This page will automatically refresh every 60 seconds.
Hi there State of Hockey legion. As I sit in my beloved perch in the Al Shaver Press Box high above a sheet of frozen water at Xcel Energy Center, I feel the need to make a confession about a drug that I'm on. It's called "live in-game commentary" and I'm going to make it available to you once again even though there is a good chance that it will melt your face.
After all, the Wild are looking to continue their bi-winning ways against the Chicago Blackhawks who tied with our boys in the ultra-tight Western Conference standings. It's also the Wild's first game in the post-Anton Khudobin era. Here's a shout out to Anton, who provided some of the greatest quotes and interview antics I've ever seen...well, at least until Charlie Sheen's interview today. I'd like to use this space to bid adieu to Mr. Khudobin and tell the Bruins website guys that they're getting quite the character.
Now then, I'm tired of pretending that Niklas Backstrom
is not a total freaking rock star from Mars. The guy might not even be from Mars because I don't think he's from this universe. He might even be a robot free of malfunctions. All's I know is that he's the Wild's starting goaltender tonight and he's about to unflinchingly stop Blackhawk shots at will. He's about to send a message to the red hot Hawks that they might make the playoffs, but it won't be at the expense of the Wild.
As for the lineup tonight, you can scratch Mikko Koivu
(hand), Guillaume Latendresse
(abdominal) and Cam Barker (upper body) from your homemade game programs. All are sitting out due to various maladies. The Wild won't have a healthy scratch tonight, which means Kyle Brodziak
is back in the lineup.
Did you watch Live from the Red Carpet last night? I sure did, but I didn't see any outfits as stunning as the green third jerseys the Wild are sporting tonight. Nor did I see an ensemble quite as nice as the Hawks' road whites trimmed in black and red with the stoic Native Amercian on the chest.
Minnetonka's Julie Friend, the top Goaltender in the state, and Warroad's Karly Sylvester, Minnesota's Ms. Hockey, get us going with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. I see no reason to disobey some of the best players in the State of Hockey. Let's melt some faces.Period 1
15:37 - A long shot from the point by Brian Campbell is stopped by Backstrom, but he's unable to control the rebound as it pops out to Michael Frolik alone in front. Frolik tries to reach around Backstrom but puts his shot off the outside of the post.
11:00 - There's been very little thus far in terms of scoring chances, but the Hawks control the Wild zone for a spell here. Eventually, Bryan Bickell fires a high wrist shot on goal but Backstrom easily gloves it with the lobster mitt and hangs on for a much-needed change.
7:55 - The Wild gets its best chance after a long shot from the point pinballs around in front of Corey Crawford. Kyle Brodziak
puts the rebound on goal, and the puck bounces straight up in the air and is batted out to the point by the hand of former Michigan State Spartan, Duncan Keith. The puck lands right in front of Brent Burns who crushes a shot right back on net, and Crawford goes old school, stacking the pillows for a big save in the crease.
4:16 - Jared Spurgeon
packs a punch in that little body of his. He steps up on Viktor Stalberg as he enters the Wild zone and crushes the former Vermont Catamount against the glass. I don't know if the crowd is screaming exceptionally loud because it's the little guy laying out Blackhawks, or because there hasn't been a ton of action early in this one.
2:24 - Backstrom makes another one look easy as he slides to his left and takes away a quick chip shot by Dave Bolland. Chicago now owns a 14-8 shot advantage here in the first.
0:00 - That will do it for the first. The Wild heads to the locker room in a deadlock. A few refreshments and they'll be back out ready to "dent the twine" a few times.Period 2
19:16 - MIN 0 - CHI 1 - Uncalled for. As if I didn't already have enough reason to resent Patrick Sharp, the sexiest man in Chicago, now he hangs one on our boys. It's actually former North Dakota Fighting Sioux Jonathan Toews that sets this one up by juking behind the Chicago net before finding Sharp in the lower half of the right circle. The other former Catamount cracks a one-timer and puts it just inside the far post.
13:38 - MIN 0 - CHI 2 - There are too many Blackhawk fans on this earth. They are cheering loudly right now as Campbell fires a slap shot through traffic that Backstrom takes with the upper body. The rebound comes out to the front where Stalberg bats at it and Tomas Kopecky finishes the play by hammering the loose puck into an empty net.
7:59 - The Wild needs a spark right now, and Burns nearly provides it. Andrew Brunette circles behind the Hawk net and lays one into the right circle for a heavy one-timer by Burns. He gets all of it, but Crawford flashes the right leg pillow and makes his best stop of the young evening.5:58 - MIN 0 - CHI 3 - I don't like the way this period is going. Patrick Kane enters the Wild zone on a two-on-one with Toews streaking up the left side. Kane saucers a beauty over the outstretched stick of Clayton Stoner and Toews easily punches it in. Not cool.
5:42 - This is even less cool. Brad Staubitz lays a clean hit on Brian Campbell behind the Chicago net. Campbell is facing Staubitz, not the boards, and yet Stauby gets the call for boarding. Immediately, former Michigan Tech Husky John Scott jumps Staubitz and starts hammering on him, not even letting him get the gloves off. That is the definition of instigating, and this is the definition of a mismatch. Stauby is giving up a lot of inches and pounds to Big John, who goes bombs away with that long reach of his.
3:27 - Cal Clutterbuck
levels the newly re-signed Brent Seabrook against the boards, and then delivers another quick blow to him behind the play as he tries to get up. This might be the first time I've seen an opposing player actually brush off a Clutterbuck hit and not react with a slash or facewash. Period 319:15 - MIN 1 - CHI 3 - It starts with one, so getting that one in the first minute of the third period is sweet like cupcakes. From his own blueline, Clutterbuck spots Havlat streaking across the rink on the other side and behind the Chicago defense. Clutter hits him in stride and now it's all between Marty and Crawford. The former Hawk offers the shoulder fake and then gets Crawford shifting to his left, so he goes to his left and tucks it past the pad. That ought to get this crowd into it.
14:39 - Sharp has a shorthanded breakaway on a Wild power play that isn't getting much going. Sharp's attempt is stopped, but the puck bounces around and nearly goes in off the skate of former Wisconsin Badger Jake Dowell. Fortunately, Backstrom has his pad laid down for an impenetrable wall.
8:18 - The Wild power play is trying to get things going deep in the Chicago zone. Marek Zidlicky dangles down low and has Crawford on the ice, but he can't find a lane to get the puck to an open man so he has to continue to work it around. The puck finally makes its way to Havlat at the high slot, but his long shot is snuffed out by Crawford once again.4:12 - MIN 2 - CHI 3 - It continues with two, so getting that second in the 15th minute of the third is tasty like steak. After another big save by Backstrom on Sharp, the Wild send an all out rush the other way. Havlat dishes to Brodziak as they enter the zone. Brodzy drops a pass back to an onrushing Burns who has his first rocket stopped. He continues to crash the net and eventually bangs in a no-look backhand for his 16th goal of the season, breaking his own franchise record for goals be a defenseman. It is on, yo!
3:22 - Kopecky flips the puck into the crowd from his own zone, and that means the Wild will have two minutes to try and get this thing tied up on the power play.1:53 - MIN 2 - CHI 4 - An absolutely insane sequence of events results in a Chicago shorthanded goal the other way. After repeated shots on Crawford get turned away, the crowd starts coming unglued. But the elation turns to anguish when Bouchard dives valiantly to hold the zone but knocks the puck to Toews. He leads the two-on-one the other way and finds Marian Hossa on the other side who buries one past the sliding Backstrom. That doesn't feel right. I was certain the tying goal was on the stick of about four different guys there.
0:00 - A valiant effort in the third period isn't enough for the W's come up on the wrong end of a 4-2 score. Fear not. We're still in playoff position, and we've got some East Coast patsies on the docket.