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What's the haps State of Hockey legion? I would like to welcome you to live in-game commentary presented by Sun Country Airlines, who fly the best darn airplanes in the skies for my money. I also want to thank you for joining me late on a Monday night. It's quite possible that your entire Fantasy Football season hinges on whether or not Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace scores a touchdown or not, but yet, here you are, steadfast in your support of the greatest hockey team in the land: your
There's not a single football game that will distract me when the Wild takes on the Vancouver Rioters (known to some as the Canucks). The games between these two clubs that currently rank 1-2 in the Northwest Division usually feature some shenanigans and some hilarity and plenty of Wild goals. All of those things usually double when Roberto Luongo is in the net, and yet, there he is, getting the start despite a goals against average of somewhere near 12.04 against the Wild.
On the other end of the rink, you've got Wild starting goalie Niklas Backstrom
who relishes games like this. You put him in the cage against the Canucks, and he cranks it up to 11. I'm calling for a yooooge performance from the guy they call "Backy" tonight.
I'm also calling for a goal and two helpers from Pierre-Marc Bouchard
who is coming back to the lineup tonight. I have to say, it's good to see him because the good guys are still without Mikko Koivu
(lower body), Devin Setoguchi
(lower body), Guillaume Latendresse
(concussion symptoms), Casey Wellman (upper body) and Justin Falk
(upper body). Chad Rau
's NHL debut will have to wait as he's a healthy scratch along with Greg Zanon.
As for uniforms, the Wild will break out the road whites to kick off this three-game roadie. The Canucks will wear their home blues trimmed in green and white with the C-shaped Free Willy on the chest.
Now I know it's late. And it's a school night, unless you're a college kid done with finals and you're already six sheets to the wind. But I want you here for the duration. And don't worry, I'm pretty sure the power is working just fine on the northern part of the West Coast as opposed to the southern part. Let's get this thing going.Period 1
19:32 - One of those Sedin Twins (doesn't matter which one) makes an early bid for a Canuck goal by fighting off a check behind Backstrom's net and then flipping a backhand up high and off the post above the Wild netminder's shoulder.
16:50 - Matt Cullen
makes a beautiful steal deep in the Canuck zone and then quickly puts a pass to the slot for an open Dany Heatley
. The Heater snaps off a shot that Luongo sponges up in his padding. Luongo has already made it three minutes against the Wild without getting yanked so he's got to be feeling pretty good right now.
11:47 - Bouchard is already making things happen in his return. He makes a nice drop pass for a one-timer by Mike Lundin
. Luongo struggles to control that long bomb, which leads to another chance in front for Cullen who's wrister is turned away.
10:27 - What a rush by Nick Johnson
who gets a head of steam going up the left side and then gets around Dan Hamhuis. His shot comes from a shallow angle but Luongo spasms along the goal post and gives up a huge rebound, but the net is dislodged before Cullen can put it home.
7:58 - I'm starting to wonder if former Boston College Eagle Cory Schneider has taken Luongo's pads and put them on. Only problem is that hair sticking out from under the mask is black and not ginger. Luongo comes up with a big stop when Bouchard cranks a shot from the top of the right circle that Luongo stops up high and then bats out of the air with the paddle of his stick.
4:06 - Great chance to take the lead here as Cullen leads a two-on-one rush with Heatley on his right. Cullen opts to take this one himself but he fires his shot high over the net. 1:08 - MIN 0 - VAN 1 - That potent Vancouver power play gets to work on its first chance and when you have the Sedins doing this, there's no wonder their power play is at the top of the League. Henrik enters the zone and sends a pass all the way to the other side to his brother. Daniel sends it right back to the other side of the net where Henrik is able to bank it off Backstrom and in.
0:00 - One-goal deficits are nothing to this Wild team other than a scratch on the bicep. They'll regroup during the intermission and then come out with some fire to break this hex in General Motors Place.Period 2
18:51 - This Heatley-Cullen-Bouchard line might not last much longer once Koivu comes back, but they are definitely creating a bundle of chances thus far tonight. After a Heatley blast sails wide, Bouchard follows up and sends a missile right on goal.
15:36 - Other than the power play goal, Backstrom hasn't had to deal with too many toughies as of yet. That changes here as Alexandre Burrows puts a tip on a shot up high and Backstrom hangs with the redirection and absorbs it perfectly.
14:15 - Hey guy waving at the camera because there is a faceoff near your seats...nobody cares.
11:22 - The Wild power play is out there for the first time. Kyle Brodziak
cuts across the high slot and then drops a pass back to Bouchard. Butch one-times one through a maze of bodies but Luongo sees it and snares it with the lobster mitt.9:32 - MIN 0 - VAN 2 - The Canucks power play is just clicking right now. A Sedin gets the puck behind the net and then saucers a pass to the front for former Ohio State Buckeye Ryan Kesler. Despite a bouncing puck, Kesler connects and drives a one-time shot past Backstrom from about five feet away. Someone needs to put some poisonous snakes in the Wild penalty box so they steer clear of there the rest of the night.
6:50 - Nice to see former UMD Bulldog Mason Raymond out there after his awful injury during the Stanley Cup Finals. He gets a chance with some space at the right circle. He tries to pound a shot through Backstrom, who is having none of it.
3:24 - A nice shift by the Houston connection leads to a chance as Warren Peters
dishes out front to Jarod Palmer
. Despite being covered, he gets his stick on it to send a fluttering puck on goal and Luongo makes it look like the toughest save in the history of hockey.1:59 - MIN 0 - VAN 3 - Ish. Daniel Sedin makes an absolutely sick move as he cuts down the slot, and then he dishes over to the finger biter. Burrows tucks that one in and the Canucks build a three-goal advantage.
0:00 - When I need to regroup, I take the dog out to do her duty. The Wild will do what they do and come out angry in the third. Period 3
15:59 - Johnson picks up a loose puck along the boards in the Vancouver end and takes a few steps toward the goal before firing a bullet. Luongo gets the arm up in time and knocks it away. This is not the Roberto Luongo we know and love.
14:27 - Former Boston College Eagle Andrew Alberts lays a monster hit on Marek Zidlicky against the boards. That draws the ire of Brad Staubitz, who jumps to his teammate's defense and drops the gloves. There really aren't any punches thrown here as it's more of a wrestling match that ends when Stauby throws the Minneapolis native to the ice.
10:43 - Heatley has a bid from the left faceoff dot zip right toward the five hole of Luongo. He makes the save, but is looking behind him as the puck is rattling around in front of him. He eventually recovers and hangs on for the faceoff.
6:35 - The charge just hasn't come as it has so many times this season in the third period. There is some chatting going on between Darroll Powe
and Burrows. I'm betting Powe wins that argument since he went to Princeton and Burrows strikes me as a guy that took second grade four times.
5:30 - The Canucks keep up the pressure and are peppering Backstrom. Hamhuis steps into one but Backstrom sees it all the way and catches it easily.3:26 - MIN 0 - VAN 4 - I suppose this will just about do it. There's not a Sedin on the ice but the Canucks still score as Jannik Hansen converts from in tight. Even I'm doubting a comeback is possible tonight, but I'm not doubting a Wild win in Calgary tomorrow night.
0:00 - Let's forget about this one, and hope to get another healthy body or two for tomorrow in Calgary.