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Greetings State of Hockey legion, and welcome to Wild.com's live in-game commentary presented by the best darn airline out there, Sun Country Airlines. I want to thank you for joining me for live in-game commentary tonight as I man the keyboard from the Kielback Press Box inside Jobing.com Arena. I know that there are other entertainment options out there like the Boys' State High School tournament (spoiler alert: Duluth East is going to win). But at your heart, you are Wild fans and despite some recent struggles, you like to come to where we keep things positive. Sure, we're not as good at positivity as say, Marilyn Hagerty of the Grand Forks Herald
, but we do our darndest.
If Marilyn were sitting alongside me right now, she might say "the delightfully sparse crowd inside Jobing.com Arena gave a welcoming feel as one could have their pick of the litter of any brick red colored seat. I chose one in the 12th row along the aisle so as to get a great view of the impeccably dressed Minnesota Wild beat the snot out of the spunky Phoenix Coyotes." Let it be known that Marilyn knows her stuff, and neither her nor I have any concern about the Wild roster being absolutely decimated by injuries yet again.
One player that is healthy as a sea turtle is Josh Harding
, who will get the start betwixt the pipes tonight. Harding has never lost to the Yotes, and I see know reason for him to start now.
If you have time, I'm happy (or sad) to run down the Wild's current injury situation with you. Cal Clutterbuck
and Jared Spurgeon
are both feeling ill and won't be in this one. Mikko Koivu
(upper body), Niklas Backstrom
(groin), Mike Lundin
(lower body), Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion), Guillaume Latendresse
(concussion) and Justin Falk
(lower body) are out. Clayton Stoner
is also out despite taking pregame warmups. He nearly gave it a go because Tyler Cuma
wasn't able to get to his flight from Houston in time thanks to a late arrival from Vancouver. Not to worry, Tyler. We got your back tonight.
Now for the clothing update. The Wild will wear the road whites for this one. The Yotes are dressed in their black third jerseys trimmed in brick red and white with the galloping desert dog on the chest. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I really like those sweaters.
Now let's do this. It's go time.Period 1
17:14 - The Yotes get an early chance when a shot from the point hits traffic in front and the puck lands at the feet of Raffi Torres. He turns and fires a shot right on, but Harding gets into that butterfly position and makes the stop while not allowing a rebound.15:54 - MIN 1 - PHX 0 - Hey now! That's what we like to see. The Wild intercepts a Coyote clearing attempt and Darroll Powe ends up with his stick in the slot. He fires a shot toward the goal that Kyle Brodziak tips on the way, fooling Jason Labarbera on the blocker side. Let's just say that was a much needed goal for this team to get some good vibes flowing.
15:07 - Right off a faceoff in the neutral zone, the gloves are off and it's a battle of Twitter legends: Matt Kassian
and Paul "Biz Nasty" Bissonnette. The dance around for a bit and do some posturing. When they finally get engaged, Kassian loses his footing. He gets up and then Biz loses his footing. The two want to keep going, but the refs jump in and stop things really before any punches can be thrown. 14:56 - MIN 2 - PHX 0 - This scoring thing isn't so hard. Steve Kampfer buries his first goal in a Wild sweater from nearly the same spot as Powe. He puts a laser past the blocker of Labarbera and there are quite a few Wild fans in here cheering that goal. A 2-0 lead feels pretty darn good.
12:56 - So maybe Duluth East won't win the State tourney. Am I really going to pull for Benilde the rest of the way? Yes. Yes I am.
7:54 - The Wild's top line gains the zone easily and Dany Heatley
finds Devin Setoguchi
with a cross ice pass right on the tape. Setoguchi zips a wrist shot on goal, but Labarbera squares up to it and knocks it down with his shoulder.
6:38 - The Wild is doing it at both ends of the rink tonight. Harding comes up with a huge pad save as Radim Vrbata punches a perfect centering feed toward an opening. Hards couldn't play this one any better and he makes a tough save look easy.
2:55 - Martin Hanzal is laying on the ice and then slow to get up after taking a clean hit into the boards by Matt Cullen
. It's actually Cullen that falls first, and then Hanzal falls over him. I'm note sure what the deal is, but Hanzal is going to the locker room.
0:00 - Aaahhh. A two-goal period feels very nice. Like sun on my face. Look for the good guys to keep it going in the second.Period 2
16:17 - Brodziak looks like he's shot out of a cannon when he steals a pass in the neutral zone and then wheels around the defense to get in alone on LaBarbera. Brodzy tries to go to the far side to stuff one in, but the Yotes keeper stretches his toe out there to make the stop.
14:07 - Phoenix is applying a lot of pressure in the offensive zone right now, and that leads to another chance from in tight for Torres, but Harding comes up big again.
12:38 - Wild defensemen are getting involved in the rush tonight, and Marco Scandella
nearly cashes in this time. He catches up to give Powe a two-on-one and Powe feathers a perfect pass to the front of the cage. Scandella taps it, but LaBarbera gets over and swallows it up for a huge stop.
10:13 - If there's such a thing as a good penalty, this is one. Torres is ahead of everyone with a clear lane to the net, but Nate Prosser
whacks at him from behind and hits his stick. When Torres winds up for a slapper, he realizes his stick is broken and he throws it. The Yotes will get a power play out of this.
8:22 - Harding comes up with a big save on a Coyote power play, but he's slow to get up. He stays down for awhile, and then after a long talk with Doc Fuller, he heads to the bench. In comes Matt Hackett
. Will we finish the season with anyone from the opening night roster? This is getting insane.
6:35 - Hackett shows no signs of being cold off the bench. He makes a slick glove save on Shane Doan after the longtime Coyotes emerges from behind the net and fires a wrister right on.
4:34 - Oh my! Hackett makes an absolutely ridiculous save with the paddle as Keith Yandle has a golden opportunity while pinching in deep. It looks like Yandle has him beat on the short side, but Hackett gets the paddle back and knocks it out of the air.
3:21 - Yandle makes another bid, this time with a long shot that Hackett has trouble with. The puck wriggles through his pads and falls behind him in the crease, but the kid falls back and covers it up.
2:28 - The Coyotes already have 32 shots in this game, but Harding and Hackett have combined to hold them off the scoreboard.
2:12 - Nick Palmieri
is sprung on a partial breakaway into the Coyote zone. He is able to get a good shot off just as Taylor Pyatt stick checks him from behind. Palmieri goes down and slides hard into the net, knocking it off its pegs.
0:00 - That's it for the second. The Coyotes are a frustrated bunch. Just the way we like it.Period 318:20 - MIN 2 - PHX 1 - Torres has had umpteen chances tonight. He finally converts. Michael Stone intercepts a clear along the boards and then puts a pass to Torres between the hash marks. He smacks a lot shot that Hackett gets a piece of, but the puck gets through and into the back of the net.
17:15 - MIN 2 - PHX 2 - Bang, bang...and we're tied. The puck is sent down to Antoine Vermette at the bottom of the left circle, and he seriously has five seconds to hold the puck and stare at Hackett. When Hackett commits and goes down in the butterfly, Vermette flicks a pass to Lauri Korpikoski for an easy shot into a gaping net.
12:54 - Erik Christensen
alleviates some Phoenix pressure by scooping up a puck at the Wild blueline and racing the other way. A Coyote defender falls down giving Christensen a two-on-one with Kassian on the left. Christensen goes for the shot, but LaBarbera makes the stop and holds on.
11:31 - Palmieri shows his strength as he skates up the left side. He holds off Yandle with one arm and uses the other to shovel a shot on goal. LaBarbera makes another save and both Palmieri and Yandle go crashing into the boards.
8:55 - The Wild won't surrender in this one. Scandella again jumps into the play and dangles his way right in on net. He tries to sneak a backhand past LaBarbera, but no dice.
7:25 - Wow! Ray Whitney looks to have the go-ahead marker for Phoenix from in tight with a quick shot off a centering feed. He puts if off the bottom of the cross bar. Man, this is a crazy game.
4:07 - Scandella and Whitney are now in a battle royale in front of the Wild net. Scandella tries to put him in a headlock before they finally part ways.
0:35.8 - This is even crazier. Hackett's clearing attempt goes to Pyatt in the right circle, but the Wild keeper gets back in net and makes a pad stop.
0:00 - At least one point is secured. The Wild will look to get that second one in overtime.Overtime
2:47 - Big night for Scandella tonight. He pumps another shot on goal that forces LaBarbera into a tough save.
0:46.3 - Yandle wrists a shot through traffic that Hackett never sees, but he gets a piece of it anyway. We could very well be going to the ol' shootout.
0:00 - Nothing doing in overtime. Let's settle this with a breakaway contest.ShootoutWhitney is going to start it off for Phoenix, and he comes through with a wrister that beats Hackett up high.Here's shootout specialist Christensen, and the Crusher will not be denied. He tucks a shot inside the post. Big goal.
Vrbata is up next. He tries to sneak a backhand past Hackett, but flips the shot wide.
Here comes Matt Cullen
. He tries to go five-hole, but LaBarbera gets the pads down.
Mikkel Boedker tries a move to the forehand, and Hackett denies him with the leg pillow.
Brodziak can end this thing right now, but no. LaBarbera decks the pads and keeps it out.Now it's Doan, the captain. He makes a dirty move to the forehand and puts it in. Here comes Setoguchi for the tie, and he's got it! He smokes a wrist shot over the blocker.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson will be up next. He tries to go upstairs with a shot, but Hackett gets the glove up and knocks it away.Heatley can end it right here. He does! He puts a backhand through the wickets and gives the Wild a huge win.