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What's the haps State of Hockey legion? Wait, wait. Let me guess. You're in the midst of celebrating General Pulaski Memorial Day, am I right? I mean the guy was a Polish hero in the American Revolution, and he after his death at the Siege of Savannah, his legend has continued to grow. I'm just sad that Gen. Pulaski is not still alive today, because he really would have enjoyed live in-game commentary on Wild.com, just like you.
I am coming to you live from the Brian "Smitty" Smith press box inside Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, and I'm intently watching pregame warmups. I'm just trying to fit in with the fans here in Canada's capital, because they are paying very close attention to the Wild warmups. They're even booing now and then, and for the life of me I can't figure out why. What did we ever do to them, other than light one of their equipment trucks on fire? We paid you back with two points in the standings, Ottawa. Get off our backs for crying out loud!
Speaking of backs, our boy Niklas "Backs" Backstrom is about to put the Wild on his back like Kirby Puckett and guide this team to a win over the Ottawa Senators for the first time since 2004. He'll be making his third straight start for the season, and he's been impeccable thus far in pregame warmups. Every puck fired at him is ending up in the corner. Get used to seeing that, Ottawa.
The Wild will once again be without the services of Mike Lundin
(back), who is home in Minny, cheering on his teammates as he reads this in-game commentary (what up Mike?). The Wild will also be without Brad Staubitz and Pierre-Marc "The Butcher" Bouchard, who are both serving the final game of their respective suspensions. I'm fine with Staubitz coming back on Thursday, but I'm worried about Bouchard getting back on the ice. The man is a menace. It's like the return of Ogie Oglethorpe when that thug gets on the ice.
As for the attire tonight, the Wild will go with the road whites tonight. The Sens will don the home reds trimmed in black, white and gold with the menacing guy in the headdress on the chest.
It's the home opener tonight, and the Senators are paying homage to their inaugural team from 1992-93. There are 14 players from that team here tonight, including former UMD Bulldog, Norm MacIver.
Now that the festivities are over and I've got the chills from tonight's rendition of the Canadian Anthem by Lyndon Siweidge, we can get down to brass tacks.Period 1
20:00 - Did you know that Dany Heatley
sucks? I didn't know that either, but that's what the people in this arena tonight would have you believe.
19:42 - The Wild are going to start this on e a man down as Guillaume Latendresse
gets called for hooking on one of the weakest calls you're going to see all season. Should be a fun night if calls like this are made for 60 minutes.
16:52 - The Wild gets its first sustained pressure in the Ottawa zone with Mikko Koivu
getting the puck in the right circle. He's got Heatley in front, but he moves toward the slot and fires a heavy wrister that Craig Anderson absorbs.
14:35 - Brett Bulmer
is fun to watch. He seems like such a quiet kid, but he definitely talks a lot on the ice. He's currently out there jawing with former Merrimack Warrior, Stephane Da Costa, the prize of last year's college free agent crop.11:19 - MIN 1 - OTT 0 - There it is Brodzy! Kyle Brodziak has had so many chances that have been stolen from him over two games. He finally gets one to go for his first of the year. Clayton Stoner winds and fires from the point and Brodziak gets his stick on it for a perfect deflection, sending the puck bouncing to the far side and just inside the post.
10:21 - Here we go with the first fight of the year. Matt Kassian
and Zenon Konopka have the gloves off in the Ottawa zone and here we go. Immediately, they get tangled up and close range, but Kassian is able to land a flurry of blows from in tight. Konopka is really just trying to survive, which is funny because he started it, and he's going to get an extra two and a 10 for instigating the whole thing.
6:57 - This crowd was just about to get very upset. After Marek Zidlcky threw a bad angle shot on net and Anderson kicked it out into the high slot, Heatley steps into one and just whistles it past an open net.
2:39 - Heatley gets loose in the slot again and Brodziak finds him with a pass. He wires a low one-timer through traffic and Anderson gets a skate on it in the lower corner.
1:20 - Bulmer again does the dirty work. He lays some hits on some Senators, who don't like it. And eventually Jason Spezza takes a whack at Bulmer. That gets called. Chris Neil starts going after Bulmer, but the kid is no idiot. He's happy to take the Wild power play.0:48.7 - MIN 2 - OTT 0 - He wasn't on the ice, but credit Bulmer with an assist. The Wild power play wastes little time in taking advantage. Heatley works the puck low to Koivu, and he quickly finds Devin Setoguchi in the high slot. He shows off that wicked release of his and launches it past the glove of Anderson and into the upper corner. This sold out crowd is now extremely quiet.
0:00 - A great period ends for the Wild. After weathering the expected early onslaught, the Wild gets in the zone and pumps two in there for the lead. Time for some rehydration, and then more of the same.Period 2
20:00 - My intermission was a lot less entertaining that it was last time I was in Ottawa when I got to look across the arena and see Carrie Underwood in a suite.
18:24 - Heatley is getting the business from Chris Neil as the two line up across from each other on a faceoff in the Wild zone. The crowd likes it, but Heatley seems to be enjoying it as well. He's not shying away from Neil in the least.
17:13 - Zidlicky makes a home run pass to Brodziak behind the D, and he's in alone on Anderson. Brodziak looks like he's expecting a whistle for offsides, and that may be why he releases a shot a little too early and puts it over the cage.
16:24 - Neil gets xome huge cheers this time as he absolutely lays out Stoner an instant after he clears the puck from behind his own net. Stoner doesn't get knocked down that often, but this one is a bell ringer. He looks a little shaken, but seems to be just fine.
13:35 - Scotiabank Place has the Molson Canadian Thirst Cam in which people in the crowd slam beers on camera. Canadians might be nuts, or they just might be flipping geniuses.11:43 - MIN 2 - OTT 1 - The Sens are on the board, and this crowd is suddenly boisterous again. This one is all Nick Foligno, who originally sets up the play by feeding Neil down low. He tries to put one in from in tight, but can't get it by Backstrom. Foligno follows up the play, grabs the rebound and stuffs it in. The Sens have had the decided advantage in this period, no question. Let's hope this jolts the boys in white a little bit.
9:23 - Kassian wants Neil, but the Sens tough guy knows his team has the momentum and he's causing all kinds of problems right now. No way he's willing to go to the box for five minutes, but you can't blame the Kassassin for trying.
4:49 - I'm not sure if Heatley is still the most hated player in the building anymore. It might be Sergei Gonchar, who just carried the puck in offside, and has not had a strong game for the Senators.
1:34 - Cal Clutterbuck
is making a point to give Milan Michalek a piece of his mind. He was furious that Michalek tried to duck a hit along the boards by turning his back to him. That's a legitimate gripe, because Clutterbuck could be looking at a suspension for that.
0:00 - That was a long period, and not a great one for the good guys. This intermission is coming at the right time.Period 3
19:06 - Neil plants Heatley on the ice in the neutral zone and this crowd cheers louder than they did for Foligno's goal. Someone has to give Neil the business. 18:04 - MIN 3 - OTT 1 - Count it! Count it! Nick Johnson muscles his way to the net and tries to stuff one in. Anderson stops it, but the bodies in the crease force Anderson and the puck to slide back toward the goal line. The puck just slides over before getting whacked away by an Ottawa stick. The red light never comes on, so they go upstairs for a review, which confirms the goal that the ref signaled. That's the first in a Wild sweater for Johnson, and it's a biggie as the Wild pads the lead.13:47 - MIN 3 - OTT 2 - Now we've got mayhem. The Sens think they've got a goal here, and they do. Neil finds a loose puck in the slot and puts it up top in the far corner. The red light comes on, but the refs don't blow the whistle and play goes on. That starts an absolute brouhaha in the Wild creae with everybody pairing off, and some guys tag teaming others. Clutterbuck has two guys wrestling with him, and one of them is Neil. Things finally get sorted out, and the review is next. The goal counts.
11:38 - MIN 3 - OTT 3 - Ugh. The Senators power play clicks and we're tied. Spezza nearly ties it with a one-timer off the post, but just seconds later, former Cornell Big Red Colin Greening wins a battle in front and punches in a loose puck. The place is officially a circus in here and Big Mo is on the side of the guys in red.
9:17 - The Koivu line wants to end this nonsense right now. The puck is worked down to Setoguchi at the side of the net. Without hesitation, he goes right to the front and nearly jams it in.
7:50 - Spezza gets shoved into Backstrom and the Wild netminder goes down hard. He's down for a few seconds, but by the time Doc Fuller is escorted to him, he's up and moving around just fine.
6:55 - Heatley is getting time and space to carry all the way into the Ottawa zone, but he can't find the corners. He zips another shot up high that misses.
5:43 - Now we're going back and forth. The Wild gets the next golden chance as Latendresse is given a lane to the net. He tries to tuck one five hole but is denied. Cullen is battling in front to try and punch it in, but he can't find the back of the net either.
4:35 - Colton Gillies, who has been very good tonight, nearly puts the Wild back on top. He finds a loose puck in the slot and quickly fires a low screamer. Anderson makes one of his best stops tonight, flashing the leg pillow and covering up the rebound.
2:16 - I have no idea how the Wild is not up a goal right now. Gillies makes a steal deep in Ottawa territory and basically has a two-on-oh with Clutterbuck. Gillies drops it back, but Clutter fans on the open net, and the puck is kicked right underneath Anderson, who is laying on his back.
0:30.7 - The Wild catches a break as Setoguchi ices the puck, but he's hit into the boards as he does and one of the seams in the glass falls to the ice. That will give the guys a break as they were at the end of a long shift.
0:00 - We're headed to overtime. The Wild bags at least one point. They'll look for another in OT.Overtime
2:42 - Not a lot of action midway through the OT, other than a lot of neutral zone play where few goals are scored. Plenty of whistles though, if that's what you're into.
1:28 - I might have to re-learn the offsides rule. There have been about 10 offsides calls that I thought were ridiculous tonight. This is one of them.
0:00 - And now we're going to settle this one in a shootout. We could really use Butch right now. Or Petteri Nummelin.ShootoutThe Sens will go first, and Michalek will start. He makes a move to the backhand and roofs it for the early lead.
Koivu will look for the equalizer. He tries the backhand move but misses the mark.Spezza can put the Wild behind the 8-ball, and he does, sniping one through the five-hole.
It's up to Cullen to keep this thing alive. He does, tucking one stick side.
Daniel Alfredsson now has the game on his stick, and he ends it with a quick shot over Backstrom's glove. The two points go to the Senators.