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What is up my State of Hockey legion brothers and sisters? Welcome to the happiest place on the World Wide Web as I come to you from the happiest place on Earth, my perch in the Al Shaver Press Box. Yes, I'm surrounded by those Negative Nancies, also known as the bottom-feeding media, but I'm not about to let that get me down. Life is too short to spend time on the things that get us down, and there are just so many good things about this thing we call life to not give them their proper respect.
Life doesn't get much better than pounding down a free press meal and then kicking back to watch pregame warmups. To use a phrase I came up with one day while singing in the shower, it's the "calm before the storm." Catchy line there, is it not? Feel free to use that anytime you've got some chaotic event coming up, but make sure you say it when things are relaxed and not much is going on before said chaos.
And speaking of calm and chaos, nobody stays more relaxed through a clown show than tonight's starting Wild goaltender, Jose Theodore. After all, he just stopped 40 of 41 shots in Madison Square Garden, where I believe they light firecrackers and sparklers during
play. You can't get away with that anywhere except in New York, because New Yorkers are better than the rest of us in every way. Just ask them.
Like I said, sometimes life contains annoying things like roaches, mold, Trevor Gillies and injuries to Wild players. For example, Cal Clutterbuck
is out due to an upper body injury. Cam Barker (upper body), Guillaume Latendresse
(abdominal) and Mikko Koivu
(hand) are also out due to injuries. Again, there's no sense in focusing on the negatives. Let's get back to the meat and potatoes.
If fashion is your thing, I've got your back. The Wild is going with the home reds for this one. The Sabres are sporting the road whites trimmed in yellow and blue with the buffalo (also known as "tehtonka" leaping over a pair of crossed blades. Those are just great unis that bring me back to the Grant Fuhr Sabres jersey I used to sport in my high school years. The chicks totally dug it.
Peter Best, the creative genius behind Niklas Backstrom
's goalie mask design, gets us going with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. Considering he nailed it with the mask design, you expect him to nail his vocal delivery...which he does. Let's do this thing.Period 1
18:37 - MIN 0 - BUF 1 - This is what you'd call a passing clinic put on by the red hot Sabres. Entering the zone on an odd-man rush, Jason Pominville sends the puck over to Thomas Vanek on the left wing. The former Gopher star then drops another pass back to onrushing defenseman Steve Montador, who makes one nice move and then dishes to the top of the crease for an easy tap in for Pominville. Not something we needed to see this early in the show, but still pretty to watch.
17:20 - The Sabres are bringing the heat early in this one. This is their third odd man rush in less than three minuts as Cody McCormick enters the zone on the right side with Rob Niedermayer on the left. Instead of passing, McCormick fires one from close range that Theodore kicks out with the leg pillow. Yeesh! Time to tilt the ice the other way.
14:03 - I just looked behind me over my left shoulder to see Clutterbuck sitting in one of the TV booths here in the Al Shaver Press Box. He doesn't look pleased to be watching this game. I think I may go up there at intermission to see if he wants to pound me into the wall with a huge (but clean) body check. I just want to lift the guy's spirits.
10:36 - The Wild is starting to find their legs and they get their first odd man rush of the night. Matt Cullen
races up the right side with John Madden on the left. Cullen tries to go upstairs with a laser wrist shot, but goaltender Jhonas Enroth comes up with a big save. Yes, Jhonas Enroth is the Buffalo keeper tonight and former Michigan State Spartan Ryan Miller isn't even dressed today.
9:01 - Vanek still has those amazing hands he displayed at Mariucci Arena on more than one occasion. He makes a sick move to get around Greg Zanon, but he misses wide with his shot from in tight.
7:09 - Warren Peters
is getting some time in between Martin Havlat and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
. His hustle is on display as the Wild hems the Sabres in their own zone. Havlat then gets the puck out front to Peters who whips a shot to the short side that Enroth turns away with his toe.
0:00 - After a slow start, the Wild improves drastically in the last 10 minutes of the first period. They'll head to the dressing room down a goal, which is nothing more than dirt on the shoulder at this point. Go on brush your shoulders off.Period 2
19:06 - The Sabres come out firing again due to a power play to start the second. Former Minnesota Gopher Jordan Leopold fires a shot on goal from the point, and the rebound is pretty juicy. Former North Dakota Fighting Sioux Drew Stafford gets to it and pumps a shot just wide with Theodore scrambling.17:56 - MIN 0 - BUF 2 - The Sabres are coming out of the gates hard to start these first two periods. They up the ante as Andrej Sekera gets low in the Wild zone and puts a bad angle shot on goal. Theodore makes the stop, but the puck drops straight down and Rob Niedermayer is right where he needs to be. He raps the puck in from just a few feet out for his first of the season.
14:38 - There's some extracurriculars going on behind the play in front of the benches. Brad Staubitz gets tangled up with Patrick Kaleta. It looks like Stauby wants to get a tussle going, but Kaleta isn't about to let Staubitz get the crowd going with a bout.
12:26 - The puck takes a wicked bounce along the sideboards and pops right to John Madden in the low slot. He cranks a one-timer but just misses wide.5:47 - MIN 1 - BUF 2 - Warren P is regulating! Peters gets his first-ever goal in a Wild uniform, and he becomes the first Wild player ever to wear number 43 and score a goal. Now on the fourth line, Peters goes hard to the net as Staubitz hustles after a puck sliding low in the Sabres zone. He throws a pass to the crease, and Peters doesn't miss from there. He bangs it home and this place is going Charlie Sheen crazy.
3:59 - On a delayed penalty, the Wild work the puck around the Buffalo zone before Bouchard throws a pass back to Marek Zidlicky at the point. Zid tries to one-time one so hard it would break the sound barrier, but he catches none of the puck and falls flat on the ice. Sorry, but that's humorous.2:27 - MIN 2 - BUF 2 - Who's laughing now punk? This time, Zidlicky connects on his one-timer as Bouchard finds him once again lurking in the slot. Zid takes a little bit off this one and just punches it toward the goal, and with Kyle Brodziak setting a perfect screen, he buries it. We apear to be tied, friends.
0:08.5 - Look out! Zanon tries to beat the buzzer with a one-timer and he drills it right into Kaleta's lower body, and he goes down in a heap. He is down on the ice for quite awhile, but is finally helped off the ice by a couple teammates.Period 3
18:18 - This time it's the Wild coming out with a charge to start a period. They are moving the puck masterfully and Bouchard makes a beautiful pass into the slot for a cutting Brodziak. He takes one step and then pumps a quick shot but just misses wide.
15:15 - The Wild gets a little careless in its own end and an errant breakout pass is stolen by Tim Connolly at the Minnesota blueline. He takes advantage of some open space to stride in and then zip a wrist shot that beats Theodore and clanks off the pipe.
13:45 - Bodies are now hitting the floor and the action is going end-to-end. Zanon flips Paul Gaustad with a hip check just seconds before Peters gets crunched by Matt Mancari with an open ice hit.
11:00 - A Niedermayer shot from the sideboards eludes several bodies and nearly catches Theodore by surprise, but he reacts in time to sponge up the shot. Several Sabres get into his personal space, so Clayton Stoner
ends up dropping the gloves with McCormick. Stoner has the edge early, but McCormick throws a haymaker and the two tumble to the ice. Everything you could want in game, this one has had it.
7:50 - Theodore is starting to come up with some huge stops. He makes a toe save on Pominville and then comes up with another stop off a blast from Sekera. These teams are just trading blows in this period but both goaltenders are coming up with big stops.
5:41 - Now Andrew Brunette has a lone breakaway as the puck richochets off the boards into the slot where Bruno is the only man standing. He walks right in on Enroth and goes to the backhand, but the Sabres netminder again is right there to stuff him.
0:00 - One point is secured. The Wild will pick the other one up in just a few minutes. We're headed for some bonus hockey. Overtime
4:14 - MIN 2 - BUF 3 - It's over. Stafford continues his breakout season with a stunning individual effort. He goes to the outside as he's being hounded by Brent Burns, but he's able to muscle his way to the front of the net to stuff one past the outstretched leg of Theodore. It's a tough end to a fantastic hockey game.