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What's the haps State of Hockey legion? Welcome back to another edition of in-game commentary, coming to you live from the living room in my Como Park palace. It's been five days since I've been tapping the keys on an in-game commentary, and if I can be honest, it's been torture. I get all wound up when the Wild aren't playing, and sometimes I think I might chew my fingernails so hard I'll swallow the tips of my fingers. And I need
my fingers or else I can't pound out one of these bad boy commentaries during a Wild game.
Tonight, the Phoenix Coyotes are in the way of the Wild and their attempt to snap a five-game winless skid. Now I know the Yotes are riding high right now, and all anyone in Arizona can talk about is Coyotes this, Bryzgalov that. Those Phoenicians love
their hockey and they are going to be looking for blood when our Wild boys take the ice at Jobing.com Arena (I'm not making that name up by the way).
Unfortunately for those sun-baked hockey nuts, they're looking at a big fat "L" that they'll be thinking about all day tomorrow as they sit on an outdoor patio sipping a fruity cocktail. Visions of Nik Backstrom spitting out pucks from his equipment will haunt them for the foreseeable future. Don't worry folks, it's nothing that you did specifically. Nik just has problems with anyone that doesn't wear green and red, and you guys fall into that calendar what with your faces and bodies painted in brick red and white.
More bad news for Arizona hockey fans: the Wild has a nearly healthy roster tonight. Of course, Guillaume Latendresse
(hernia/hip) is out, but other than that it's looking good. Matt Cullen
is good to go after taking warmups despite a lower body injury. That means Brad Staubitz and Clayton Stoner
will be tonight's scratches.
Generally, the daily fashion in the high temps of Phoenix would be light, loose fitting clothing so you can remain comfortable. But because of NHL rules, both teams will be wearing their usual gameday attire. The Wild will be going with the road whites for this game. The Coyotes are sporting their black third jerseys with the galloping dog on the chest. Call me crazy, but those jerseys are among my favorites in the NHL.
That should do it for the ancillaries. Now if we can get this Luther Nissan Rapping Santa commercial over with, I can let Dan Terhaar and Mike Greenlay guide me on the quest for another winning commentary. Shall we?Period 1
19:42 - The Wild gets the first chance early with the top line out there. Behind the net, Andrew Brunette kicks the puck to an open Antti Miettinen right next to him. Mitts goes right to the net and tries to stuff one in, but Ilya Bryzgalov calmly stuffs him there.
13:48 - The Coyotes get their best chance as Radim Vrbata, the first-ever player to record a hat trick against the Wild, gets some space on the left side and goes to the net. His shot is stopped, and the rebound is right there for Ray Whitney, but Cam Barker alertly sticks it away at the last minute. 13:08 - MIN 1 - PHX 0 - In the immortal words of my favorite rap group, Tag Team, whoop there it is! The Wild jumps out to the early lead on another great play by the top line. They gain the zone when Mikko Koivu and Miettinen work a great give-and-go in the neutral zone. Koivu steams into the zone and slides a perfect pass over to Andrew Brunette cutting down the slot. He catches the pass and then lofts a perfect backhand over the glove of Bryz. That's the start you want to see on the road.
11:23 - As a long Phoenix shot sails wide, Backstrom is knocked to the ice by a net crashing Scottie Upshall. That is not going to please Backs, although he'll probably remain a little more even-keeled than former Wild keeper Dwayne Roloson would be.5:27 - MIN 1 - PHX 1 - These Coyotes are a pesky bunch. Right after a Wild power play expires, Oliver Ekman-Larsson races up the right side and continues toward the back of the Wild net. He spots Taylor Pyatt in front and hits him with a perfect pass that Pyatt converts from about five feet out. That starts the arena howl in Jobing.com arena that sounds eerily similar to the howl played at Timberwolves game. What is it? A coyote or a timberwolf? It cannot be both.
2:44 - The Wild dodges a bullet when former Wild Eric Belanger rifles a shot that Backstrom stops with his shoulder. The puck drops in front of him where Shane Doan chips it up and over the Wild keeper, but just catches the bottom of the crossbar and the puck bounds out of harm's way.0:54.4 - MIN 2 - PHX 1 - Brent Burns does not have head issues. He might be down a few teeth, but that doesn't stop him from scoring a big goal in the period's final minute. Miettinen, who already has one assist, gets the puck at the half wall in the Coyote zone. He patiently waits for Burnsy t pinch way down from the point and then hits big number 8 with a perfect centering feed. All Burns has to do is redirect it past Bryzgalov and he does easily.
0:00 - The horn sounds to end a first period that saw the Wild come out like gangbusters, and then respond beautifully to a Coyote goal. They'll enjoy the first intermission with a lead, and look to build on it after some brief bonding time.Period 2
19:06 - That Doan and Upshall duo are the proverbial thorns in the Wild's collective side. Doan gets the puck in the slot and cranks a shot hard off the glass. The puck bounces right to Upshall at the side of the net, and he misses a wide open cage with Backstrom lunging back head first and puts it off the side of the netting.
17:58 - Barker has come up big for the W's in front of his own net twice tonight. This time, Wojtek Wolski gets a shot off that Backstrom steers away with his pad. But the rebound comes right to Lauri Korpikoski in front, but his push toward an empty net is stopped by the skate of Barker.
12:13 - There's Butchie working his magic down low and making a perfect feed to the slot for Kyle Brodziak
. He puts a one-timer right on but Bryzgalov comes up with a superb glove save and strikes a bit of a pose just to get his point across.
4:52 - Backstrom looks as though he's shaken off his mini slump. Making it look effortless, he snaps a blast from Derek Morris with the lobster mitt and hangs on for a faceoff. This game has shifted from an up-and-down track meet to more of a 5k in the mud. But the Wild will take a staunch defensive effort on the road.
2:46 - Barker might be having his best game of the season tonight. After Brodziak wins a draw back to him, he just takes something off his shot and sends a low wrister toward the goal. That gives Bryzgalov all varieties of trouble, especially with Brodzy and Butch right there to whack away at the rebound. But they put the puck into his body and he holds on for a whistle.
2:02 - After Bryzgalov covers a puck up at the side of his net, Havlat looms over him looking for a rebound. After the whistle, Keith Yandle comes up from behind and grabs Marty by the face before pulling him down to the ice. I'm not sure that's legal. Period 3
17:40 - Double ouch! Not only does Patrick O'Sullivan get robbed by Bryzgalov after a great effort to win a battle in front and rifle a wrister on goal, but he also gets smoked in the face by the stick of former Dartmouth Big Green, Lee Stempniak. O'Sullivan is bleeding, but there won't be a call here.
15:55 - The Wild power play is out there for the second time tonight, and they work it around nicely before O'Sullivan gets another good chance from the slot. Once again, Bryzgalov comes up big with the leg pillow.
12:38 - Backstrom's mates have done a good job of keeping shots to the outside tonight, but even those can be dangerous. Ekman-Larsson fires a long, low shot from the high slot and somehow Backs makes the stop with Upshall standing right on top of him in the crease. That angers Nik, and now he's starting to look like Roly the Goalie as he barks at the refs.9:10 - MIN 3 - PHX 1 - Oh that is large! And Andrew Brunette is in charge. Carly Peters' pick for today's Fantasy Spotlight picks up his second of the night as the Wild cashes in on the power play. Bouchard works the puck back to the point for Marek Zidlicky. Again, he just gets the puck to the net where both Bruno and Mikko are battling out front. With the puck in midair, Bruno, the huge baseball fan, shows his skills and deflects it in out of midair. That's the Wild's first two-goal lead since its win over Nashville on Black Friday.
6:34 - Sick of being pestered by Coyotes, Backstrom covers up a puck and then slaps the stick of Martin Hanzal away as he skates by and gives the Wild keeper a quick jab. Despite getting dinged from blocking a shot, Zanon takes time to grab Hanzal and let him know that won't be tolerated.
4:12 - Backstrom looks a little stunned and nicked up after taking a high rocket by Yandle off the upper body. He gets back up, but gingerly.
2:05 - Barker is called for a questionable tripping call, and the Yotes are going to pull Bryzgalov to go six on four for as long as needed.0:58.7 - MIN 3 - PHX 2 - The extra attacker works here as the Yotes take complete control in the Wild zone before Yandle just wrists one toward the goal and Backstrom never sees it with Pyatt camped right in front. It will be a tenuous final minute of action.
0:00 - That's game! In the closing seconds, Zanon took a shot to the upper body and of course popped back up. And Havlat missed out on scoring a goal for the third straight game, but it matters not. The Wild gets a big win in Phoenix.