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What's up dudes? Did you notice my attempt to be hip and cool in my greeting? That's because I'm coming to you live from Downtown St. Paul tonight, and it is crawling with cool kids are participating or attending the Red Bull Crashed Ice event over by the St. Paul Cathedral. I believe downhill skating at speeds of 40 mph around hair pin turns with three other skaters at the same time would qualify as an "X Game." So if you see some of these daredevils in person, you want to say "Hang ten Dude!" and ask offer them a can of Red Bull by saying "Wanna ride the bull?" and then you'll fit right in.
But now I'm back inside the comfy confines of Wild headquarters where I've got the office flat screen fired up with tonight's tilt between the St. Louis Blues, and your
Minnesota Wild. Now friends, I realize that the Wild hasn't won a road game in a while, and I realize we just cut loose Colton Gillies. But I'm am feeling so confident that the Wild is going to win tonight's game, I'd slap a guarantee on it if this game came in box form. Just call me the guarantee fairly.
But just think about it. The Wild and Blues do not get along, and the guys in green and red always play better when they play angry. Just look at the last two wins against San Jose and Edmonton. The Wild played mean and pulled out the wins. This St. Louis team will bring out the mean streak in our boys.
Plus, the Wild has Josh Harding
between the pipes tonight. I like this call. Harding got pulled from Thursday's loss to Chicago, and now he's going to be hell bent on redeeming himself against a team he's 6-2-0 against in his career.
So with Gillies gone, the Wild won't have to scratch a forward. Greg Zanon will be the odd man out tonight on the blueline with Mike Lundin
getting back in there. Matt Hackett
will be backing up Harding with Niklas Backstrom
still not feeling great. And of course, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, Guillaume Latendresse
and Jarod Palmer
are all out with concussions and thankfully not participating in the Crashed Ice festivities tonight.
As for attire, the Wild will once again sport the road whites for this one. The Blues are in their navy third jerseys trimmed in white and yellow with the circular crest that is a complete knock off of the Wild's red jersey crest.Period 1
19:02 - There's some of the nastiness we need. Justin Falk
steps up and absolutely destroys David Perron at the Wild blueline. David Backes takes exception and goes after Falk and those two have a tussle for a bit. Nothing major occurs, but both will get five for fighting.
18:17 - The Wild power play comes up with a beatiful play, but Jaroslav Halak turns in a remarkable save. Mikko Koivu
gets the puck to the left of the net. He fakes a defenseman to the ice and then slides a pass over to a wide open Kyle Brodziak
. It looks like Brodziak has a sure goal, but Halak lunges to his left and just does get a glove on it to knock it down shy of the goal line.
16:18 - Former North Dakota Fighting Sioux (as they were called then) T.J. Oshie gains the Wild zone with speed and tries to slide a centering pass to the front. Harding is all over it though, as he lays down the paddle and thwarts the scoring opportunity.12:47 - MIN 1 - STL 0 - Somebody grab that puck! Congratulations for former Colgate Red Raider David McIntyre on his first career NHL goal. The Wild draws it up perfectly as they enter the zone. From the top of the right circle, Mike Lundin throws a pretty pass to the front of the net, and that's where McIntyre is crashing and he's able to chip a deflection off a defender and over Halak.
10:14 - The Wild goal woke up the Blues and they are now coming in full force. They start throwing the puck repeatedly at the net, and that results in a mad scramble. Harding is out of the net and the puck is in the crease, but Falk is able to clear it before it can make its way over the line.
9:13 - The bad blood continues to boil. After a puck is deflected out of play, Clayton Stoner
and Chris Stewart start exchanging pleasantries. Stewart may want to check in with Backes on what it's like to fight Stoner before he engages in something there.
5:47 - FSN shows a replay of Koivu taking a hit, and immediately after, he skated to the bench while keeping his left arm close to his body. He went right to the locker room, but we don't have any more information than that right now.
4:19 - Stewart is going to go with Stoner and immediately off a face off, the gloves are off. Both guys throw some big haymakers, but it doesn't look like anything connects too hard. Stoner goes down and then hops right back up, but before another punch can be thrown, the refs break it up.
3:22 - With the Blues on the power play, former Boston University Terrier Kevin Shattenkirk fires a shot from the point. It gets deflected on the way and comes up high on a surpised Harding, who takes it off the shoulder.
1:55 - Harding is a new man tonight. He comes up with a monster save here, stealing a sure goal from Patrik Berglund as the puck pinballs in front of the net. Berglund is all alone on the side of the cage, but his lay up is rejected as Harding slides across and is somehow able to deflect the puck out of play with the waffle mitt.
0:00 - Now that's how a road first period is supposed to go. The Wild looks good in all aspects, and the only downside is the possible injury to Koivu. That means it's bootstrap-pulling-up time.Period 2
20:00 - Word from PR guru Ryan Stanzel is that Koivu suffered an upper body injury and is questionable to return.
15:44 - Casey Wellman goes flying after a puck in the corner of the St. Louis zone. He wins the race and tries to fire a shot on goal from a tough angle. But his stick breaks and he loses an edge, going flying back first into the boards. Wellman looks a little stunned, but he's able to get up and looks like he should be fine.
13:57 - Dany Heatley
makes a gorgeous play as he enters the zone. He winds up like he's going to take a slap shot, but then he feathers a pass to Warren Peters
sneaking behind the D. Peters catches it and makes a move to the backhand, but Halak stays with him and snuffs it out.
12:17 - Brodziak has another big opportunity as a turnover leads to a golden chance, but he fires a shot just wide. 11:56 - MIN 1 - STL 1 - The Blues have been throwing everything at Harding, and they finally solve him. It takes a broken play as Stewart rips a shot from the slot that's blocked in front. But Harding had come way out to challenge him and when the puck bounces to the left side, Perron is there to fire it into the empty net.
10:32 - How 'bout Brad Staubitz? He sees Peters get hammered into the boards by Ryan Reaves, and so he confronts the hulking Blues forward and the two drop the gloves. Reaves is a massive individual, but Staubitz will not back down, even after getting knocked upside the head a couple times. Stauby comes back with some big blows of his own and the two finally tumble togeher near the boards.9:21 - MIN 1 - STL 2 - The downside to Staubitz's bravery is the ensuing power play the Blues get due to the instigator. And they convert. Former MSU Mankato Maverick David Backes parks his big body right in front of Harding. When the puck comes down to him, he spins and throws a no-look pass out to the right side where Alex Pietrangelo is and he pumps a shot into an opening.
6:22 - Marek Zidlicky and Devin Setoguchi
seem to have some chemistry lately. Zidlicky makes a nice play entering the zone and drops a pass back to Seto. He cranks a shot that's low but hard, and Halak gets an outstretched toe on it. That's followed up by a scramble and a chance for Stoner, but his backhand shot is kicked out nicely by Halak.
3:36 - With Koivu out, Setoguchi and Heatley seem to be elevating their games. Heatley is able to corral a puck in front and then spin around with a backhand, but Halak is on it. 3:28 - MIN 2 - STL 2 - There it is! The power play comes through, as Jared Spurgeon holds the puck at the point. He shakes off a defender by faking a pass to the other side. When he sees the lane open up, he drives a shot toward the goal. The puck appears to skim off something on its way and it's enough to fool Halak. Spurgeon will get credit for the goal, and it's nice to see a Wild defenseman get on the board.
0:04 - Stoner gets lit up on a big hit by Oshie, and Stoner doesn't like it. As they head up the ice, he gets caught slashing Oshie, and he gets two more minutes for arguing the call. Oops.
0:00 - Just when it looked like the Wild was down and out, they turn it around in a big way and dominate the last half of the second. Look for more of that in the third, and remember that I guaranteed this win.Period 3
19:48 - The Blues power play comes up firing and Pietrangelo has a glorious chance taken away on a sprawling save by Harding. Spurgeon backs up Harding just in case, but he's not needed this time.
17:27 - Stoner's double minor is pretty much negated by back-to-back penalties taken by the Blues, and both were drawn by Lundin. This time, it's Backes who's going off.
14:00 - I'm being forced to spell "Pietrangelo" a lot tonight, and it's slowing me down. He has another great chance from about 10 feet in front of the net, but Harding continues to shine and sponges up this big chance.
12:18 - Another scramble in front of Harding leads to guys grabbing each other and quite a bit of chirping. These two teams really don't seem to like each other. Pleeeeeeaaaase let realignment happen next year.
11:43 - Whoo boy! Jason Arnott carries up the right side and jukes Harding to the ice before going around him on the right side. He throws a pass into the crease for Jamie Langenbrunner, but the Cloquet native is caught from behind by Zidlicky and he can't put it in the empty net.
5:24 - The Wild has played most of this period with four guys on the ice, but now they'll get a man advantage. Roman Polak drives Darroll Powe
into the boards from behind on a dangerous play. It'll be interesting to see if he gets more than two here...he won't.
1:50 - Harding comes up with a huge save off a one-timer from Matt D'Agostini in the slot. There's no doubt Harding is the number one star of this game, regardless of the outcome. What am I talking about? We already know the guaranteed outcome.
0:00 - For the Wild to snap the road winless streak, it's going to be done in overtime...or the shootout. I'd prefer overtime.Overtime
4:33 - Cal Clutterbuck
nearly ends this thing right away. He drives to the net and gets right in on Halak, trying to stuff it in. Halak makes the stop, and Matt Cullen
can't put away the rebound.
3:56 - Oshie makes an absolutely sick move to turn Nick Schultz inside out and then get in on Harding. The only reason this won't be on every highlight show around the country is because Harding snuffs out the chance with yet another huge stop.
1:20 - Harding is in another world right now. Shattenkirk carries down low and throws a pass to Perron all alone in front. But no, Harding gets over and makes another insane stop. You think St. Louis wants to face him in a shootout right now?
0:00 - Here comes the shootout. The Wild won the last one, and Harding was in goal. Here we go again.Shootout
The Blues will lead off, and it will be Langenbrunner that gets the call. The wily veteran tries to tuck one in on the stick side, but Harding goes down and lays the pad across to deny him.
Cullen goes first for the Wild, but he can't convert on the backhand.Shattenkirk comes in and he beats Harding on the blocker side with a quick wrister.
Heatley will get the call. He slows way down before firing a shot, but Halak won't give in and makes the stop.
Oshie could end it, but he makes one too many moves and loses control without getting a shot off.
It's up to Setoguchi to keep this thing going. He tries to go upstairs with a wrist shot, but Halak gets the blocker on it and my guarantee falls flat. The Wild gets a point in a tough building and has something to build on.