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Happy Hockey Day Minnesota State of Hockey legion! Is this not the most wonderful time of the year my friends? I mean, non-stop hockey from 9:00 a.m. until well past your bedtime? In the business, we like to call that, "a good problem." And here at Wild.com, we're just trying to do our part to make this holiday season the best it can be. Even though today is all about hockey, it's dedicated to a special young man named Jack "Jabs" Jablonski, who most know as the young Benilde St. Margaret's hockey player who suffered a severe spinal cord injury during a game last month.
There's been a telethon going on all day, and I heard as of this afternoon that there has already been more than $80,000 dollars raised for the Jack Jablonski Trust Fund. We've still got time to accept donations, so if you have the means, give a ring to 651-726-8613 and pledge some money for a great kid, and a great cause.
Don't think your Minnesota Wild aren't motivated to have a big night against the Dallas Stars to round out this special day with a win. We've got the day being dedicated to "Jabs." We've got homeboy Matt Cullen
being honored before the game for playing 1,000 NHL games. And we've got the former North Stars in town, and the last time they were here, our boys knocked them out of playoff contention. Tonight, we'll do that again, but just not on the last day of the season.
The Wild will go with Josh Harding
in goal tonight, and I assume it's because we mean business. Harding is all business when he gets the start, and right now he's looking unbeatable in pregame warmups.
There's quite a roster shakeup going on tonight as well. Eden Prairie's Chad Rau
will fittingly make his NHL debut tonight on Hockey Day Minnesota (he'll score his first NHL goal too). Jed Ortmeyer
, Matt Kassian
and Nate Prosser
are all getting into the lineup as well. Mike Lundin
, Marek Zidlicky and Brad Staubitz will be healthy scratches, and of course Mikko Koivu
(upper body), Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion), Jarod Palmer
(concussion) and Guillaume Latendresse
(concussion) are out with injuries.
For this special day, the Wild will break out the green third jerseys. The Stars will go with the road whites trimmed in green and gold with the South Star on the chest. As we all know, the North Star refused to move with Norm Green. The North Star answers to no one.
The Cullen ceremony is complete, and he now has a silver stick. I don't think he's going to use it though.Period 1
20:00 - Cullen takes the opening draw against Vernon Fiddler, who gives a respectful stick tap on Cullen's shin guards to offer his congratulations. And here we go.
16:13 - Dallas is on its first power play, but it's Nick Schultz who is doing work down low, muscling guys off the puck and eventually getting it to Jared Spurgeon
, who flings it down the ice.
13:14 - A loose puck skitters out of the Wild zone and Dany Heatley
has a step on everybody. He catches up to it in the Dallas zone and comes in at a shallow angle. He cuts to the front and tries to stuff it in on the far side, but Kari Lehtonen stays with him and makes a big pad stop. The crowd was sensing something good there, too.
9:20 - Cal Clutterbuck
buzzes around the Dallas zone and wreaks all kinds of havoc as the Stars try to break out of the zone. Clutterbuck steals a pass in the high slot and then quickly dishes over to Devin Setoguchi
. He rifles a shot right on but Lehtonen absorbs that one in his chest protector.
7:01 - Justin Falk
is developing a massive hip check for his repertoire. Fiddler gets just across the red line before dumping the puck in, but Falk is there with a huge hip check that puts Fiddler right on his butt.1:22 - MIN 0 - DAL 1 - There's Ol' Eric Nystrom down there doing what we saw so much of in a Wild sweater...well, four times. But the former Michigan Wolverine hounds his old NHL team by putting a tip on a shot from the point by Stephane Robidas. Nystrom was an all around good guy when he was a Wild player, but you can tell he feels pretty good about this as evidenced by a monstrous fist pump.
0:00 - The first period, which was the Wild's best in awhile, comes to an end in an unfriendly way. A late goal has them down by one, but there's plenty of time left in this one.Period 2
19:19 - Carson McMillan
crunches Niklas Grossman against the backboards with a massive check in the Dallas end. The hit is from the side, and clean, but Grossman is hobbled a bit as he gets to his feet.
12:47 - The Wild is showing some good push right now, but still nothing to show for it. Still, the fans seem to be sensing something positive is about to happen after Lehtonen smothers a shallow angle chance by Kyle Brodziak
11:23 - Rau is out there on the power play, and he very nearly bags one as the puck is thrown into the crease by Spurgeon. Clutterbuck is also in there battling, and when he falls to the ice, the always classy Steve Ott starts jamming his head on the ice. Please let Ott be as dumb as he looks and let him drop the gloves with Kassian tonight.10:54 - MIN 1 - DAL 1 - There it is! A lot of beautiful sights on this one as the Wild power play comes through. Heatley gets the puck behind the net and puts it into the right circle for Setoguchi. He snaps out of his scoreless funk by sniping one into the upper corner for a huge goal. If both the power play and Setoguchi can get going, things are going to be looking up real quick.
10:53 - Typical Ott, who immediately on the faceoff drops the gloves with...Darroll Powe
. Credit Ott, he sure knows how to pick his battles with guys who are much smaller and almost never fight. This one features zero punches landed and a quick fall to the ice for both players. Please, let Kassian have one go-round with Ott. Please, I don't ask for much on Hockey Day Minnesota. Just this.
9:20 - With four-on-four, there's plenty of open ice out there and that gives Cullen a chance for a breakaway. He gets in and tires to beat Lehtonen with a wrister. The Stars keeper makes that save, but the rebound pops right back to Cullen, who has another chance, but Lehtonen makes that stop as well.8:57 - MIN 1 - DAL 2 - The Stars grab the lead right back as Philip Larsen gets the puck at the point and fires a shot toward the net. Harding can't get a good look through former Wisconsin Badger Adam Burish, and the puck bounces off Harding's shoulder and into the upper corner.
8:41 - Here we go again. Immediately out of the box, Ott and Powe have their gloves off again. They both remove their helmets as well, and it's on. This one lasts a bit longer with a few more punches connecting, including when they go to the ice and Powe is on his back. I really, really can't stand Steve Ott.6:23 - MIN 2 - DAL 2 - Typical Clutter goal. As he enters the Dallas zone, the puck is caught up in his skates, so Stephane Robidas steps up to try and flatten him. Instead, Robidas bounces right off him and the puck lays there for Cullen to poke it ahead to Clutterbuck all alone in front. He makes one quick move to dodge a Lehtonen poke check and then roof a backhand.
6:09 - MIN 3 - DAL 2 - Best...Hockey Day...Ever! I don't want to say I told you so, but Chad Rau comes through with his first NHL goal, and it comes on Hockey Day. After getting knocked to the ice behind the Dallas net, McMillan keeps the forecheck going. Rau gets to his feet and picks up the loose puck before trying to jam it in on the wraparound. Lehtonen stops him, but Rau keeps working and puts the puck off the skate of Brendan Morrow and in.
5:25 - MIN 4 - DAL 2 - The roof is about to cave in this place. The Wild pumps in its third goal in less than a minute. Spurgeon dangles with the puck along the left boards and then sends a cross-zone pass to Heatley in the right circle. He throws a pass to the other side of the net where Brodziak raps it in. The crowd is going insane right now, and it is great to see this after the Wild's recent road woes.
0:00 - Now that was a good period of ice hockey, y'all. I don't think you're going to want to miss the final 20 of this one. Stick around won't you?Period 3
19:03 - Not too many pucks make it up to the suites behind the goal, but a deflected Stars shot rockets up and over the netting and lands in a suite.18:31 - MIN 5 - DAL 2 - Seems like a message is being sent by the Wild tonight. And what a night it's been for Heatley. He starts a two-on-one into the Dallas zone with Warren Peters on his left. He sends one over to Peters who returns the favor with a backdoor pass that Heatley deposits into the yawning cage. The best part of all of this is that Ott looks like someone just poured acid in his mouth.
15:10 - Larsen fires another long shot toward the goal and he hits Morrow at the side of the cage. He puts the puck behind Harding but the puck slides through the crease and Harding is able to dive back and poke it out of harm's way.
13:53 - Clutterbuck and Nystrom collide along the sideboards in the Wild end, and Clutterbuck goes into the boards awkwardly. He looks a little shaken and offers a glare to his former teammate who is skating away.
10:41 - Bodies continue to hit the floor as Peters and Robidas line each other up for a big collision. They both go down, but Peters gets the worst of this. He's slow to get up and hobbles back to the bench.
5:45 - Cullen nearly gives the Wild its highest goal total of the season by stickhandling through the high slot and wristing one on goal where Heatley is setting the screen. Former Colorado College Tiger Richard Bachman, who is now in goal, sees it at the last second and gets his right pad on it.
3:05 - Powe and Robidas are now exchanging words after the whistle. And wouldn't you know Ott can't resist the chance to skate over and jam his stick into Powe again.
0:00 - Now that's how you cap off a Hockey Day Minnesota my friends. The Wild gets a big win, and jumps back into playoff position.