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Ahoy-hoy State of Hockey legion! And let me be the first (or maybe the 100th) person to bid you a Happy Global Handwashing Day! Now, Handwashing Day has only been an official holiday for three years now, but just think of what it's done for the world since its inception. Prior to October 15, 2008, it seemed like I couldn't walk into a lavatory without seeing some goofy sap waltzing out of a stall and going straight for the door. Every co-worker I knew would clack away on their dirty keyboards and then grab a big sandwich with both hands before chomping off a monstrous bite. Even I admit to licking my thumb every time I skimmed through my stacks of hundred dollar bills every night before bed.
No more my friends. Now that people know to wash their hands, we're cutting down on diseases and we're just happier in general. So give your loved ones some hand sanitizer or some new hand towels and then enjoy your Handwashing Day feast. You're going to need a belly full for tonight's big-time matchup against the Detroit Dirty Hands, also referred to as the Red Wings. I'll be surveying the action from my perch in the Al Shaver Press Box, and this time, it's on me to provide the entertainment.
On Thursday, I was kicking back and relaxing while our Twitter followers were bringing the funny on this space. Tonight, they're the ones living the good life down in an Xcel Energy Center suite.
They're here on a good night, too. They'll be part of a crowd that will get a look at Josh Harding
making his first start in the regular season since March 26 of 2010. That night, he was in the goal for a loss to the Red Wings. On this night, revenge will be his, and it will taste sweet, especially when Wild.com runs the headline: "Josh Makes Life Hard On Wings." That, my friends, is sheer genius.
As for your healthy and unhealthy scratches, you can cross Mike Lundin
's name off your roster as he's still dealing with back issues. Nick Johnson
, Matt Kassian
and Justin Falk
are going to be your healthy scratches tonight.
As for the threads, the Wild will be the Red Menace tonight in their home reds. The Wings will sport the classic road whites trimmed in red with the flying Goodyear on the chest.
Evan Krogen, one of "Cully's Kids," our Charity of the Month, and his family get us going with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. Cully is one of the hottest scorers in the League so that couldn't be more fitting. Let's get it on, y'all.Period 1
18:07 - There's a reason Jared Spurgeon
is on this team despite the fact that he gets carded at Valleyfair roller coasters. Danny Cleary has a break up the left side, but Spurge catches up enough to get his stick in front of Cleary and prevents him from getting a shot off as he cuts to the net.
15:54 - Guillaume Latendresse
steps right in front of a Brad Stuart slapper and he takes it right above the skate. He goes down in pain, but he's right by the Wild bench, so Cal Clutterbuck
is able to jump out there and Gui can hobble to the locker room.
11:41 - Devin Setoguchi
leads a two-on-one with Dany Heatley
burning up the right side. Here's the problem with this scenario: Nicklas Lidstrom is the defender of it, and he perfectly places his stick to get a piece of Seto's shot, and makes it relatively easy for Howard to cover up.
9:33 - Jakub Kindl nearly puts one in his own net as he tries to sweep away a pass from Matt Cullen
in front of the crease, but Howard makes the big stop on his own teammate. More good news is Latendresse is back out there on this shift.
6:50 - Wings on a 5-on-3 for the next 10 seconds, and Jiri Hudler nearly converts with a huge one-timer that he cranks off the post on Harding's blocker side.
4:51 - Nick Schultz comes bounding out of the box and the crowd is very appreciative of the Wild's penalty killing efforts. Time to turn up the Oh-fense.
2:58 - Valtteri Filppula, after making a couple of dekes around the blue line, lets a backhander fly, but Harding swallows it up like a hungry kid eating a cupcake. 0:11 - MIN 1 - DET 0 - It matters not if you haven't given up a goal in the last two games. When Greg Zanon is feeling it, and you're wearing a Red Wings jersey, you're in trouble. Latendresse flutters a backhand pass that crawls through the slot and sets up nicely for Zanon to step into one that beats former Maine Black Bear, Jimmy Howard. Zanon now has 10 career goals, and four of them have come against the Motor City Biddies.
0:00 - And that does it for the first period of play. Harding looked solid in his first period back in what seems like forever stopping all 10 shots on goal and the Wild take a 1-0 lead into the locker room.Period 219:44 - MIN 2 - DET 0 - That's the stuff right there! Cal Clutterbuck buries his first of the season as the Wild's grinders do the dirty work behind Howard. Colton Gillies hustles to the puck to negate an icing, and then he and Brodziak bang down low until Gillies works it free. He centers one out front and Clutter smokes it past the Wings keeper. Not a bad end to period one, and a pretty sweet start to number two.
15:39 - Gui doesn't seem to be bothered by his hip, his foot or anything in between. He leads a two-on-one with Cullen on his left. He wants to go upstairs with a quick wrister, but Howard comes up with a huge stop, getting a piece of it with the heel of his glove and then covering up the scraps.
12:42 - If anyone has a reputation for laying hits other than Clutterbuck, it's Niklas Kronwall. He sizes up Brad Staubitz in front of the penalty boxes and delivers a blow. Staubitz is a big boy, however, and he doesn't go down. He delivers a shot back at Kronwall as the two skate back to play.
11:45 - Cullen is jiving so well right now, he can make a play without even touching the biscuit. He has the puck come right to him as he bears down the slot. Instead of an off-balance shot, he lets it slide to Pierre-Marc Bouchard
right next to him. Butch has a clear lane, but Howard snuffs out his attempt from in tight.
10:12 - Judging by how smart I think Todd Bertuzzi is and how funny I know Clutterbuck is, I'm guessing it's Clutter who's getting the better barbs in there as those two jaw at each other after a whistle. The fans are all too happy to see someone mix it up with Bert, still a fan favorite here after all these years.
6:56 - The Wings are starting to buzz around Harding, and they're also getting a little too close for comfort. After Harding covers up, Marco Scandella
and former Boston College Eagle Patrick Eaves start tussling. The good news is that it's only Eaves who is going to the box for a highsticking infraction.
4:38 - Scandella puts a shoulder into Cleary as he goes down low into the Wild zone at high speed. Marco puts him right on his rump and he goes sliding back first into the boards with quite a bit of momentum. My back is hurting just seeing that.
2:01 - Wild bodies are falling all over the ice right now and that leaves Pavel Datsyuk with a clear breakaway in on Harding. This guy is a master of moves, but he tries to put a shot on and misses badly. Ryan Stanzel says he hasn't seen a guy miss that badly since Kyle Wanvig was playing for the Houston Aeros, and apparently, "he did that a lot."0:47.7 - MIN 2 - DET 1 - Not the way we'd like to see the second period end. The puck gets kicked around in front of Harding like it's a five-year-old soccer game before it finally pops out to Ian White. He cuts across the slot and then flicks a wrist shot to the far side to finally beat Harding on Detroit's 22nd shot. Ladies and gentlemen, Detroit's leading goal scorer is now Ian White.
0:00 - The Wild is getting thumped in the shot category, but they lead where it counts on the scoreboard. Period 3
17:12 - Howard gets tangled up with his own players and he's way out of position as the puck slides out to Clayton Stoner
at the point. He winds and fires, but misses wide and the lead stays at one.16:14 - MIN 2 - DET 2 - The lead is now kaput. The Wings are the Wings for a reason and they don't give up easily. From the point, Kindl just sends a nice, easy low shot toward the front and that's where Jiri Hudler puts a perfect tip on it past Harding. There are way too many cheers in this building after that goal. Where to these Red Wing fans come from, and who let them in?
11:17 - Clutter wants to make something happen. He's tired of the Wings controlling the puck all night, so he steals one in the Wild zone and goes on a coast to coast rush up the left side. He's only got one hand on his stick, but he's still able to muster something on it and Howard has some trouble with it before finally covering up.
10:52 - Did this really not go in? Devin Setoguchi
, who is so dangerous around the net, flicks a quick shot from a bad angle. It catches Howard by surprise and goes right through is legs and hits the post on the other side. I could swear it hits the padding on the far side and bounces out, but apparently not. They're not even going to review it.
6:21 - Hards is officially back, friends. He makes a spectacular stop as he slides to his right and gets an arm on a Henrik Zetterberg bid at a wide open net. Not only does he make the sick stop , but he's able to cover up the rebound as well.
3:47 - The Wings are relentless right now. Lidstrom has the latest chance, cranking one from the point, but Harding flicks the leg pillow out at the last instant to take it away.
1:04 - The Wings are just playing keep away in the Wild zone. The only time they're giving the puck up is for a shot, like this wicked wrister from Datsyuk that Harding just gets enough of with the lobster mitt.
0:00 - For the third straight game, we're heading to OT. Bonus hockey.Overtime
3:12 - Setoguchi burns around the Wings net before spinning with a shot from a low angle. Kyle Brodziak
is battling for position in the crease, but Howard makes the save and then gloves the popped up puck before Brodzy can find it.
2:35 - Nick Schultz has the game on his stick as he fakes a defender down, walks around and then sends a missile just wide of the net.
2:26 - Boos erupt from the crowd as Cullen gets whistled for one of the weakest tripping calls you will ever see in an NHL overtime game. Cullen can't believe it, and this one will be a nail biter til the end.
1:33 - Harding slides over and is all over a Kronwall one-timer.0:48.5 - MIN 2 - DET 3 - No way the game can end this way. A mad scramble in the crease leads to Johan Franzen putting the puck in as his face is colliding with the cross bar, knocking the net loose. The ref emphatically signals that it's a goal, and the Wild players refuse to believe it. The entire Wings bench empties while the Wild players stay put. The review upholds the call, and this one is over.