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Good evening State of Hockey legion! You are looking well, as per usual. Welcome to another edition of live in-game commentary from my Como Park, St. Paul palace, where you are always welcome. Help yourself to any food or drink you can find and there should be some pillows and blankets in the storage closet if you feel the need to stay the night. Don't feel like you need to pay me or do some chores around the house. I just ask for one thing.
First, get that big heart of yours pumping in double time tonight because your Minnesota Wild is taking on the New York Islanders, and things are going to get intense. There's a very good chance you are going to be bent over with your hands on your knees and breathing heavily after this one. Second, keep coming back to Wild.com over this next month so we can get some more hits. And third, and maybe most importantly, since this game is starting during dinnertime, you might be on a date. If you're date is attempting to talk to you, try to avoid sneaking peeks at your computer for in-game commentary updates. It's just plain rude, and he'll probably get offended.
In fact, a better word would be jilted, and then he'll know what it's like to be a New York Islander fan tonight around 8:30 central time. As they file out of Nassau Coliseum, those folks will be cursing Niklas Backstrom
's name under their breath while simultaneously giving someone the finger. It's the New York way. But Backstrom isn't trying to make people feel bad. It's just that he has to pitch another shutout, and the NHL schedule makers have decided it's going to come tonight. So blame them.
As for the injury front, the Wild is still missing some bodies; namely Mikko Koivu
(hand), Cam Barker (upper body), Guillaume Latendresse
(abdominal) and Chuck Kobasew (illness). That means recently recalled Jed Ortmeyer
will jump into the lineup, and will set up Eric Nystrom's game-winner tonight.
As for the threads, the Wild is breaking out the road whites for this one. The Islanders are going with the home blues trimmed in orange and white with the map of Long Island on the chest.
It looks like Roseanne
is over, so let's do some of this hockey thing.Period 1
18:25 - The Wild catches a break early as former Cornell Big Red Matt Moulson sends a pass down to the front of the net for former first overall pick, John Tavares. He catches the pass right in front of Backstrom and then throws a quick backhand to the far side, but he puts it off the inside of the post.
14:39 - We've hardly had any whistles thus far, but we finally get one here as Backstrom comes out perfectly to sponge up a blast off the stick of Bruno Gervais, who I thought was exceptional when he hosted the Golden Globe Awards.
12:15 - Can anybody pull off a heavy handlebar mustache like Cal Clutterbuck
? He looks like David Starsky in disguise at a biker bar right now, which only means he's going to punish more Islanders with hits. Take it from somebody who knows, the last thing you want to see after someone rocks your world is a guy staring back at you with a handlebar mustache.
9:44 - These Islanders are not to be taken lightly. They are flying around right now and show a nice passing display here as "Hans and" Frans Nielsen sends a dish behind the Wild defense to Blake Comeau cutting to the net. Fortunately, Backstrom is able to read the play expertly and he stones Comeau on the doorstep. 9:29 - MIN 0 - NYI 1 - The Islanders to light the lamp, and this time Comeau doesn't miss. At the end of a power play Nielsen again bears in on goal and he's got Comeau wide open on his left. The pass is sent, the shot is fired and the score is 1-0. Let's hope this is the alarm that wakes the Wild up, because the boys have been hitting the snooze button for the first 10 minutes.
7:28 - This is more like it. It won't go for a goal, but the offense shows some pizazz on the power play. Martin Havlat sends the puck to Kyle Brodziak
at the side of the net. Brodzy quickly sends a beautiful no-look backhand pass to Pierre-Marc Bouchard
for a one-timer from in tight. Only an amazing glove save by former Michigan Wolverine Al Montoya keeps it out.
3:13 - Josh Bailey leads another odd-man rush for the Islanders. He's got plenty of room to coast in on Backstrom and pick his spot with a low shot to the far side. Backstrom has to be lightning quick to make a spectacular kick save. He kicks the puck into a pair of bodies at the side of the crease, and it just sits there for a bit until Backy can lunge back and fall on top of it. 1:23 - MIN 0 - NYI 2 - Doh! Forget the alarm clock. There might be some police sirens and fire alarms blaring in the Wild locker room at intermission. The Isles jump out to a two-goal lead as Michael Grabner gets the puck down to Kyle Okposo battling in front. The former Minnesota Gopher makes a sick play with his back to the net by tucking a quick backhand between his own legs and the pads of Backstrom. Suddenly the deficit is two, and the Wild will need to recharge quickly.
0:00 - The first period is over and it can now be forgotten. The Wild will have some work to do coming out of the break, but right now the boys just need to get reassembled and rehydrated.Period 2
19:19 - MIN 0 - NYI 3 - Mercy. Instead of the Wild coming out with desperation, it's the Islanders looking to shove the dagger into the guy. Once again, they fly into the Wild zone on an odd-man rush. From the left side, Matt Martin unloads a slap shot on goal. Backstrom makes that stop, but the rebound pops out to Comeau who chips a little sand wedge flop shot that floats over the Wild keeper and in. That's going to be the end of Backstrom's night. He gets the rare hook as Jose Theodore hops over the boards to take over.
17:37 - After Clutterbuck hits Tavares from behind, Trevor Gillies comes in and looks to build on his reputation as the biggest goon in the League. He slams his glove into Clutterbuck's head and into the glass. Clutterbuck goes down in a heap, and Gillies, who is just coming off a nine-game suspension from his despicable acts against Pittsburgh a couple weeks ago, is sent right to the locker room. Clutterbuck appears to be okay, and he'll head to the box for a deserved boarding penalty.
16:42 - The Islanders won't quit. In fact, they are stepping up the pressure. Tavares gains the Wild zone and then cuts to the middle where he fires a wicked wrist shot that beats Theodore and clanks off the post. This thing hits so hard that it bounces way back out to the blue line.
12:50 - It's just chance after chance for the Islanders as nothing is working for the Wild thus far. Killing a penalty, Nielsen slaps at the puck from his own zone and springs Grabner for a clean break on Theodore. The puck is bouncing quite a bit, and that limits Grabner's options and allows Theo to come up with a save.
10:54 - The Wild gets some pressure generated down low, and Matt Cullen
has a great chance from the bottom of the left circle. He tries to go upstairs with it, but Montoya gets the waffle glove up quickly and takes away the top shelf.
4:38 - Another blue wave flooding the Wild zone and this time it's P.A. Parenteau throwing a pass to the front for Moulson, who makes a perfect tip, but can't get it past the dragging pad of Theodore who is sliding the other way. 3:55 - MIN 0 - NYI 4 - This is really the third worst team in the League? They look pretty dominant to me. On a power play, the puck is worked to Andrew MacDonald on the left point. He winds and fires a shot toward the goal and Theodore can't see it through the screen set by Bailey. This just doesn't seem right.
0:58 - The spark we need? Let's hope so. Clutterbuck lights up Justin DiBenedetto in front of the benches with a huge, but clean hit. Zenon Konopka steps in and drills Clutter, and Brad Staubitz has seen enough. He drops the gloves and goes at it with Konopka, and when I say "goes at it," I mean he's throwing about 50 punches and landing at least half of them. Konopka is no wuss, but he's just holding on for dear life at this point. All right, let's start picking up some goals now. Period 3
20:00 - All right. Plenty of time left. We just need one, and then we'll build from there. Brick by brick, friends.
17:00 - Todd Richards has to go with all kinds of variations to his lineup. The Wild is playing a man short with Andrew Brunette not coming out for the third. He may have been shaken up on a hip check by former Colorado College Tiger, Jack Hillen. It sounds like he may have taken a puck or stick up near the mouth, but he is expected to be just fine.
12:58 - Montoya could be very busy for the remainder of this one, but thus far he's handling it well. Brent Burns unloads a rocket shot from the top of the circles. Montoya comes up with a pretty glove save.
12:01 - The Isles goalie comes up big again as Bouchard dangles behind the net and then sends a quick pass to the front where a pinching Jared Spurgeon
has a golden chance. From deep in his net, Montoya again is up to the task.8:27 - MIN 1 - NYI 4 - There's one. Now we can worry about the next one as Havlat gets the puck down to Bouchard on the right side of the net. Bouchard, who has been the Wild's best player tonight, quickly sends a feed to a wide open John Madden in front, and "Boom!" He easily taps one past the outstretched leg of Montoya.
1:02 - Marek Zidlicky uncorks a huge slap shot that quickly rises on its way to the net. Montoya comes out of his crouch to get in the way of it, but he takes it up near the shoulder area and immediately drops his stick in pain. After skating it off for a bit, he's going to stay in the game to earn the win.
0:00 - Print off this commentary and put it right in the recycle bin. Don't ever look at it again, no matter how much you might want to. But I promise you this, you'll want to be back here in 22 hours because the Wild is going to rebound in a big way.