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Good evening State of Hockey legion, and a Happy Monkey Day to all of you. As you're well aware, Monkey Day started in the year 2000 to celebrate monkey business around the world. As you also know, monkeys are pretty darn cute, but they are more than that. They've taught us lessons about curiosity. They've climbed skyscrapers to rescue hot blonde ladies. Some have learned to communicate with humans via sign language. Others throw their feces and then laugh hysterically. It's all golden.
As I do every Monkey Day, I've donned my monkey suit, which fits in well with all the media monkeys up here in the Al Shaver Press Box. I'm just glad you took time out of your night of watching "Ed" so you could enjoy tonight's live in-game commentary. If you thought last night's action was more fun than a barrel of monkeys, you're in for a Monday Day treat tonight. We've got the Best in the West (the Minnesota Wild) going up against the best of the rest (the Chicago Spazzes, also known as the Blackhawks).
I'm not going to sugarcoat things tonight. I'm just going to flat out say that the Blackhawks are in for a rough night. Niklas Backstrom
is back in the cage tonight, and if there's one guy that doesn't monkey around even on Monkey Day, it's Backy. That's especially true when he plays the day after having a win taken away from him despite a brilliant performance. He gets that "W" tonight.
He'll get that victory despite the fact that Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(facial injury) will miss tonight's action no thanks to Zach Bogosian. Justin Falk
(upper body), Devin Setoguchi
(lower body) and
(upper body) are all out. Greg Zanon and Casey Wellman are tonight's healthy scratches. That's the bad news. The good news is that Marek Zidlicky is back from his concussion, as is Matt Cullen
who was ill yesterday. Mark both of those guys down for a pair of multi-point games tonight.
As for fasion, the Wild are breaking out their special green third jerseys for this one. The Blackhawks will wear their classic road whites trimmed in black and red with the stoic Native American on the chest.
Former Minnesota Vikings star quarterback Brooks Bollinger is here to get us started with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. Despite his allegiances to the University of Wisconsin, we know not all Badgers are bad. We have one on our team, so let's suck it up and do this thing.Period 1
15:52 - That feisty little Patrick Kane loves that spin-o-rama move to get a backhand shot off. That's exactly what he pulls out here but Backstrom is no fool. He is able to kick that one away for the first save for either team tonight.
14:22 - Pipes are our friends...especially lately. A blocked shot from the point hits off a shin pad and bounces right to Dave Bolland at the left hash mark. He takes a golf club swing and connects on a shot that skips past Backstrom but clanks off the post.
13:55 - During the first TV timeout, the clip of ol' Andrew Brunette beating Patrick Roy and the Colorado Avalanche in the 2003 playoffs is shown on the big screen. The fans give Bruno a nice little homage to recognize his first return here since signing with Chicago in the offseason.
11:51 - Not today Marian Hossa. He tries some fancy move to try and get around Nick Schultz who is having none of it. He just stands up to the Slovakian sniper and plants him on the ice.
8:53 - The Wild is still looking for its first shot, but it's already laid a few big hits. This one is the biggest as Guillaume Latendresse
catches former Vermont Catamount Viktor Stalberg looking in the air and he blasts him in front of the Wild bench.
7:42 - Bruno's still got it. He's causing all varities of problems behind the Wild net as he controls the puck and uses that rump of his to shield defenders off. He finally wheels around to the front but his old friend Backy takes care of that.
3:08 - How do you even describe this play by Backstrom? When Kane strips the puck from Mikko Koivu
in the Wild end, he sends a pass to the front for former North Dakota Fighting Sioux Jonathan Toews all alone in front. Backstrom reaches out to poke check the puck, popping it straight up in the air. Still in harms way, Backstrom takes one more poke at it and knocks it out of the air.
2:59 - And there's the first shot on goal for the Wild and the standard bronx cheer as Ray Emery gloves it easily.
1:56 - This one isn't as easy for Emery. Darroll Powe
gets a pass down to Koivu at the bottom of the left circle. Mikko makes a nifty no-look pass to the slot for Dany Heatley
, who fires a shot that's stopped butterfly-style by Emery.
0:00 - Well, the Wild took a little time to get their legs in the first, but it's all good right now. We're deadlocked, which is nothing a little three-goal outburst in the second can't cure.Period 2
17:30 - There have been some frightening plays in and around Backstrom's crease tonight. This one makes the heart skip a beat or two when a blocked shot goes behind the Wild net. Bryan Bickell grabs it and throws it back into the crease where it hits Backstrom and lays there for a bit until finally being cleared out of harm's way.
16:31 - Here we go. The fans are up and screaming now as Brad Staubitz and Daniel Carcillo drop the gloves are center ice. These are two tough cowboys and they show it here. Carcillo looks to have the edge early with Staby a little off balance. But he recovers nicely and starts landing some vicious haymakers before toppling Carcillo and getting the win. He even picks up Carcillo's helmet on the way to the box, but unfortunately he just hands it to the ref rather than spiking it like Rob Gronkowski.
12:34 - The Blackhawks get to work on their first power play and nearly break this scoreless tie. Off a scramble in front, Backstrom is down and Jared Spurgeon
is in the crease with former Catamount Patrick Sharp getting a shot off in the slot. He puts it right in the middle of the crease and Backstrom is able to get a pad on it.
11:40 - This place is fired up an a very angry way. Matt Cullen
has a shorthanded breakaway but he's clipped from behind by Duncan Keith, who kicks Cullen's skate out from under him. Not only is there no penalty shot, there's not even a penalty on Chicago. Even worse, the refs give Cullen an unsportsmanlike penalty for saying something on the way back to the bench. That gives the Blackhawks a 5-on-3 and it gives the fans reason to go ballistic.10:41 - MIN 0 - CHI 1 - If fans could literally spit venom, it would be splattered all over the ice right now. Just after the two-man advantage expires, Sharp tries to put one in from the side of the net. Backstrom holds his ground there, but the puck eventually pops into the crease and Hossa punches it home. A fair amount of Blackhawk fans in the building start getting into it.
9:12 - MIN 0 - CHI 2 - Well you can't rally like the Wild do if you never trail, so we've got that going for us. The Blackhawks build a cushion on a rush into the zone by the Chicago checking line. Former Western Michigan Bronco Jamal Mayers carries up the right side and puts a pass to the middle for Marcus Kruger. He passes it off one more time to the left where Michael Frolik knocks it past Backstrom.
6:50 - MIN 1 - CHI 2 - And the rally begins...now! Latendresse hustles after the puck into the Chicago corner against ol' John Scott, the former Michigan Tech Husky. Their collision allows Nick Johnson to get the disc and send a perfect pass to Kyle Brodziak in front of the net. The leading goal scorer does what a leading goal scorer does, and that's patiently wait for Emery to start scrambling before roofing one over him. Big time goal right there.
4:19 - MIN 2 - CHI 2 - And the rally continues. Brunette commits a major error by sending a pass back to his defensemen who aren't there. That springs a two-on-one with Cullen carrying up the right side. He sends a pass over to Cal Clutterbuck, who gets to the net, makes a move and loses control of the puck. Not a problem. Cullen is right there and he gets just enough of it to popcorn it over the goal line for the equalizer.
1:00 - A puck in the neutral zone is chipped into the air and over the sideboards where VERSUS analyst Pierre McGuire catches it. He then flips it to a fan in the stands. What a guy!
0:00 - That was some entertainment right there. Grab yourself a breather and be ready to go for a fantastic finish. I'm not messing around. Period 3
14:46 - The Wild comes out skating hard to start the third. Johnson wins a race to a loose puck in the Chicago zone and pumps a shot on Emery who sponges it up in his leg pads.13:06 - MIN 2 - CHI 3 - What is wrong with you Jonathan Toews? You're killing our juju. A Wild clearing attempt is wired around the boards but Toews stops it along the right side. He then goes hard to the front of the net, waits out Backstrom and fires one upstairs. That kid is not a bad player.
11:51 - The Wild power play gets to work and so does Marek Zidlicky. That bomb of his has lost any of its steam as he shows with a rocket through a screen by Brodziak that Emery absorbs.
11:11 - After another big stop by Emery, there's a scramble in the crease that has Niklas Hjalmarsson knocking Koivu to the ice. That is not acceptable to the Wild captain who gets up and gets right in the face of the Hawks defenseman. I'm glad I'm not Niklas Hjalmarsson right now.
9:54 - We've got some more monkey business in front of Emery after a puck sails out of play. Keith and Brodziak are going at it pretty good before everybody jumps in, including Brent Seabrook and Koivu.
8:45 - Clutterbuck makes a bid for a tie game by speeding up the left side and letting go with that missile of a snap shot. He definitely surprises Emery with this one, but the boxing aficionado is just able to get a shoulder on it.
7:08 - Zidlicky retrieves a puck rolling along the sideboards in Chicago's end and throws a pass to the front of the net. Koivu puts a great tip on it, but Emery comes up with his biggest stop and doesn't leave any scraps with Heatley lurking for a rebound.5:04 - MIN 3 - CHI 3 - That's how you do that sucka! On a delayed penalty, the Wild gets six players out there and they work it around masterfully. Clayton Stoner hits Clutterbuck cruising up the right side of the zone and Cal puts it right to Koivu in front. He wastes no time in punching a shot past Emery for a huge tying goal. This place is going loco.
1:18 - You don't want Sharp leading a three-on-one in the closing minutes of a tie game. That's what happens here, but Sharp tries to surprise Backstrom with a shot up high that he takes away with the waffle mitt.
0:55.1 - How does he do it? Backstrom again comes up with a spectacular play to keep this thing tied. A loose puck is bouncing around and Stalberg dives to knock it in, but at the last instant, Backstrom gets his pad down. Remarkable.
0:00 - Both teams are going to get a point out of this, but the Wild will get another in this upcoming overtime.Overtime
3:11 - The Hawks are controlling the play here but they aren't doing much in the way of generating offense. Keith does rocket a shot from the point but Backstrom sees it all the way and catches it in the midsection.
0:41.2 - Marco Scandella
makes a spectacular rush deep into Chicago territory. He gets knocked down but keeps going and then puts one on the stick of Heatley right in front. The fans think this one is over, but Emery robs Heatley with a huge pad stop.
0:00 - Off we go to the shootout, where the Wild has won its last four. We can make it five in a few minutes.Shootout
Cullen is going to get this party started for the Wild. He tries to stick a quick shot throught the five hole but Emery closes the door.Toews is now up. He aims for the five hole and hits it, sneaking it past Backstrom.
Heatley looks to square it up, but he loses control mid-move and Emery has an easy time of it. Kane could end it with a goal here, and he does with a bizarre series of moves that seem to happen in slow motion before Backstrom slides to the left and Kane raps it into a yawning cage.