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What's the haps State of Hockey legion? If you've found live in-game commentary, you're either a loyal reader, or you went way off course as you were trying to find video of the guy who dodged a foul ball and let his girlfriend get plunked. Well, I'm happy to provide that link
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Tonight, I am coming to you live from the Al Shaver Press Box inside the hockey mecca known as Xcel Energy Center. Tomorrow, this building will house thousands of acne-riddled kids just looking for a good time and a state championship. Next week, it will host a bunch of college-age students just looking for trouble and beer. But tonight, it's hosting the Minnesota Wild and the Colorado Avalanche in what promises to be a most memorable night.
Firstly, we've got Niklas Backstrom
rejecting the rubber for the good guys tonight. Right now, the unflappable Finn is getting warmed up and he's stopping pucks with ease. I haven't seen one get by him, and I don't intend to. The guy is going to have a monster night, and nothing more needs to be said about it. Just prepare yourself if you live in the Denver area, because you will want to forget this Fat Tuesday immediately, if not sooner.
Now then, the beautiful sight before me is Guillaume Latendresse
partaking in warmups. The Wild's top goal scorer from a year ago is back, baby. After missing 58 games, the big guy is back for the stretch run. We needed a guy to push us over that playoff hump, and he's the guy to do just that. In fact, on my scorecard, I've got him picking up two goals tonight. As for other injury news, you can scratch Clayton Stoner
(lower body), Cal Clutterbuck
(upper body), Mikko Koivu
(hand) and James Sheppard (knee). Those guys will be taking in tonight's action from the Al Shaver Press Box.
Finally, I've got some fashion news for you. The Wild will break out the green third jerseys for tonight's tilt. At the other end, the Avs will go with the road whites trimmed in black, burgundy and blue with the snowy "A" on the chest.
Twin Cities Live hosts John Hanson and Elizabeth Ries get us going with tonight's "Let's Play Hockey" declaration, and that's going to do it for the apps. Let's get to the main course.Period 1
18:04 - The Wild comes out with both guns firing to start this one. Jared Spurgeon
, the best gun-slinger since Brett Favre, cranks a slap shot that Peter Budaj gets a piece of. The puck drops behind him in the crease, but Budaj falls back and pounces on it before Warren Peters
can punch it in.
18:04 - On the ensuing faceoff, Latendresse comes off the bench for his first shift since October. The knowledgeable crowd recognizes it immediately and gives G-Lat a nice ovation.
16:56 - The Avs get their first chance of the game off a turnover deep in the Wild zone. Former Michigan Wolverine Kevin Porter has a bid from the right circle, but Backstrom comes high out of his net to make a great stop to get into a rhythym.
16:21 - Things are happening way faster than I can type at this point. Kyle Brodziak
makes a slick centering pass from behind the Wild net to Martin Havlat cutting to the net. Havlat catches it and then waits out a sprawling Budaj until he's got an empty net. Havlat looks to have an easy one, but from a shallow angle he misfires wide. He can only look to the rafters and wish he had a mulligan.
14:56 - The Spurge is feeling it right now. He pinches in low for a one-timer and this time he cranks it off the post. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that the little guy is going to score tonight. Not a question of if, but when.12:56 - MIN 1 - COL 0 - Marty might miss from three feet away, but he won't miss from one foot away. After Brent Burns makes a spectacular slap shot-pass to Havlat in front for a tip, the puck just misses wide. The puck hits the backboards where Brodziak is stationed, and he quickly throws a pass back to the crease. This time, Havlat punches it home for his 21st of the season.
11:12 - It's only fair that the Avs have a chance at a wide open net. With a scrum in front, the puck squirts to the side of the crease and Backstrom is on the ice. Daniel Winnik is there alone but the former New Hampshire Wildcat gets the yips and he shanks his shot wide.
4:10 - Almost as if he's trying to impress us even more, Havlat throws a pass toward the front of the net that hits a Colorado skate. That's actually a good thing because it ricochets directly to John Madden bearing down the slot. He rips a one-timer and just misses wide.
0:00 - That's going to do it for the first, which has the Wild leading on the board, but trailing in shots. That's surprising because the first period was all green and white.Period 2
18:33 - Looking to get something going on the power play, Havlat gets the puck down low and then cuts hard to the net, trying to stuff one in. Budaj makes that stop, and with the puck pinballing around, neither Brodziak nor Marek Zidlicky can get to the rebound.
16:38 - As it was in the first, it's all Wild here in the second. Greg Zanon makes a smart play at the point, just sending a wrist shot toward the traffic in front where Eric Nystrom makes a great tip. Budaj reacts nicely and sponges up that bid.
14:20 - Madden has easily been one of the most noticeable players on the ice tonight. He has another chance here, getting the puck on the right side and then putting a quick snapper on goal from about 10 feet out. 13:17 - MIN 1 - COL 1 - We just played two minutes of hockey that will go back on the clock because the Avs scored. A rebound pops to the left of Backstrom where Porter is lurking. He kicks the puck to his stick and then fires it into the back of the net and off the goal cam. The puck comes out so quickly that play continues for more than two minutes. But the replays don't lie. That puck was well over the goal line and we are square.
11:22 - Please don't be a broken finger. Zidlickly blocks a slap shot with his hand and he is in obvious pain as he goes back to the bench while Madden is on a partial break. After Madden's blast is snared nicely by Budaj, Zidlicky is walking straight to the locker room.
7:50 - Former Cornell Big Red Ryan O'Byrne steps up at the Wild blueline to try and lower the boom on Brad Staubitz. But O'Byrne is the one that ends up on his rump as Stauby flattens him with a cold shoulder. O'Byrne is currently wearing a full face mask because he received 100 stitches after taking a skate to the face. I suppose a full mask is acceptable in such a case.
5:29 - The Avs seem to be energized since the Porter tally as they've started to take the play to the Wild late in the second. Ryan Wilson sends a wrister from the near boards toward the goal and Winnik puts a deft deflection on it causing the puck to bounce in on Backstrom. The Wild keeper sticks with it and absorbs it in his chest protector.3:49 - MIN 1 - COL 2 - The Avs have been able to hang around in this one, and now they're suddenly on top thanks to the power play. Wild killer Milan Hejduk leans into a heavy slapper that Backstrom is able to get a glove on, but there is all kinds of traffic in front where former Denver University Pioneer Paul Stastny is able to punch the loose puck behind Backy.
0:00 - For a good minute after the final buzzer, Adam Foote can be seen screaming at referee Brad Meier. The important thing to remember here is that Foote is a lunatic.Period 3
16:40 - Zidlicky is out there now, so it appears his hand injury was a stinger and nothing more.
13:17 - The Avs are buzzing around again on another power play opportunity. Former Michigan Wolverine Matt Hunwick unleashes a rocket of a shot that skims through traffic until it reaches the waffle mitt of Backstrom and deflects into the netting above the glass.
11:59 - Again, Madden is wreaking all kinds of havoc and leading a two-on-one into the Colorado zone. He loses the puck for a bit which brings him deep in the zone, so he sends a saucer pass over to Havlat, but he can't connect.9:05 - MIN 3 - COL 2 - Boom! It was a matter of time, really. Madden has been a beast tonight, and he finally gets rewarded for it. Pressuring down low, the puck comes to Matt Cullen behind the net on the right side. He throws a pass to the top of the crease and the Mad Dog taps it in behind Budaj. Budaj? No. Boo-yah! (You have no idea how much I've been wanting to use that.)
6:30 - MIN 4 - COL 2 - Spuuuuuuurge! This was also a matter of time. The little man comes up big once again with a huge insurance goal. On a delayed Colorado penalty, Havlat is wheeling and dealing in the offensive zone. He finally has the puck knocked off his stick, but it slides right to Spurgeon cutting down the slot. In one fluid motion, he picks up the puck and then roofs a backhand past Budaj before being immediately bear hugged by Havlat and mobbed by his teammates.
2:40 - After Latendresse collides with Budaj, the frustrated netminder has had enough. He gets on G-Lats back as he's laying on the ice and starts shoving his face into the ice with his lobster mitt. He hits him one too many times, and finally the refs are going to call it. Budaj is getting busted for roughing.0:03.8 - MIN 5 - COL 2 - Bye bye Colorado. It was fun playing with you guys, but you're headed for golf season. Brodziak throws one into the empty net for the final nail in Colorado's coffin.
0:00 - After the buzzer, we've got some tempers flaring down in the Wild zone. But out at center ice, Budaj has his gloves on the ice and he wants to go with Backstrom. Even if Backy sees him out there, he's not going to be stupid. As it is, he's just watching things get sorted out. If you believe it, it's actually Foote who comes out to center ice to get Budaj and talk some sense into him.