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What up y'all in the State of Hockey legion? Welcome to a late Monday night edition of live in-game commentary, right here on Wild.com, where we judge you not by your political beliefs, but by your belief in the Minnesota Wild's ability to make a playoff push starting tonight. Non-believers are welcome, because I like the hits, but be very aware that you are not going to like what you'll be reading tonight.
For the next three hours, I'm going to be using so much bold font
to describe another Wild goal against Roberto Luongo, you're going to be thinking you're at the optomotrist's office. For the next three hours, I'm going to use so many positive adjectives to describe the exploits of Wild players, you'll think that Richard Simmons overtook control of my computer. For the next three hours, I'm going to ramble on about the leadership qualities that Mikko Koivu
has brought in his return, you'll want to elect him as the next President of the Universe. That's right. Koivu is in the lineup tonight, and that basically means the Wild is about to rattle off 13 wins in a row. Nothing wrong with that.
There's also nothing wrong with a Niklas Backstrom
start betwixt the red goal posts. He's going to be getting the starting nod tonight, and that is a solid choice right there. Besides carbohydrates and protein, Backstrom is fueled by a distaste for all things Vancouver Canucks and he's about to knock them down a few pegs since they've been strutting around like peacocks after winning five straight road games.
Back to Koivu, the Wild captain is getting back in the lineup after missing 11 games with a broken digit. He's going to be joined in the lineup by Cal Clutterbuck
, who is back in the lineup after missing four games because Trevor Gillies may or may not be a lunatic. Oh, and if you haven't had enough good news yet, here's some more. Clayton Stoner
is back from a lower body injury. So you'll be looking at a rejuvenated Wild team. Brad Staubitz is going to be the healthy scratch and Marco Scandella
has been reassigned to Houston. Gui Latendresse is out due to an abdominal injury.
Finally, we can gab about fashion, which is my favorite part of the day. The Wild will go with the road whites for this one. The Canucks are wearing the home blues trimmed in green and white with the C-shaped orca on the chest.
All right, folks. I realize it's late. However, you still haven't adjusted to the time change and if you're like me, you took advantage of National Napping Day and crushed a snooze while my wife sobbed during "The Bachelor." Now I expect you to be ready for a battle. Let's do the dang thang.Period 1
19:28 - Martin Havlat has some giddy up in his horse tonight. He chases down a sliding puck deep in the Vancouver zone and gets a shot off from point blank range. Luongo has a save tonight, so already he's ahead of the curve he normally is when he plays the Wild.18:01 - MIN 0 - VAN 1 - Raffi Torres normally isn't the guy that gets his name mentioned often in the scouting report about which Canucks you need to shut down. Nevertheless, the redhead gets the Canucks on the board first by wristing a shot from the left circle and beating Backstrom low on the short side. This is an uncharacteristic goal for Backstrom, but dare I say this is a good thing? Backstrom usually responds well to giving up a bad goal, and now the Wild offense is going to come alive early.
16:07 - Showing zero ill effects of a bad finger, Koivu wins the battle for a loose puck in the corner and makes a bee-line right to the front of the net. He tries to stuff one past the Borat look-alike, but is denied on his first bid for a goal in his return.
13:24 - The grinders nearly get this thing squared up as Warren Peters
steals the puck behind the Vancouver net and forces it out front. Chuck Kobasew is right there with a chance to whack it in, but once again Luongo is able to smother it and hold on for a whistle.
11:32 - MIN 0 - VAN 2 - This is not the start we need. Despite controlling much of the play, the Wild finds itself down a pair, and has now given up 10 goals without scoring any. Right off the draw on a Vancouver power play, the puck is shifted over to Daniel Sedin along the left boards. He takes a couple steps and then fires a wrist shot that gets past Backstrom's blocker as he's dealing with former Ohio State Buckeye Ryan Kesler's rump right in his face.
8:03 - Again, the Wild is coming hard at the Canucks. It's the Brodziak line generating all kinds of chances. The pin the Canucks in deep, and just as Vancouver looks to break out, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
makes a steal along the boards and then sends a shot toward the front of the net where Brodziak makes a perfect tip that hits the post.
7:40 - Koivu looks like he's right where he was before he got hurt. He is playing physical, and here he rocks former Rochester Institute of Technology Tiger, Chris Tanev along the boards in the Canuck end.
7:09 - This should be a goal, and it's not even going to be reviewed. During a mad scramble in front of Luongo, led by Andrew Brunette, the puck clearly goes over the line as Luongo falls into his own net. There is no question it's in, but apparently the refs are saying they blew the whistle before it crossed the line. I'm not so sure, but it doesn't look like many Wild players are arguing. 5:28 - MIN 0 - VAN 3 - What is going on? The Wild is pretty much doing everything right tonight, other than taking two penalties. And wouldn't you know? The Canucks now lead by three. The Vancouver power play is just dirty as they work the puck around like magicians before a pass is thrown to the slot for Kesler. He puts a redirection toward the goal. The puck hits a skate and bounces right back to him and he easily puts it into an open net. The Wild can't catch a break.
2:19 - I would have paid good money for Clutterbuck to connect on this hit attempt on Alex Burrows in front of the Vancouver bench. Burrows bails at the last instant and Clutterbuck flips himself over the boards and head first into the Vancouver bench area. Burrows then stands over Clutterbuck and talks some smack. Can anything go right tonight?
0:00 - The Wild actually plays a very good first period and trails, 3-0. Sometimes that's hockey, but the gods will turn things around in the second. This can't keep up. Period 2
20:00 - Mark my words, friends. When the Wild clinches a playoff berth, we are going to look back at the second period of tonight's game as when the amazing turnaround started.
17:31 - And when the Wild wins this game by a 4-3 score, we are going to look back at this play by Brent Burns. On the Wild's first power play, Kesler sticks the puck away from Matt Cullen
at the Vancouver blueline and he's off to the races. But just inside the Wild blueline, Burns catches up to him, dives and is able to knock the puck away as he's flat on the ice. An All-Star effort right there.
14:38 - Former Michigan Wolverine Jeff Tambellini races up the left side and gets a quick shot off. Backstrom gets his pad on it and then gloves it as it pops straight up in the air.
12:23 - Peters is flying through the air after taking a huge hip check from former Minnesota Gopher, Keith Ballard. Peters wants a call, but all he's getting are cheers from the Vancouver crowd.
11:38 - Bouchard looks to take things into his own hands by taking the puck and charging from one end of the rink to the other. He gets a step on the defense and darts to the side of the Vancovuer net where he tucks one between the legs of Luongo, but the puck slides across the crease about a foot from the goal line the entire way.
9:33 - Huge chance for the Wild here. Kesler is already in the box, and Manny Malhotra tries to clear the zone but fires the puck into the crowd. Initially, it doesn't look like he's going to go, but eventually the right call is made. A minute and a half of a five on three for the Wild.
7:38 - Gee willikers! Chances galore, but the Wild can't find the net. With six seconds left on Malhotra's penalty, the Canucks take another and the power play will continue. They've got to get one here.2:57 - MIN 1 - VAN 3 - The scoring skid is over, and the comeback has begun. Koivu makes his presence felt once again by getting the puck in the right circle and sending it to the front of the net. Andrew Brunette has his tip stopped by Luongo, but Bruno sticks with it and punches in the rebound for a huge goal. Did you know that a two-goal lead is the most dangerous lead in hockey? I thought you might.
2:02 - Does anybody over-dramatize their saves more than Luongo? Yes, he makes a great stop here to rob Havlat of a goal, but then he falls on his back and puts his legs way up in the air like he just got clotheslined. Just make your save and give the puck to the refs, slick. Period 3
19:37 - After Luongo covers up a loose puck, Malhotra delivers a shot to Brodziak behind the net. Those two jostle a bit and exchange a couple of death stares, but nothing escalates.
18:23 - I thought this was it. Clutterbuck blazes up the left side and you can see John Madden streaking down the slot all alone. Clutter finds him with a pass, but Madden chops it wide of the goal. An early goal in this period would be enormous.15:28 - MIN 2 - VAN 3 - Boom! Koivu is the freaking man! When the Canucks make Koivu mad (which isn't hard to do), he responds with talk and action. In his own zone, he has his stick broken by a slash. While Brent Burns leads a rush into the Vancouver zone, Koivu gets a stick from the Wild bench, shouts something at the Vancouver bench, and then he skates to the slot and picks up a Burns pass before whipping a backhand past Luongo. I'm sorry, but that's just studly.
9:07 - I'm curious as to whether the same Vancouver media members that took turn bashing Jacques Lemaire for his team's "trapping" schemes are enjoying this game. Vancouver is lining up four guys at the blue line every time the Wild comes up ice. I'm sure in Vancouver it's just referred to as being "responsible defensively."
6:30 - Antti Miettinen has his stick snap as he tries to make a pass into the slot. I think I've seen about eight Wild sticks break tonight, and each has come at a horrible time.
4:38 - On a Wild power play, Kesler wins a race with Jared Spurgeon
for a loose puck sliding into the Wild zone. While holding off Spurgeon, Kesler tries to roof a backhand, but Backstrom makes a spectacular save with the glove before both players go crashing into the net.
2:10 - If the Wild are going to tie this one, it's going to come on the power play. Burns takes a high stick from Kesler right in the mouth. Biggest power play of the season right here.
0:34.4 - Backstrom is off for the extra attacker. One more rush left. 0:03.7 - MIN 2 - VAN 4 - Ish. Kesler comes out of the box and gathers up the puck in the neutral zone. He then fires one in for his second of the game. That's going to do it.
0:00 - It's not to be. The Wild rally is squashed, and the boys will now move on to San Jose to try and salvage some points out of this road trip.