This page will automatically refresh every 60 seconds.
What's new and exciting State of Hockey legion? It's just me, your local live in-game commentary writer coming to you live from the Brian "Smitty" Smith Press Box at Corel Centre in Ottawa, Ontario. Not much new here if you discount the fact that half the team's gear went up in smoke yesterday, and three new players have gone down to the flu.
Amazingly, tonight's game between the Wild and Senators is on, and it wouldn't be possible if not for the Wild's equipment staff and trainers, who worked all night last night, and all day today, to get the healthy players ready for this one. Tony DaCosta, Travis Green, John Worley and Doc Fuller worked all night last night to clean the gear that survived, while Brent Proulx flew home last nght and returned this morning with Matt Benz, Chris Pietrzak-Wegner and a bundle of replacement gear for tonight's game. Now, about 28 hours after the blaze started, the Wild is skating around in pregame warmups and they don't look any different than they did two nights ago when they won their ninth game in 11 contests.
The Sens might think they have an advantage with their opponents breaking in new skates and gloves and shoulder pads. But, lest they forget, Niklas Backstrom
is still our starting goaltender and he'll maintain that icy demeanor whether he's got goalie pads or Good Housekeeping magazines taped to his legs. I'm watching him right now in warmups and he's making save after save like it's his job, which it is.
Probably more concerning than new equipment is the flu bug that is ravaging the team. Robbie Earl, Eric Belanger and Guillaume Latendresse
are all back at the team's hotel and will be flying back seperately tomorrow. Of course, Owen Nolan, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, Brent Burns and Petr Sykora are all back home already with their ailments. Andrew Ebbett will return from a concussion tonight. Lucky for the team, the in-game commentary writer is still healthy as a mule.
The Wild's sweaters were not harmed in the fire, so the road whites are in tact and on display tonight. The Senators will be wearing their home reds trimmed in black and white with the trojan casting a steely glare on the chest.
That's going to do it for the pregame mish mash. Now let's do this thing.Period 1
15:52 - Nik Backstrom can't break in his pads if he doesn't get any shots. It's the Wild who have generated offense so far as Andrew Brunette gets off a shot from in tight while being hauled down by Anton Volchenkov. Bruno draws the penalty and the Wild brings out the power play unit for the first time.
13:02 - The blocker works. Backstrom makes his first stop as former Wild All Star Filip Kuba cranks a shot from the point.
12:06 - The pads work too. Backstrom goes down into the butterfly to swallow up a quick shot from the right circle off the stick of the slumping Jonathan Cheechoo.
10:40 - Cal Clutterbuck
wins a tough battle for the puck behind the Ottawa net and he makes a quick feed to the front where Chuck Kobasew is denied on a nice save by Mike Brodeur, who is making his first NHL start tonight. No, he's not related to Marty Brodeur, but he will be linked to him if he ever starts 1,029 more games in the League.
6:19 - Alexei Kovalev lands a vicious elbow to the face of James Sheppard, who is not pleased and responds with a punch to the back of Kovalev's noggin. Kovalev is headed to the box and Minnesota will go on the power play for the third time tonight.
3:55 - Derek Boogaard makes an attempted pass from behind the net to Kyle Brodziak
, but it gets deflected by a skate and nearly bounces in off the back of Brodeur.1:55 - MIN 0 - OTT 1 - The Sens get on the board first as Volchenkov crushes a slapper that hits the shaft of Martin Havlat's stick and changes direction to fool Backstrom. We like these early deficits. The Wild is like Seabiscuit, letting the other horse take the lead for a bit before turning on the jets down the stretch. That would mean the Senators are War Admiral.
0:00 - That's going to do it for the first period. The shorthanded W's play a solid first, but a tough bounce has them down a goal with oodles of time remaining in this onePeriod 2
19:36 - MIN 0 - OTT 2 - Backstrom would like to have this one back. Milan Michalek enters the zone and sends a low wrister on goal. Backstrom goes down and gets a piece of it, but the puck squeaks through his pads and ends up in the net.
14:39 - I've got my first Carrie Underwood sighting of the night. She's sitting in a suite directly across from the press box. I'm 99% sure I saw her in the Corel Centre players parking lot today with her beau, Mike Fisher. I read in Us Weekly I believe that she's a huge fan of live in-game commentary on Wild.com, so Carrie, if you wouldn't mind shooting me an email to confirm that it was indeed you, that would be great.
6:44 - The Wild nearly gets on the board on a delayed penalty. Antti Miettinen gets the puck on the right side and calmly waits for Mikko Koivu
to get the net. He fires a pass toward the crease that Koivu deflects, but Brodeur makes a big stop and gets a whistle.
5:57 - The Wild looks to have a goal as some tape to tape passing leads to Bruno getting the puck on the doorstep with a lot of net to shoot at. He puts one off the pipe where it meets the crossbar, and actually raises his arms, thinking he's got it, but no. The puck bounces away and the Wild continues to search.2:10 - MIN 0 - OTT 3 - Is there anything worse than getting scored on by Jarkko Ruutu, one of the most annoying players in the game? Backstrom makes a spectacular glove save on Chris Kelly, but he can't hang onto it and the puck bounces free in the crease. Ruutu jumps in and punches it over a diving Backstrom and the deficit climbs to three.
1:36 - With their assists tonight, Fisher and Cheechoo both have reached the 300-point mark in their careers. Period 3
19:48 - Ouch! As he kneels down to play the puck with his hand, Greg Zanon takes a Daniel Alfredsson stick right to the face, and he is in pain. Zanon doesn't even break stride as he goes right to the bench with a glove over his eye, and he then makes his way to the locker room. Coming into the game, the Wild was a man short, and now the bench has a lot of space in between the rear ends of the players.17:05 - MIN 0 - OTT 4 - Apparently the Sens don't have any sympathy for a flu-ridden team with replacement equipment. They keep piling on as Erik Karlsson picks up his first NHL goal by firing a slapper from the point that squeezes through traffic and eludes Backstrom.
15:20 - MIN 1 - OTT 4 - There it is! The Wild gets on the board, and Clayton Stoner gets his first NHL point. Stoner slings a pass over to Nick Schultz who fires a slap shot toward the goal where Martin Havlat is standing, and the former Senator tips it past Brodeur and gives the road team some life.
6:27 - This Brodeur kid has a future. He makes by far his best stop of the night on Kyle Brodziak
. A shot from the point deflects right to a wide open Brodzy, who fires it right on from about 10 feet away, but Brodeur throws his right leg over there to make a stupendous stop with the leg pillow.
1:36 - And the best actor award goes to Ruutu, who ridiculously embellishes as he gets nudged in the crease by Stoner and then rolls around on the ice before skating off. Really Jarkko? You're up 4-1 with a minute and a half and you're trying to draw a weak penalty? Isn't this why the diving penalty was created?
0:00 - Tough night...no...tough two nights for the good guys. Time to board a flight home where the Wild will spend a full week and enjoy a holiday party tomorrow. That will actually be a skating party, so the boys will be able to break in their skates while spending quality time with the fam.