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Howdy y'all in the State of Hockey legion! Welcome to a very special of live in-game commentary on the family friendly website you know and love as Wild.com. I am coming to you live from the Kielback Press Box inside Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Arizona. You better believe they still love their hockey here in the desert, and like the folks back in Minnesota, they also love things that cost a buck.
Tonight, everybody watching the Minnesota Wild dismantle the struggling Phoenix Coyotes can buy a beer, a soda or a frankfurter for a measly dollar. Throw in the fact that the first 10,000 people in the building get a reversible blanket (some call them Snuggies) and you've got the potential for one of the drunkest, fullest and comfortable crowds in hockey history. It could also mean several thousand fans will fall asleep in the stands because I hear those blankets are deadly.
I know of about 100 fans in this building who won't have to worry about drowsiness. They'll be the folks in the Wild garb that are standing and cheering for every big save by Niklas Backstrom
. The red hot goaltender is coming off a shutout on Tuesday against Los Angeles, and I'll go on record right now as saying he'll post another one tonight. Mark it down.
Whatever idiot that wrote the Wild.com game preview today and said that today's callups - Justin Falk
and Cody Almond
- would not play should have his head checked. And then he should be kicked to the curb. Both Falk and Almond will be in the lineup tonight. Matt Cullen
is going to be held out of the lineup due to a lower body injury, and Jared Spurgeon
is battling an illness. Almond will net his first goal of the season, and Falk will chip in with an assist. Mark that down as well.
Of course, Guillaume Latendresse
(abdominal), Marek Zidlicky (shoulder) and Marco Scandella
(concussion) are unavailable tonight. I do have it on good authority that Zidlicky will practice with the team on Tuesday, however. That's nothing but great news.
If you're only hear to learn about fashion, I can help you there, unlike the moron that writes the game previews. The Wild will sport the road whites for tonight's game. The Coyotes are going with the home brick reds trimmed in white with the howling dog on the chest.
The anthem is done. The coyote has stopped howling. I do believe it is go time.Period 1
19:08 - Ilya Bryzgalov makes a relatively easy save on a wrist shot from Martin Havlat. He hangs on for a whistle, which allows for the PA announcer to tell everyone that "Bryz" is playing in his 300th game tonight. It's not 1,000, which is all I get excited about anymore, but it's nothing to sneeze at.
17:18 - Guess who is causing all kinds of problems in front of the Phoenix net. Why, it's none other than Mr. 1,000 himself, Andrew Brunette. He goes to the front and gets the puck to Antti Miettinen right at the top of crease. Bryzgalov stops his bid, and then Miettinen and Brunette start jamming away, basically pushing the Yotes keeper over the goal line, but there won't be a red light turned on.
15:25 - It could be a long night for yours truly in the Kielback Press Box. The only people within 20 feet of me are a couple, who apparently don't abide by the "no cheering in the press box" rule. Every time a Coyote player touches the puck, it's "Yeah! Go! Go! Go!" or "Come ooooonnn! Keep it in!" Good times.
8:25 - A nice ovation in the arena for Sgt. Robert Garcia, a service member on leave from serving in the Middle East. Both teams join in on the ovation and tap their sticks against the boards.
7:12 - The Coyotes nearly convert on their first power play of the game as Ray Whitney is set up for a one-timer in the left circle and he blasts a missile off the post. That puck is going to have some red paint on it.
1:30 - Just seconds after leveling Falk in the corner, Shane Doan goes to the front of the net and tries to stuff one in. Backstrom denies him there, and the rebound is nearly put in, but Cam Barker alertly falls into the net and knocks it off the pegs. It'll be a delay of game penalty on "Baker," but we'll take that as opposed to having to listen to the Coyote howl.
0:05.8 - Backstrom makes his 16th save of the period on a point blank attempt by Lauri Korpikoski that is stopped by the right leg pillow. Backstrom has been stellar early, but seriously, what do you expect? Last name: Ever. First name: Greatest.
0:00 - The horn ends to signal the end of a less than crisp period for the Wild, but the key takeaway here is that the game is still scoreless. A couple early goals in the second will fix things nicely.Period 2
17:36 - Martin Hanzal rips a shot from the left circle that finds some room between Backy's pads, but the Wild keeper gets just enough of the puck to steer it inches wide of the far post.
15:08 - The Wild power play unit goes to work, with Barker letting a boomer go from the point. Bryzgalov makes that stop and he also denies Bruno's rebound attempt on the doorstep.
11:43 - Glovely. It's going to take some wicked carom or shimmy to beat Backy tonight. Once again, he calmly snares a rocket off the stick of Scottie Upshall without breaking a sweat. The guy is as cool as Clint Eastwood.
10:24 - Almond can bring the brutality, and he smokes master Tweeter Paul Bissonette with a biggie along the sideboards. "Biz Nasty" goes after him for a hit, but Almond sidesteps that one.
6:04 - Backstrom's shutout streak, dating back to January 24 against Chicago, has now reached 149:14 and counting. That is a new franchise record, with no end in sight.
0:51.1 - Wild power play now, and a deflected shot ends up on the stick of Miettinen in front. He flicks a quick backhand and Bryzgalov turns that one away. It's looking like one goal could win this thing. Period 3
20:00 - Backstrom will start the period with his shutout streak at 154:43. Again, that is a team record.17:40 - MIN 0 - PHX 1 - The shutout streak is over, and the guy to my right is now standing up with his arms raised in the air. From the corner, Sami Lepisto finds Taylor Pyatt cutting down the slot and he cranks one past the lobster mitt of Backstrom into the top shelf. The streak officiall ends at 157:13. Time to start another one.
12:32 - As they skate toward the corner for a loose puck, Korpikoski puts a shoulder into Falk, who then collides with Backstrom, knocking the net off. You could call interference there and not be wrong.
8:09 - Cal Clutterbuck
does some mucking and grinding in the Phoenix corner and eventually makes his way to the front with the puck. His centering pass is blocked, so he tries to put one top shelf and Bryzgalov barely gets a piece of it. The Coyotes will call timeout.
5:53 - Upshall leads a two-on-one into the Wild zone, but Greg Zanon is completely taking away the pass. Upshall fires a shot right on, but Backstrom comes up with his 38th save of the night.
3:09 - Bryzgalov snuffs out another attempt, but Lepisto is going off for a trip, and the Wild has a huge opportunity to get this thing tied up with the man advantage.
1:28 - Backstrom is off for the extra attacker.
0:00 - That's going to do it. The Wild just can't break through the Coyote defense, and the win streak is snapped at three games. Now, it's a three day break before getting back in the win column on Wednesday.