with all of this intensity.9:42 - MIN 1 - LAK 2 - The Wild doesn't seem to have an answer to that Simmonds wrister. Once again, he gets loose in the high slot and lets a wrister go from the same spot to the same spot - high blocker side. He puts this one off the post again, and the Kings constant pressure finally results in a goal.
4:54 - The momentum has shifted back in the Wild's favor and it's the fourth line that is having its way with the puck in the Kings zone. Madden, Burns and Cody Almond
all have great chances and finally Bernier puts an end to the madness by scooping up a loose puck near the side of his cage.
0:34.3 - The Wild continues to pepper Bernier, and it's the young hot shot Spurgeon getting a great chance as Bouchard finds him pinching in low. Spurge can't get great wood on his point blank shot, but he does put one on goal and Bernier has to be quick to slap it away with the waffle glove.
0:09.4 - As Havlat flips the puck out of his own zone, Brown goes after him hard in the corner and starts facewashing him. Havlat isn't having any of it and he starts giving it right back to Brown. The Wild is going to get a power play, after an interference call on Doughty.0:04.9 - MIN 2 - LAK 2 - Great googly moogly! When it looks like the Wild is going to start the third period with the man advantage, Burns puts a stop to that idea. Matt Cullen wins the faceoff in the Kings zone back to Burns, who skates up and goes deep into the zone. Without warning, he lets a wrist shot go through traffic that beats Bernier on the blocker side for an absolutely gargantuan goal before the intermission. That equals Burnie's career high of 15, which is also the team record for goals in a season by a defenseman. Man! This Wild squad does not quit. Unbelievable. Period 3
16:30 - I bet you didn't know that Taylor Swift is a huge Wild fan. She's currently at STAPLES Center watching her favorite team take on the Kings. She's there with Chord Overstreet, who of course you know from the hit show, iCarly. They obviously found a commonality in their love of Minnesota hockey. Apparently, this is their first time out in public, and somewhere Jake Gyllenhaal is in agony. 15:21 - MIN 2 - LAK 3 - This one hurts, but I'm willing to bet right now that the Wild will come back from it. The Kings enter the zone and Brown makes a perfect feed into the slot where Doughty is joining the play. The stud defenseman makes it look easy by one-timing the shot past Backstrom. Miss Swift has to be shedding teardrops on her guitar after seeing that.
11:52 - Backstrom's ears have to be ringing right now because there's been more clanking behind him than at a construction site. The Kings hit their third post as Kopitar rifles a shot on the short side and chips the red paint on the iron.
10:40 - Miettinen is going to put one of these in, but right now he can't pull the trigger. Brunette has Bernier coming out to challenge him, so he throws a pass over to an open Mittens, but the puck hits the skate of former Wisconsin Badger Davis Drewiske and bounces out of harm's way.
8:19 - We are now into Friday here in Minnesota. Good things always happen on Fridays.
7:30 - I don't mind seeing the puck end up on the stick of Havlat at this critical juncture. A Madden shot deflects right over to Marty on the right side and he gets a quick backhand off but Bernier gloves that one. The Wild will be going on the power play.
4:44 - A Backstrom stop on Simmonds' bid for a hat trick leads to another skirmish in front. The scary part of this is Havlat skated down toward the group and Marco Sturm's stick ends up clipping him in the face and cutting him right below the eye. He appears to be just fine.
1:59 - Well here we go. Ryan Smyth hooks Madden to the ice, and the Wild will be able to put their best offensive unit out there and then some when Backstrom is pulled for an extra attacker. Call me Fergie because I've got a feeling right now.
1:27 - Wild timeout, and Backstrom is coming off for an extra attacker.1:14 - MIN 2 - LAK 4 - Kopitar is a marksman. Nobody can gain control of the puck off a faceoff in the Kings zone, and Kopitar finally picks it up and sends a wrister the length of the ice and into the heart of the empty net. There's the one drawback to having a power play in the final minute. That's tough to watch.
0:00 - That's going to do it. The Wild misses a chance to move up in the standings, but they won't move down far. The boys are now in an unbelievable five-team tie for sixth place in the West. As you can see, Ivy is distraught at the outcome of this one.