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Top of the morning to you State of Hockey legion! Welcome to a different kind of Sunday sermon, which is that of live in-game commentary on Wild.com. I am coming to you live from my pulpit in the Al Shaver Press Box, high above the frozen pitch at Xcel Energy Center. Now I know some of you were supposed to go to church today, but you didn't want to miss today's commentary featuring the Detroit Red Wings and your Minnesota Wild. Don't feel guilty. I'm sure if you explain it to your religous leader next week, he or she will totally understand. After all, there is nothing more spiritual than the Wild putting a beatdown on the Wings.
Although it's not a religious holiday, it is Hockey Day Across America, and today's game is going to be televised nationally on NBC (prounounced AAAAAAnnnnnn-bee-cee). But if you don't have one of those talking boxes with the moving pictures, or if you just prefer running comments in text form, then this is your home. Welcome to it.
The nation is going to get a good look at the best goaltender in the universe today as Niklas Backstrom
mans the crease. Backy is cruising along right now, and he's making it look easy these days. Now, I have it on high authority that the Red Wings are a pretty dangerous team, and they've got a good share of dweebs...I mean...fans watching them warmup right now. But those players and fans are going to be shaking their heads in disbelief when they watch Backstrom hang a bagel on their side of the scoreboard.
Onto the bad news of the day, which is that Mikko Koivu
will not play today due to a hand injury. There is still no word as to the extent of the injury, but the captain will not be leading today. However, I have all the confidence in the world that recently recalled Cody Almond
will fill in admirably and tally his first goal of the season tonight. Guillaume Latendresee (abdominal) will also be out of the lineup tonight, and Marco Scandella
was reassigned to Houston earlier today.
As for the unis, the Wild is breaking out their green third jerseys for today's tilt. The Wings are going with the classic road whites trimmed in red with the flying tire on the chest.
Dave Margeneau, the president of Minnesota Hockey, gets us going with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. When the commander in chief issues an order, you follow. Let's do this America.Period 1
18:16 - In front of the Wings bench, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
makes a beautiful no look pass into the middle of the Wings zone for a streaking Matt Cullen
. Looking to duplicate his breakaway effort from Friday, Cullen gives a pump fake but then zips a wrist shot wide of former Maine Black Bear Jimmy Howard and the net.
15:55 - The Wings come up with their first chance as the always dangerous Pavel Datsyuk carries behind the Wild net and then throws a pass back from whence he came. Standing on the doorstep is Danny Cleary, but his point blank chance is denied by Backstrom.
14:13 - Cal Clutterbuck
gets some steam going up the left side and you know he's going to let go with a high wrister. He does, and Howard has some trouble with it, but gets in front of it enough to make the stop.
11:46 - On the Wild's first power play of the day, Bouchard holds behind the net and then darts to the front for a quick shot up high. Howard makes that stop and he's also able to deny Clutterbuck, who is able to get a stick on the rebound as he gets knocked to the ice.
4:23 - Former Wisconsin Badger Brian Rafalski brings a little action to a slow-moving tussle by pinching in on the right side and maneuvering down low. He throws a pass to the front where Jiri Hudler redirects it on goal, but Backstrom is all over it for his best stop of the night.
1:52 - Sorry, but this is Backy's best save of the night. A centering pass right to the top of the crease is chipped up high in the air by Clearly. Somehow, Backstrom is able to slide across and stay big in his net, allowing him to get the waffle mitt in the disc pegged for the top shelf.
0:00 - That will do it for the first third of this game. The Wings hold a 13-6 shot advantage, but this far, the scoring remains barren. Time for a Coke break. Period 2
19:45 - Kyle Brodziak
intercepts a Detroit clearing attempt just inside the Detroit blue line and whistles a shot right on. Howard makes that save with the leg pillow and then stretches his toe out to knock away Antti Miettinen's rebound chance.
17:10 - Brodziak, who will be counted on heavily to continue his stellar season in Koivu's absence, has another great chance. He picks the puck out of a Detroit defender's skate at the blue line and then makes his way in on Howard. With a quick move to the backhand, he puts a quick shot that looks good but hits the outside of the cage.
14:22 - Yikes! After a rush by the Wild gets turned away, Martin Havlat and Hudler collide violently in the neutral zone. Both players are shaken and slow to get up, but both are able to recover and head off under their own power.
11:58 - Cleary is getting all kinds of chances so far and he can't put one past Backstrom to save his life. This time, Hudler makes a sick one-time pass to a wide open Cleary at the side of the net. He gets his stick on it but pushes it wide of the cage.
9:48 - On a Wing power play, Datsyuk weaves his way in to the low slot beautifully and lets a quick shot go that Backstrom stops. There is chaos in the crease as players hammer away violently, but Backy holds his ground to continue his stellar performance.
7:13 - Another Detroit man advantage and another chance for the Wings as Johan Franzen gets the puck in the left circle and has a clear path to the net. Backstrom almost looks out of position, but he's got that thing covered, sticking out the right pad for another top notch save.
5:15 - Marek Zidlicky sure doesn't look to be bothered by his shoulder injury. He is in an absolute battle in front of the Wild net with Tomas Holmstrom. Those two just go at it again and again until finally the Wild is able to clear the zone.
2:34 - The Wild power play gets to work and after a great play by Brent Burns to hold the zone, the puck is worked down low to Havlat. He moves to the net and then dishes to Brodziak in front, but his bid is snuffed out by Howard once again. Cleary and Brodziak are having a scoring chance battle tonight, and thus far, neither has been able to solve the opposing netminder.Period 3
19:17 - Miettinen fires a shot on goal from the left circle that handcuffs Howard. The rebound sits there for a bit as Brodziak muscles his way in there to try and put it home. Howard is slowly sliding out of his crease, but he's able to reach back and get the puck, holding on for a whistle.18:50 - MIN 0 - DET 1 - Nicklas Lidstrom can hang up the skates any day now. The 40-year-old breaks the tie after taking a pass from Hudler in the high slot. With traffic in front, Lidstrom winds up and smokes a slap shot that squeezes through Backstrom and slides over the goal line.
16:53 - The Wild is turning the Detroit zone into a shooting gallery as anybody in a green jersey is just firing away. Burns has a couple attempts from the point, including one low shot that is tipped nicely by Andrew Brunette, but is once again denied by Howard. The Wings keeper has 18 saves to this point, but many have been huge stops.15:10 - MIN 1 - DET 1 - Not this time Jimmy. You've got to love these breakaways, especially since the Wild is converting on these chances. A turnover in the Wild zone ends up on the stick of Burns, at least for an instant. He quickly throws a pass ahead to Havlat, who is behind everybody. In all alone, Marty picks his spot and punches a wrister through Howard for his 500th career point, bringing the crowd and the Wild bench to a frenzy. This could be one of the biggest goals of the season if things pan out here today.
8:51 - Havlat is trying to take this thing over, and I say let him. He commits thievery deep in the Wings zone and then goes hard to the net, trying to stick one in on the far side, but Howard as the pads working tonight. He kicks that one to the side.
6:28 - Cleary shot = Backstrom save. Once again, Cleary has a golden chance on a one-timer from the left circle, and once again, Backy is there to not only get his pad out there, but to expertly control the rebound and hang on.
0:00 - We head to overtime. The Wild gets at least one point in the standings, but look for a second one when Brodziak pumps one home in overtime. Yes Dick and Bert, that is a call. Overtime
3:55 - What a play by Greg Zanon, who snaps his stick on a shot attempt, but then hustles back without any lumber and plays Henrik Zetterberg perfectly, allowing Havlat to swoop in and take the puck from behind.
2:34 - The Wild has easily had the better of the play in overtime against a team with seven OT wins. Miettinen sends a rocket on net, but Howard gets a pad on that.
2:11 - What...the...heck...was...that. Maybe one of the best saves in the career by a guy who is putting highlight reel saves together on a nightly basis. Cleary gets his 84th scoring chance of the game and it's his best. All alone in front, he's got Backy down on his belly. Cleary waits just a beat to lift a backhand over him, but it's not going to happen. Backstrom somehow gets his glove up enough for an unbelievable save.
0:00 - Another huge Backstrom save on Franzen in the closing seconds means we're headed to the shootout. I'm revising my call. Havlat will score the shootout winner.ShootoutDetroit will start things off, going with Datsyuk as the leadoff hitter. The stickhandling wizard does a dipsy do and then tucks one in on the blocker side as he avoids Backy's poke check.
Bouchard will start it off for the Wild, and he has his backhand denied by the lobster mitt of Howard.
Hudler is next and can put the Wild behind the eight ball, but he misses by a mile with a slap shot from the hash marks.
Cullen will attempt to tie this one up...but no. Again, Howard gets the glove up for a big save.That cascade of boos must mean that Todd Bertuzzi, in his 1,000th game, can win it for the Wings...and he does. He slowly weaves his way in and roofs a backhand over Backstrom.