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Give us a hug, State of Hockey legion! Or have you forgotten that it is National Hug Day here in the U.S. of A? I sure haven't. I've been walking around Xcel Energy Center offering up hugs like the guy in the Dave Matthews Band "Everyday" video. I didn't care if they were men, women, children or Bertuzzi's. Some were bear hugs, some were group hugs and some were the "hey dude, let's shake hands with one hand while quickly hugging with the other so nobody thinks we're weird" hugs. That's the hug I had with Bertuzzi.
So, while I wish I could hug the dozens of live in-game commentary fans out there, I can only offer tonight's version from my perch in the Al Shaver Press Box. It will feature cuddly and huggable Minnesota Wild and the prickly Detroit Red Wings. With the state of the auto industry being the way it is, and the way our Minnesota Twins wrecked the end of summer for the Detroit sporting public, the people of Detroit could probably use a hug right now. But, it will have to wait.
I have some bad news for the Motor City. I've been watching Josh Harding
take warmup shots and he is dialed in tonight. He has stopped 63 of the last 64 shots he's faced, and it looks to this scribe as if he's going to keep that hot streak going.
The other bit of bad news for those of you in 8 Mile is that Brent Burns is returning to the lineup after missing 29 games. The kid with the motor that never quits is back out there, and ready to bolster his team's chances as it makes a run at the postseason. Big John Scott and Derek Boogaard are going to be the healthy scratches tonight.
As for the unis in tonight's game, the Wild will wear the sweet home reds for this one. The Red Wings will go with the classic road whites trimmed in red with the flying wheel on the chest.
Megan Newquist, the anchor from Channel 45 news gets us going with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. Hey Megan, this just in...you got it!Period 1
17:51 - Several cheers go up from the crowd as Burns makes his first appearance on the ice and makes a quick play to gain the Detroit zone. Always good to see the Big Ocho on the ice.
15:03 - Five minutes into the game, the Wild gets its first two shots on goal, and they're both good ones. Guillaume Latendresse
sends a wrist shot right on from the left circle. Former Maine Black Bear Jimmy Howard makes a pad save, and the rebound bounces right into the slot. Marty Havlat is there, but he's unable to knock in the bouncing puck. The puck then comes to the point, and Burns sends a long shot in that Howard swallows up.
13:42 - The Wild very nearly gives up its 10th shorthanded goal of the season as Darren Helm has a lone breakaway on Harding. He tries to make a move, but forgets the puck and it rolls in on Harding, who gets has the handle of his stick laying flat, and keeping the puck out. Former Boston College Eagle Patrick Eaves follows the rebound and tries to stuff it in, but Harding, laying on his belly, kicks his toe up against the pipe and keeps it out.12:08 - MIN 0 - DET 1 - Oh, goodie. Todd Bertuzzi scores on a breakaway. After a turnover in the Detroit zone, Bertuzzi heads right to the Wild zone as Pavel Datsyuk feathers a perfect lead pass to spring him in alone. The lovable Bert roofs a quick wrist shot to give the Wild another early deficit. Bertuzzi gets heartily booed when he's announced as the scorer, but I don't think he cares much at this point.
5:59 - Cal Clutterbuck
is going to the box on a trumped up charge of high sticking. While he's battling for the puck, Clutter's stick is high in the air, but it doesn't make contact with anybody, even as he gets knocked on his can.
4:48 - Harding comes up with a huge save on the Wings power play. Ville Leino gets the puck on the left doorstep and Harding dives at him before knocking the puck out of midair with his glove. Leino then goes around to the other side and throws the puck into the crease, where it hits puck magnet Nick Schultz and deflects just wide of the cage.
0:00 - Apparently the first period doldrums haven't been shaken just yet. The Wild heads to the locker room down a goal, and trailing in shots, 11-3.Period 2
20:00 - Some interesting news here. Niklas Backstrom
is now between the pipes. One would have to assume that Harding hurt himself at some point in that first period. He certainly played well despite whatever was or is bothering him.
15:25 - What is going on? Somehow Bertuzzi is allowed to have another lone breakaway. He's not even skating hard and there's nobody near him as he glides in on Backstrom. He fakes a shot, getting Backstrom to commit, and then he completely forgets to shoot the puck toward an open net. He finally does shoot when he runs out of room and puts it off the outside of the post.
13:37 - A long shot from the point is stopped by Howard, who leaves another huge rebound. Clutter puts a shot right on, but somehow, a sprawling Howard makes the stop and keeps the bagel up on the scoreboard for the good guys.
10:28 - Howard gloves a Burns rocket from the point to draw just the second whistle of the period. The first came early on in the stanza, so now there is a flood of people walking to their seats from the concourse.7:26 - MIN 1 - DET 1 - Just like you draw it up! Shane Hnidy cranks a slap shot that glances off the post and hits the backboards. The puck then pops high in the air and back toward the goal. Robbie Earl crashes the net, and gets pushed from behind by Brad Stuart. As that happens, the puck hits Earl's body and bounces in right before the net is knocked off. The refs go upstairs, and to Toronto for a lengthy review, but this one is going to count Click here to watch it on Wild TV and make your own judgement. It's another marker for Big Earl.
5:57 - Havlat makes a dazzling move behind the Detroit net before throwing a pass back to Kyle Brodziak
for a quick shot from close range. Brodzy tries to go upstairs, but Howard lunges and gets a piece of it with his shoulder.
0:43.3 - Don't go to Howard's glove side. He makes those saves look easy. Schultz crushes a slapper from the point that zips about a foot off the ground and looks pegged for the back of the net. Howard goes into the splits and snares it with the lobster mitt before offering a bit of a Statue of Liberty pose just to show he's got it.Period 3
17:32 - MIN 1 - DET 2 - The Wings take the lead back as Eaves jumps on a rebound after Helm walks out front and tries to stuff one in. Backstrom made that save, but he doesn't have a chance to stop Eaves on this one. A rather loud cheer goes up on this one, but I'm not sure if that's because of a decent-sized Detroit contingent in the building, or a large number of Eaves fans from his days at Shattuck.
10:57 - MIN 1 - DET 3 - Uh oh. Derek Meech fires a rising slapper from the point and on its way to the goal, former Michigan State Spartan Drew Miller puts his stick in the air and tips it. The puck bounces straight down and bounces past everybody, including Backstrom.
8:20 - The Wild generates a great chance as Eric Belanger slings the puck toward the slot from the blue line. That's where Owen Nolan is standing, and he puts a perfect deflection on the shot. Howard is going the other way, but he drops the left leg pillow back to make a big stop.6:12 - MIN 2 - DET 3 - We need this one. It's under review again, but this one should count. If Howard has had a weakness tonight, it's been giving up rebounds on the point shots. He gives up another one, and Brodziak battles hard for the rebound. He lunges for the puck and knocks it toward the goal. It hits off Havlat's skate on its way in, but he definitely doesn't kick it. Once again, the replay officials get it right, and the goal stands.
5:12 - MIN 3 - DET 3 - Yes! We've got ourselves a new ball game. You wouldn't call any of these Wild goals pretty, but they're effective. Hnidy fires another shot from the point, and it gets popped high into the air and floats toward the slot. Brunette and a pair of Wing players reach up and knock the puck down, and Bruno quickly fires it past Howard. Huge goal in a crucial situation.
0:00 - We are headed to overtime, where the Wild will try to pick up a second point.Overtime
4:13 - The Wild has a golden opportunity on a three-on-two rush, and Zidlicky has all kinds of time to walk in on Howard. He tries to pick his spot with a wrister, but he puts it off of Niklas Lidstrom, who is a decent defenseman.
2:25 - The Wild has completely dominated here in overtime. Owen Nolan and Eric Belanger have a great shift filled with scoring opportunities for themselves and the defensemen (Kim Johnsson and Nick Schultz) that are on the ice with them.
0:00 - A lot of action, but no payoff in overtime. We're headed to a shootout.Shootout
The Wild will go first, and it's going to be Koivu off the bat. He decides to go with the quick wrist shot to the blocker side, but Howard gets enough of it. Now, it's puck wizard Datsyuk, and he calmly glides in, makes a couple moves, and slides a backhand under Backstrom.
Latendresse will try to tie it. He makes a move to the forehand and gets Howard to go down, but he slides his shot right through the crease.
Zetterberg can win it here. He tries a slick move by dropping it back on his backhand, but Backstrom keeps hopes alive. Ride 'em Cowboy! Nolan keeps the game going by tucking one past Howard to knot this thing at 1-1.
Bertuzzi can still win it, but Backy snuffs out the backhand.
Now in sudden death, here's Havlat for the lead...no. His attempt to slide a backhand through the wickets is denied.
It's Leino's turn, but nothing doing. Backstrom plays it perfectly, and the shot goes wide.
Wouldn't this be something? Burns is up next, but his move is denied by Howard.
Again Detroit can win it with a Dan Cleary goal. He tries a wrister through the legs, but Backy says no. We keep going.
Miettinen looks to have a go-ahead goal on his stick, but his backhand over Howard strikes the post.
Here's Eaves...off the cross bar!There it is! Zidlicky flips one over Howard and the Wild can win it with one more save.
We keep going. Valterri Filppula deposits a wrist shot past Backstrom.
Here's Belanger. His fake slapper followed by a move to the forehand doesn't work.It's finally over, and the bad guys win. In the eighth round, Miller whips a wrist shot past Backstrom and the Wings get that important second point.