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Ho, ho, oooohhhh State of Hockey legion! Are you like me? Are the buttons on your dress shirt hanging on for dear life and putting everybody within 100 feet in immediate danger from being maimed by a flying clothes fastener because you ate way too much the last few days? I sure hope not. But I do hope you had a wonderful, safe and relaxing holiday over the past couple days. For some of you, the celebration is ongoing, or even just beginning if you celebrate Kwanzaa.
As for me, party time is over. It's time to get down to business, or as Ludacris might put it, biznass. It's gameday my friends, and things are about to get overheated inside Xcel Energy Center. A sellout crowd is going to be packed to the Zamborgan to watch the Wild run its win streak to four games by running the West's best out of town on the bus they rode in on this morning. The Wingies weren't allowed to travel yesterday per NHL rules, so they had to wake up early this morning to fly here, find a motel to get some shuteye, and then come to the arena for an early 6:00 p.m. start. I don't know much, but I do know the Wild is feeling zero pity for Detroit players, or their little cronies currently pressed up against the glass watching them warm up. In fact, the Wild smells blood in the water. You're better to think of the Wings as some defenseless tourists frollicking in the ocean and surrounded by chum.
Who plays the role of the Great White? Why, it's none other than Nik Backstrom, who is getting the start in goal for the Wild tonight. Backy the shark has given up exactly one goal in each of his last three starts. That's three more goals than I've seen him give up in pregame warmups thus far. He is about to get overly stingy once these shots count for realsies.
There will be a few guys sitting out tonight, including Guillaume Latendresse
(abdominal) and Nick Schultz (upper body) who are dealing with injuries. Brad Staubitz and Cam Barker are going to be the healthy scratches. I'll give you a brief moment to scratch them off your homemade game program. By the way, if you come to games, you should buy a real game program, because they now unfold into sweet posters of Wild players, and tonight's features Pierre-Marc Bouchard
. It is rad.
Finally, if fashion is your thing, you're know doubt wondering what the chaps are wearing tonight. The Wild is breaking out the green third jerseys for this special occasion. The Red Wings are going with the classic road whites trimmed in red with the flying Goodyear on the chest.
The always entertaining holiday opening video
has been shown, much to the delight of the fans in attendance. The Let's Play Hockey declaration performed by the high school coaches at this year's Hockey Day was spot on. And now, there's nothing left to it but to do in. Game on!Period 1
18:49 - We're just over a minute in and the Wings are already peppering Backstrom. On a delayed penalty, the legendary Nicklas Lidstrom bears down the high slot and rips a slapper that causes problems for the Wild keeper after he gets the waffle glove up. The puck pops up high in the air, but none of the Wings players can get to the loose puck.
17:23 - We've got some early intensity as Tomas Holmstrom settles his big rear end in front of Backstrom and Marek Zidlicky starts hammering at him to get him out of there. Holmstrom goes down on top of Backy and is in no hurry to get up quickly. Zid tries to pull him off by the helmet and they continue to go at it until both are called for roughing. That's hockey, baby! Meanwhile, shots are currently 6-0 in favor of the bad guys.15:22 - MIN 0 - DET 1 - Blast those Wings, they are a crafty bunch. The craftiest of them all is Henrik Zetterberg who has a blocked shot bounce off somebody in front and deflect right to him on right side of Backstrom. He goes behind the goal line but cleverly picks his spot and banks a shot off the upper thigh of the Wild target and in. That's not luck. That's some serious Swedish skill, which I challenge you to save five times fast.11:01 - MIN 0 - DET 2 - I don't know if the Wings are so good that they just practice scoring from behind the net, or what. But right now, they don't care where they are on the ice, they are shooting to score. Valterri Filpulla drops a pass down along the goal line to Danny Cleary. In one motion, he just fires the puck along the goal line and somehow squeezes it between Backstrom and the post. That's two Detroit goals, neither of which has come from a player standing in front of the goal line.
5:47 - When the shots from from above the goal line, Backstrom has yet to be beat. Cleary gets a wicked shot off from the left circle that Backstrom snares with a gorgeous glove save. That beauty can only be topped during the ensuing timeout when Army sargeants Scott Scherbing and Dan Schmitt, who flew the Wild flag over their copter missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, are recognized on the Fox Sports stage. That draws a rousing standing ovation from the crowd, and a stick tap salute from the players.
4:53 - The Wild power play just misses twice, with the first chance coming on a Bouchard shot that rings off the post. That's followed up by Marty Havlat winning a battle behind the Detroit net and finding Cal Clutterbuck
on the doorstep. Clutter doesn't get everything on the shot from two feet outside the crease, and former Maine Black Bear Jimmy Howard makes the big stop.
0:00 - That's it for period numero uno, which is one we'd all like to forget for the most part. The Wild showed signs of life near the end, so lets expect that to carry over into numero dos.Period 2
15:37 - There's been a lot of neutral zone play so far in the second period, and that's where Mikko Koivu
smokes former Michigan State Spartan Drew Miller with a big hit along the penalty boxes. 14:30 - MIN 0 - DET 3 - The Red Wings aren't in the business of letting opponents up for air. They pile on to their lead as Niklas Kronwall gets the puck at the point and just floats a wrist shot toward the goal. Kris Draper, who I believe is in his 44th year in the NHL, makes the perfect tip as it sails by and that fools Backstrom who can't react in time to keep the puck from going over his shouler. That's Draper's first of the year and it couldn't come at a worse time.
12:55 - With the puck in the Wild end, Eric Nystrom is in no hurry to get back as he skates backwards and jaws with Brad Stuart. Not sure if Nystrom is looking for a fight, but he is yapping quite animatedly, if that's a word. Nothing comes of it, but shortly after, the puck ends up in the Detroit corner and Nystrom wastes no time in laying the boom on Stuart.
6:57 - If you're wondering why the Wild hasn't scored, a lack of shots could be a huge indicator. The Wild currently has just six shots registered and we're more than half way through this game.6:16 - MIN 0 - DET 4 - Meanwhile, the Wings have 18 shots on goal, and many of them are coming from the danger zone. It doesn't get any more dangerous than from inside the crease, and that's where Holmstrom finds a rebound, fights off a check and stuffs one past a laid out Backstrom. The good part about all this is that it's going to make for one of the most memorable comebacks in Wild history.
0:00 - The fans aren't overly pleased as the second period comes to an end, but I implore them to keep a positive attitude. They are going to feel pretty silly when the Wild comes back to win one for the ages.Period 3
17:23 - The Red Wings normally don't take many penalties, but the Wild is currently on its fifth power play of the evening. Zidlicky gets the puck over to Havlat in the right circle for a one-timer, but Howard is anticipating the whole way and sponges up that shot in his chest protector.
12:05 - The boys are starting to pump some shots on Howard now, but his lack of action in the first two periods hasn't hampered him in the third. He comes up with a huge leg pillow save as Andrew Brunette gets the puck behind the net and threads a pass to Chuck Kobasew racing toward the goal.
8:27 - The Wings very nearly tack on a fifth as Johan Franzen picks up a loose puck in the slot and snaps a shot past Backstrom's blocker and off the post.3:40 - MIN 1 - DET 4 - It's never too late to start a comeback. Okay, that's not exactly true, but you have to start somewhere. How's abouta power play goal off the stick of Brent Burns? Havlat starts the play by driving to the side of the net, which he has made a habit of doing. He can't get a solid shot off, but he does force the puck into the crease and off a Detroit skate. Burns is playing down low and he raps it in for his 10th of the season.
0:00 - The Wild win streak is stopped at four, but the boys get a chance to start a new one tomorrow against the Blue Jackets, who sit just one point ahead in the standings.