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Happy Valentine's Day to all of the Cupids and Cupettes in the State of Hockey legion! Welcome to this special V-Day edition of live in-game commentary presented by the romantics at Sun Country Airlines. Guys, if you didn't buy your gal a flight to a warm locale via Sun Country, then I'm afraid you're in for a long night. But you've got some time to make something happen, and then you won't be reading tonight's in-game commentary all by your lonesome.
I want to thank you for spending this most romantic of holidays with me tonight. I feel like Simba when he discovered that he was in love with that hot little lionness named Nala. But it's time to get rid of these warm and fuzzy feelings because the Minnesota Wild is about to go face-to-face with those uglies from Anaheim, the Ducks. I don't think it's any secret that I have a dislike for the Ducks that runs deep like the roots of a sycamore. It's time to put these streaking Ducks in their place, and snap this four-game losing skid.
Don't let the rose on the goalie mask fool you. Josh Harding
has just as much hatred for the Ducks as I do. I have to imagine its chief among the many reasons that he's getting the start tonight. Another one is because he's primed for a big performance having not played since the nightmare against Nashville. If warmups are any indication, the kid they call "Hards" has put that game away, n'er to be mentioned again.
Please join me in welcoming Kris Foucault into the Wild fold. He'll be making his NHL debut tonight, and I'm not going to predict a goal from Foucault tonight. I'm actually predicting a Sam Gagner eight point night from Foucault, but I think it will come in the form of eight assists on eight Carson McMillan
goals. Foucault's presence is due to Cal Clutterbuck
sitting this one out with a charley horse. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion), Guillaume Latendresse
(concussion), Jarod Palmer
(concussion) and Clayton Stoner
(lower body) are all going to sit this one out.
To switch things up a bit, the Wild will wear their road whites despite this being a home game. They're giving the Ducks the chance to wear their black third jerseys trimmed in white, copper and orange with the big, webbed "D" on the chest. I hope the Ducks enjoy the kind gesture, because that's all they're getting tonight save for a few knocks to their teeth.
Fittingly, Donna Valentine from K102 is here to get us going with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. The love fest is on.Period 1
16:49 - Former Princeton Tiger George Parros is not the guy you want running into your goaltender. But he did get nudged by Nick Schultz before barreling into Harding and knocking him about five feet outside of his crease. Parros is heading to the penalty box where the cheaters roam.16:04 - MIN 1 - ANA 0 - A power play beauty. After working on the mad advantage extensively in practice yesterday, the Wild wastes no time in converting. From the point, Marek Zidlicky throws a beautiful backdoor pass to the left side of the net where Dany Heatley is stationed. The Heater continues his strong play by just putting an easy tip on it past Jonas Hiller. That's the first shot on goal for either team, and it's good for a point for the good guys.
12:57 - Some good work in the offensive zone leads to another scoring chance. Matt Kassian
wins a battle along the far boards and puts the puck into the slot to Warren Peters
, who chips it over to Darroll Powe
for a quick shot that Hiller has to come up big on.
9:32 - The Valentine's Day heavyweight bout is on. Matt Kassian
and Parros drop the gloves and circle each other at center ice. After some posturing, they tangle and go at it. While neither lands a crushing blow, Kassian definitely has the edge in punches landed. This one goes for awhile before they end up in a pretty heartwarming bear hug that the refs have to jump in to separate.
4:03 - Anaheim's Big Three are wreaking all kinds of havoc in Harding's crease as Ryan Getzlaf puts the puck toward the net. Harding makes that save, but Corey Perry chips the rebound over Harding and off the post. The puck ping-pongs inside the crease with all kinds of bodies in there, but Harding is finally able to cover up.
0:00 - The Wild puts in 20 good minutes of work there and now has a 1-0 lead. They'll do some strategizing in the intermission and then come back with a few more tallies in the second.Period 2
18:33 - The Wild survives a bizarre play when an Anaheim dump in rings around the backboards and then hits a seam. The biscuit bounds right into the slot where its overskated by former Boston University Terrier Nick Bonino and then is picked up by Matt Beleskey. He has Harding way out of the net, but he misses everything with his shot that sails over the cage.
16:50 - Peters delivers a big hit that not only rattles Niklas Hagman, but also catches linesman Mike Cvik standing at the Wild blueline. Cvik is going to be bruised up tomorrow.
14:10 - The Wild power play has looked very solid tonight. They've already got one goal, and they're moving the puck at will on this one. Matt Cullen
winds up from the blueline and gets a missle through traffic, but Hiller sees it and gloves it.
10:14 - Mikko Koivu
wins a battle for the puck in the Anaheim corner and then puts a pass into the slot, right on the tape of Powe. His quick one-timer is snuffed out nicely on a sliding stop from Hiller.
3:10 - Whoops. Carson McMillan
gets his stick up too high and clips a Duck in the face. That's going to earn him four minutes in the box, and gives the Ducks scorers a chance to inflict damage.
0:16.3 - Harding's had some help from the red posts behind him tonight. Getzlaf fires a missile that clanks off the cross bar.
0:00 - So far so good on the Wild PK. They haven't given the Ducks a sniff other than the Getzlaf cross bar shot, but they've got 50 more seconds to kill off to start the third.Period 3
18:29 - Koivu takes the puck coast-to-coast and then makes a great move once inside the Anaheim zone to create a chance. He puts the puck right on Heatley's stick as he cuts to the net, but he can't get a good handle before shooting and Hiller makes the stop.
16:26 - The Ducks are getting all kinds of scoring chances right now, but they're either missing the net, or Harding is coming up large and in charge. From behind the net, Perry finds Getzlaf with a pass in the high slot. He one-times a laser aimed for the low glove side, but Harding is able to get the lobster mitt out there and snare it about a foot from the goal line.11:43 - MIN 1 - ANA 1 - The Ducks are finally able to break through on Harding on an unlucky play for the good guys. Deep in the Wild zone, Koivu tries to make a move to avoid a stick check, but he loses control of the puck and it goes right to Hagman alone in front. He pulls the puck to the forehand and Harding stays with him to make what appears to be a great save, but the puck drops behind him and just does trickle over the goal line.
8:39 - Is the Koivu brother relationship strained? Not likely, but those two go at it when Saku dumps Mikko behind the Anaheim net. Mikko wants a penalty, but he won't get it. So as play goes on, he pitchforks his older brother about three times in the back of the leg. 7:39 - MIN 1 - ANA 2 - Oy! It's tough to keep those Anaheim big guns quiet for an entire game, and Perry finally bags one. Last year's MVP steams up the left side and cuts to the net before pumping a shot from close range that gets between the arm and body of Harding. It's been a nightmarish third period for the home team, having given up two goals and not registered a shot.
5:11 - The fans are rightfully furious as the refs completely miss an obvious hook by Luca Sbisa on Erik Christensen
in front of the Anaheim net. Then, as the play goes down to the Wild end, they call Nate Prosser
for a weak hook. Not a good sequence for the zebras.
3:40 - Oh my! Look out Dennis LaRue! The rough night for the refs continues as Cam Fowler skates just past the red line and winds up to dump the puck in with a big slap shot. This thing goes straight at LaRue, the official, and drills him in the shoulder. He goes down hard, but it looks like he'll be okay and he stays out there.
1:35 - Hiller continues to come up with the saves, this time coming out on Brodziak during an oddman rush and sponging up his wrister in his chest protector.
0:16.8 - I mean, it's crazy. The Wild has a furious scramble and damn near every guy in a white jersey has a chance to put it home, but Hiller holds his ground and the puck finally bounces out of harm's way. Nothing is going the Wild's way right now. Nothing.
0:00 - Another tough one, folks. What can you say? It just isn't there for the good guys tonight and they drop another one on the homestand with one more left on Thursday against Winnipeg.