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What's the haps State of Hockey legion? I'd like to kick off tonight's late night edition of live in-game commentary presented by Sun Country Airlines by wishing all vets an early Happy Veterans Day. By the time this commentary wraps up, we'll probably be into Veterans Day, but I'll be so distracted by the Minnesota Wild's sixth straight win, I might forget. So then, to all of the vets and to any current soldiers serving overseas, please let me speak on behalf of everybody on Wild.com tonight and say, "Thank you!" We sure are lucky to have you.
Speaking of veterans, let me mention one in particular. Perhaps you've seen the Wild TV feature called "Becoming Wild...At 90."
It centers on the remarkable Mark Sertich, who is 90-years-old and still tearing up the rinks in Duluth. Mark was an artillery man during World War II and just an amazing specimen.
Now then, we've got a big night...a BIG NIGHT. And yes, the caps lock button was completely necessary to get my point across. A win tonight over the San Jose Blowfish (sometimes known as the Sharks) would put the Wild in first place, atop the Northwest Division. I like the sound of that. It's like the gentle, melodic singing of Dido.
Furthermore, we've got Dany Heatley
and Devin Setoguchi
looking to take down their former team, while the Wild players look to shut down ol' Brent Burns and ol' Marty Havlat. Fortunately, we've got the two best goalies in the world, and Niklas Backstrom
is going to be shutting down the Sharks, whether they played for the Wild or not. He's coming off one shutout, and he'll be looking for another.
The good guys got some good news today when Cal Clutterbuck
was given the green light to return to the lineup tonight. That means Warren Peters
will sit out as the only healthy scratch. Mike Lundin
(back), Clayton Stoner
(hand) and Greg Zanon (groin) will be the injured guys.
If you're curious about uniforms, and I know you are, let me be the one to tell you that the Wild will wear the road whites for this one. The Sharks are going with their black third jerseys, trimmed in teal and white with the stick-eating Great White on the chest.
I will grant you that we've got a late start tonight, but I don't want to hear excuses. Just because my trusty sidekick Ivy is passed out next to me, doesn't mean that I'm going to tire. There's too much at stake. Let's get this show on the road as all the kids say.Period 1
17:29 - Andrew Desjardins carries the puck through the neutral zone and takes advantage of Jared Spurgeon
taking a spill at the blue line. Desjardins lets a quick shot go from the left circle, but Backstrom makes the stop with the leg pillow.
16:52 - Her's a penalty you may never again see for the rest of your life. Marco Scandella
gets called for playing with two sticks. When Backstrom loses his stick, he takes one from a forward to give to Backs. Unfortunately, that means he's got one in each hand, but apparently you can't do that. What's wrong with playing with two sticks?
14:39 - Pierre-Marc Bouchard
jumps off the bench and right into the play where the puck slides right to him at the point. He lets loose with a one-timer through a screen, but Antti Niemi makes his first good stop of the evening.
11:51 - Ol' Burnsie finds a wide open Jumbo Joe Thornton at the goal mouth during a San Jose power play. The big man appears to have an empty net, but Nate Prosser
saves the day by deflecting the puck away in midair as it was about six inches from going into the net. Huge play.
8:40 - The Wild has had trouble staying out of the box again, but not many problems beyond that. The PK unit kills its third of the night and that's 24 straight opponent power plays that have been diffused.
3:02 - Marco Scandella
goes on a nice rush, skating around the outside and cutting to the net hard. He's got former Umass Minuteman Justin Braun draped on him, but still is able to get the puck to the net. There's a big collision at the cage, but nothing more.
0:00 - Plenty of energy in the first, and not much else. We've got a couple doughnuts up on the scoreboard for now. Period 217:26 - MIN 0 - SJ 1 - The Wild's penalty kill streak is over, and it's a shame it has to end this way. A long shot by former Miami Redhawk Dan Boyle from the red line is stopped by Backstrom, who then tries to leave the puck for Justin Falk. The big blueliner overskates it a bit and Patrick Marleau jumps at that chance. He tucks a quick shot in on the short side. Backstrom's shutout streak is also over, but the win is still well within reach.
13:13 - The Wild power play is getting a chance and Bouchard floats a pass into the right circle for Marek Zidlicky. His one-time attempt is blistered just wide.
9:56 - Scandella just has a bomb and he shows it off here. Taking a nice drop pass, he unleashes the howitzer from the right circle. I think this one leaves an exit wound on Niemi as it squirts through him but deflects wide.
5:27 - Backstrom is again feeling the flow tonight. He stops a one-timer, and then perfectly plays the rebound which goes to Ryane Clowe all alone at the side of the net. Nobody is there to check Clowe, but Backstrom positions himself perfectly and gives him absolutley nowhere to put the puck.4:26 - MIN 0 - SJ 2 - Marleau should be nearing retirement age, shouldn't he? He notches number two, and again it comes on a San Jose power play. From the left boards, Clowe sends a pass all the way across the zone where Marleau cranks a one-timer that eludes a sliding Backstrom. The Wild now faces its first two-goal deficit in two weeks.
1:21 - MIN 0 - SJ 3 - If I'm not mistaken, this is the first three-goal deficit for the Wild this year. Right after, and I mean immediately after a faceoff in the Wild zone, former Vermont Catamount Torrey Mitchell blasts a shot that beats Backstrom clean. Just a rocket of a shot and now we've got some work to do.
0:37.2 - Nick Johnson
continues to be impressive as one of the most consistent forces on the Wild front line. He leads a charge to the San Jose zone and gets a shot off that forces Niemi to give up a juicy rebound. Guillaume Latendresse
follows and puts it back on net, but Niemi recovers and swallows up the shot.
0:00 - The Wild gets a significant wakeup call in the second, but it's only going to set the stage for a memorable comeback in the third. Just you watch. Period 3
19:30 - The puck is ringed around the boards in the Wild zone and the puck caroms right out front to Clowe. He's able to go between his legs with the stick to put a shot on goal, but Backstrom quickly slides over to smother it shy of the goal line.
13:12 - The Wild turns the puck over at its own blueline and the puck comes right to Logan Couture. He feeds ahead to Thornton, who is in alone on Backstrom. He tries to tuck a backhand in, but Backstrom closes up the five hole and then lays on his back to cover the puck. There's some shenanigans afterward as former Wisconsin Badger Joe Pavelski comes in late and he's confronted by Cal Clutterbuck
11:16 - The Wild finally has some room to maneuver during a four-on-three advantage. Mikko Koivu
has the best opportunity on the right as he makes a move around a defender and then fires a shot from close range that Niemi snuffs out.6:27 - MIN 1 - SJ 3 - Uh oh, we've got ourselves a spark. It didn't come easy, but the Wild gets on the board with some time up there on the clock. Zidlicky carries the puck low and then just gives up a short pass into the slot where Kyle Brodziak quickly rips one past Niemi. You can't score three goals at once, but scoring one can lead to others.
1:22 - Backstrom is off for the extra attacker.
0:00 - There won't be any last minute heroics tonight. The Wild win streak is finally stopped by a fierce Sharks team. Back at it on Saturday when Mike Doyle will take the commentary reigns.