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'Sup State of Hockey legion? Welcome to yet another edition of live in-game commentary presented by Sun Country Airlines. They've got cookies on their planes that are awwwww-some. Speaking of sunny countries, let's all wish a Happy Independence Day to the Wild fans in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Of course I don't need to tell you that it was on this day in 1979 that SV and the G won independence from the British. Do you ever wonder if the Brits get sick of all the countries that have parties after winning their independence from them? Okay, we get it you filthy blokes. Bugger off with your picnics and fireworks.
Tough beans Britain. We're here to party at your expense, and the expense of the Anaheim Dorks...also known as the Ducks in some circles. I am coming to you live from party headquarters, which is my perch in the Al Shaver Press Box, high atop ice level at beautiful Xcel Energy Center. It's from here that I'll be witnessing the upcoming drubbing of those dirty Ducks. I'm not afraid to call this win tonight. I don't mean to spoil the ending or anything like that, but I'm just so darn confident is all.
For starters, we've got Niklas Backstrom
in goal, and the man is completely unbeatable right now in pregame warmups. When he's on in warmups, he usually carries that into the game action. I see no reason to believe that won't happen again tonight. I see 30+ saves for him tonight and less than one goal against.
As for who scores the goals tonight, I know it won't be off the sticks of Mike Lundin
(back), Greg Zanon (groin) or the healthy scratches: Brad Staubitz and Matt Kassian
. No, I'm projecting that we see a pair from Mikko Koivu
, one from Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, one from Matt Cullen
and the first career goal from Brett Bulmer
. Don't say I didn't warn you.
As for attire, the Wild squad is decked out in the snappy home reds tonight. The Ducks are in their road whites trimmed in black, copper and orange with Ducks written across the chest.
Duff Goldman, the Ace of Cakes, gets us started with the Let's Play Hockey declaration. I'm all about cake. I'm all about hockey. Let's get it started.Period 1
18:25 - Ducks sniper Bobby Ryan bears down the slot and makes a nice toe drag move before flicking a heavy shot on goal, but Backstrom is on it, making a tough save for his first stop.
15:11 - There's too many smart guys playing in this game tonight. Darroll Powe
and George Parros both went to Princeton. Nick Johnson
is a Dartmouth guy. What happened to the days of dumb hockey players?
12:23 - Ooh. Nice little grab by a guy in Section 101 who catches a puck fired up into the crowd without hesitation. That thing has some giddy-up on it, but in Minnesota, we catch pucks in our mouths if we want to.11:13 - MIN 0 - ANA 1 - Never fear folks. The last four times the Ducks have played in this building, they've scored first. Each time, the Wild came back for the win. According to plan, the Ducks draw first blood courtesy of reigning MVP, Corey Perry. A rolling puck sent in from the point on an Anaheim power play bounces all over heck before Ryan Getzlaf slides it over to a wide open Perry on the edge of the crease. He doesn't have to do too much as he buries it into the empty net.
8:15 - There's the shooting prowess that Cal Clutterbuck
can bring to this "top" line. Koivu finds him cutting down the high slot, and Clutterbuck sends a screaming wrister up high that Jonas Hiller turns away with the waffle mitt.
7:27 - There it is again. This time, Clutterbuck beats Hiller with a missile from the right faceoff dot but he rings it off the cross bar. I've said it before and I'll say it again...Clutterbuck likes to shoot high.
3:25 - That was Christian "The Savior" Ponder up there on the big screen wearing a Minnesota Twins cap. He actually looks a lot like Joe Mauer with that hat on.
0:06.8 - The best Wild chance comes in the closing seconds as the Kyle Brodziak
line does some dirty work in the corner. Johnson gets the puck in front to Brodzy, and he flicks a shot that Hiller lunges to stop.
0:00 - That's 20 minutes in the books. The Wild will be facing a slight deficit coming out of the break, but certainly nothing to throw a scare into the boys.Period 2
17:41 - A near disaster here for the Wild as Backstrom leaves the puck at the side of the net for Jared Spurgeon
. The Spurge skates by to pick it up, but he hits it with the heel of his stick and nearly puts it in for an own goal. Instead the puck bounces off the side of the post and Backy quickly pounces on it for the faceoff.
14:48 - A second Wild power play ends without a goal, but just as it expires, Bouchard finds Guillaume Latendresse
loose in the slot. Gui fires a wrist shot from just above the hash marks, but again Hiller is there for the stop.12:59 - MIN 0 - ANA 2 - The deficit grows to two. After a nice play by Marco Scandella to snuff out a two-on-one, the Ducks regain control for a shot from the point. Backstrom makes that stop, but sticks in front pound away until the puck squirts out to Ryan. He deposits that one into the open net for his third of the season.
8:35 - A scoring chance and then a booming hit by Clutterbuck on Saku Koivu in front of the Wild bench brings this crowd to life. The Ducks don't like it and Ryan confronts Clutterbuck. After an exchange of words, things die down fairly quickly. Definitely some jump in the Wild skates right now.6:53 - MIN 1 - ANA 2 - There it is! A long-awaited power play goal gets the Wild on the board. And it's Spurgeon, who nearly put one in his own net, puts one past Hiller. It's Scandella who fires a long shot on goal that Hiller kicks out, but Spurge swoops into the right circle and calmly punches it into the yawning net before the Ducks keeper can dive over.
3:11 - Backstrom fights through a screen to make a desperation blocker save. He can't find the rebound and scrambles all about his crease, but Getzlaf pushes the rebound wide.
0:05.8 - Once again, the Wild has a glorious chance at the end of a period, but Hiller comes up big again. Heatley makes a nice backhand pass over to Koivu for a one-timer from the right circle. He gets good wood on the shot, but Hiller gets over to make a stellar pad stop.Period 316:02 - MIN 1 - ANA 3 - You don't want to give this star-studded Anaheim power play too many chances, because they can do this. From the side of the net, future Hall of Famer Selanne saucers a perfect pass over a sliding Justin Falk and Getzlaf has a lay up into the net. I don't know what it is, but Getzlaf just grates on me.
13:15 - The Wild power play has a chance the other way as a shot from the point wriggles its way to the front. It's there that Devin Setoguchi
seizes control and tries to stuff one in, but Hiller stretches out the leg for a stop. He then draws a hooking penalty on Setoguchi.
11:13 - A shorthanded opportunity as Powe leads a two-on-one into the Anaheim zone. The lone Duck back slides to take away the pass so Powe tries to go upstairs but is snuffed out by the lobster mitt of Hiller.
7:47 - That's a rough sequence for young Brett Bulmer
. In the neutral zone, he takes a dump in attempt in the chest, then gets skated over by Clutterbuck and then has a puck shot right back at his facial area. He looks a little dazed, but gets up and appears to be fine.6:06 - MIN 2 - ANA 3 - Ooooohhhh that's a biggie! The Wild power play strikes again at a crucial time. The puck is spun around the boards where it skips to Koivu at the top of the right circle. He quickly gets a shot toward the goal and Cullen is in front to put a perfect tip on it in midair. The puck squirts through Hiller's wickets and we're back within one.
2:52 - The Wild successfully kills off a Latendresse delay of game penalty, but seconds later Cullen is called for a trip. That's going to make things difficult.
0:00 - Ultimately, it's two late penalties that doom a Wild comeback. Redemption will have to come on Saturday when the Red Wings come to town.