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Whaddya hear, whaddya say State of Hockey legion? Welcome to the first road edition of live in-game commentary of the 2011-12 season coming straight to you from Nassau Coliseum on the island of New York. First, I don't want to go any further without wishing a Happy Columbus Day to all of those who observe the holiday (or take the day off in other words). Now, live in-game commentary is about peace and love, so I don't want to start any kind of controversy about Chris Columbus and the fact that the guy may have been a Grade A jerk. Let's just all agree that the important thing about today is that we can watch some hockey over the lunch hour, and that's worth celebrating my friends. If you feel the need to take the rest of the afternoon off, I've got no issue with it.
I am coming to you live from the Coliseum Press Box amongst the flies that inhabit this area, and Long Island native Mike Russo. He likes this building. I mean, he really
likes this building. Almost too much. But I'll tell you why I
like this building, and that's because it's about to be the site of another Minnesota Wild victory in this early season. Today, the victims will be the New York Thugs, or Islanders as they are known to the locals like Russo. Sure, there will be some challenges today, what with the suspension of Pierre-Marc Bouchard
...excuse me while I cough here...cough...bull crap!...cough.
Excuse me. Thank you.
That's no need to get down, however. Niklas Backstrom
is getting the start once again today, and I got to see him doing his zombie walk in the bowels of the Coliseum today. When he's doing that walk, he's locked in and primed for a big performance like he gave us on Saturday. Expect no less today.
Again, Bouchard is out, as is Brad Staubitz who is also suspended for the next two games. Mike Lundin
(back) and Cody Almond
(back) are both out with injuries and not with the team on this trip. Justin Falk
is the only healthy scratch today. Big 'Ol Matt Kassian
is going to make his season debut today after coming off injured reserve, and not only that, but he's going to set up a Colton Gillies goal in the second period today.
Let's talk fashion. The Wild will break out the road whites for today's contest. The Islanders are
going with the home blues trimmed in orange and white with the map of Long Island on the chest.
It's Mascot Day today at Nasau, and there are about 12 furry friends down on the ice today, including our very own and beloved Nordy. Several other NHL teams are represented as well, but the best one is Quacker Jack, a huge duck representing the Long Island Ducks baseball team.
Now let's do this.Period 1
18:08 - The first great chance of the game goes to the Isles as Frans Nielsen uncorks a slapper from the point. Backstrom makes the save with his bread basket, but the puck squirts to the side of the net. Fortunately, Clayton Stoner
does an outstanding job of tying up his man, and that prevents an easy rebound opportunity.
15:51 - Now we have to look at every highsticking penalty as a possible suspension. Let's throw the book at PA Parenteau, who gets his stick up high on Clutterbuck. And Clutterbuck didn't even force Parenteau's stick to come up high so he should probably get about 20 games for this.
14:40 - Nobody ever mistook Backstrom for Ron Hextall when it comes to playing the puck. On a dump in, Backy gets the puck, skates with it a bit, then tries to dump it behind his own net, and he nearly backhands it in. This easily would have made SportsCenter's Not Top Ten Plays, you know, if they watched hockey in Bristol, Connecticut.
11:55 - Mikko Koivu
charges up the right side and lets a heavy wrist shot go. He nearly squeezes it between the arm and the body of Al Montoya, but the former Michigan Wolverine is able to hang on and thwart the Wild's first decent scoring chance.10:55 - MIN 0 - NYI 1 - Unfamiliar territory. The Wild trails for the first time this season as the Isles strike on their first power play. After a skate save by Backstrom, the Wild can't clear the zone. Andrew MacDonald has the puck come right to him, and he unleashes a slap shot off the post and in. That's actually the first goal of the season for the Isles, who where shut out by Jose Theodore and the Cats on Saturday.
8:15 - MIN 0 - NYI 2 - This has not been the desired start thus far. The Wild has come out flat and the Islanders are taking advantage. Islanders captain Mark Streit gets the puck at the point and then winds up. Instead of a shot, he puts the puck right on the tape of Nielsen at the side of the goal and he deflects it into the top shelf. My motions to rid the Wild of 1:00 starts continue to get ignored.
5:09 - The Islanders aren't letting up. Backstrom keeps this game close by coming up with a huge stop on former Cornell Big Red Matt Moulson. A pass from behind the net ends up on Moulson's stick right on top of the crease, but Backstrom is able to get over and sponge it up in his chest.
1:40 - Backstrom again comes up huge as John Tavares wins a faceoff in the Wild zone and then feeds a wide open Parenteau going to the net. He fires quickly but Backstrom gets just enough with the leg pillow to deflect the puck out of play.
0:00 - Some fireworks at the end of the first as Nick Johnson
gets into a bit of a scrap with everybody else joining in. There won't be any penalties resulting, but hopefully it provides a little spark heading into the second. That first period was not the best one I've seen from the good guys.Period 2
15:04 - The Wild's energy is markedly improved, despite it not resulting in anything on the scoreboard yet. However, there is some sustained pressure in the Islander zone and Wild players are starting to win puck battles.
12:21 - Some more buzzing by the Kyle Brodziak
line. Brodziak causes a turnover at the Islander blue line and he's got Colton Gillies streaking down the slot. The pass is stopped, but a trailing Clutterbuck has a chance and punches his shot wide.
11:18 - All the action in this game has taken place to my left this afternoon, and now that's a good thing. An attempted breakout pass is deflected nicely by Brett Bulmer
, causing the puck to hop right to Guillaume Latendresse
on the doorstep. He tries to punch one in, but Montoya is there for the stop.
9:27 - Setoguchi gets free on the left side and zips a wrister on goal that Montoya turns away. Heatley follows up on the rebound but pushes his shot just inches wide.
8:57 - Can anyone answer the question of why the Islander mascot is a dragon that goes by the name of Sparky?
6:40 - The Koivu line has come alive. Another near snipe by Seto is followed by a bear fight in front of the Islander net with both Koivu and Heatley getting cracks at a goal. They will light the lamp by the end of this frame. I think we can call that a given.
4:43 - Latendresse and Steve Staios are rabble rousing at the side of Montoya's net. They're getting their sticks up and jawing at each other something fierce. Both are going to get a couple minutes for this one.
3:32 - Cullen's hard work along the boards results in a tripping penalty on former Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Mark Eaton. The Wild will now have 49 seconds of four-on-three time.
2:40 - Marek Zidlicky carries behind the net and dishes out front for Heatley, who is again robbed by Montoya. Good things are starting to happen right now.
2:16 This would be another one of those good things. Former Boston College Eagle Marty Reasoner takes a penalty, and the Wild will have a two-man advantage for 44 seconds.
1:16 - Credit Montoya, who is on his game right now. A deflected puck bounces to Brodziak in the right circle. He steps into one, but Montoay gets over quickly and sponges up that shot. Many chances...zero goals.
0:00 - The second period ends, and there has to be a lot better feeling in the locker room than there was in the first. The Wild has come alive, and you're going to see a very interesting third period.Period 318:47 - MIN 1 - NYI 2 - And here we go! Chalk up the first NHL point for Bulmer, and chalk up a goal for the good guys, who are roaring back. Bulmer causes a turnover and then head mans the puck up to Latendresse in the neutral zone. G-Lat has a man on him, but he's able to drop a pass back to Cullen who floats an offspeed shot over the glove of Montoya. Matt Cullen has regained his spot on the top of all Wild goal scorers this season.
17:23 - Cullen carries behind his own net, and as he does, Blake Comeau drills Zidlicky into Cullen, causing a train wreck. Cullen is not pleased, but he can take solace in the Wild getting a power play out of this.
13:00 - It's safe to say that Cullen has found a home as the second line center this year. He's got the moves like Michael "Mick" Jagger right now. Gaining the zone, he dances between three
defenders and then drops a pass between his legs and back to Latendresse for a scoring chance. Montoya again is able to absorb that shot pegged for the five-hole.
10:27 - The Islander faithful don't like it, but Schultz makes an absolutley perfect defensive play as he catches up to Tavares on a partial break and plants him on the ice. Absolutely clean play as Schultz maneuvers and gets in front of him before putting him down.
10:04 - Tavares has had a rough shift. This time, Bulmer plasters him against the glass, which he does not like. Those two jab each other with sticks a couple times. Bulmer is good at irritating, and he shows that skill here.
9:15 - The comes just inches away from tying this thing up during a scramble in the crease. Nobody knows where the puck is as it sits just a puck's length away from the goal line. Nobody can put it in though, and now we've got some roughhousing. The equalizer has got to come shortly here. It has
6:37 - Heatley is known for his offense, but the man can play defense as well. He's a frickin' All Star! He makes a backcheck on Tavares look easy as he catches him from behind and strips the puck just before the kid can fire a shot off from in tight.
1:35 - Backstrom is off for another attacker.
1:04 - The Wild can't clear the zone, and the Isles can't put the game away.
0:00 - That's going to do it. Despite a great team effort for the final 40 minutes, the Wild has its dreams of an undefeated season dashed by the Islanders. Duplicate those efforts from the last two periods tomorrow, and we're back over .500.