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Holla State of Hockey legion, and a Happy Independence Day to all of the Wild fans in Mongolia who are reading tonight's live in-game commentary presented by Sun Country Airlines. Fun fact: but the Wild are huge in Mongolia. I've seen the data of Wild.com traffic, and you might be surprised that after Minnesota, the highest volume of web traffic comes from Mongolia. I don't know what it is. I think they just really like Nick Schultz. But then again, who wouldn't. The guy makes Mr. Rogers look like Todd Bertuzzi. On behalf of Nick, I want to thank the Mongolians for taking time out of their celebration to join us on the web tonight. You won't be sorry.
It's a historic night tonight, for a number of reasons. For one, the Wild are going to rid themselves of the stench of an eight-game winless streak. They'll be doing so at the expense of the Edmonton Geekwads (also known as the Oilers), who are coming to Xcel Energy Center for the last time as a Northwest Division rival. Next year, they'll move on to smaller and worse things like playing teams in California and Arizona. Best of luck to you next season Oiler fans, but tonight, it's best to look away. What you're about to witness is not suitable for children and may disturb some readers.
The Wild is an angry bunch right now. I'd compare them to Clark Griswold when people were trying to leave his house on Christmas Eve night. The Wild is going to win this thing and we're going to be the hap, hap, happiest fans this side of the Western Conference. We've got Niklas Backstrom
in the crease tonight, and this guy has never lost to the Oilers within these walls. There's no reason for him to start tonight.
Yeah, there are a few injury concerns. Guillaume Latendresse
(concussion), Devin Setoguchi
(lower body), Jared Spurgeon
(lower body), Clayton Stoner
(lower body) and Casey Wellman (upper body) are all out for tonight, and Colton Gillies and Mike Lundin
are healthy scratches. But hey, we've got Matt Kassian
up here tonight in case the Oilers start engaging in tomfoolery.
As for the clothing choices, the Wild will wear the home reds for this one. The Oilers will go with the road whites trimmed in blue and orange with the oil drop on the chest.
Brandon Mileski, the second biggest hockey guru at KFAN behind Dan "The Common Man" Cole, gets us going with the Let's Play Hockey declaration. I see no reason to argue. Let's have at it.Period 118:36 - MIN 0 - EDM 1 - Lookout! Just like that the Youth of Canada strikes with a goal on the first shot of the game. Jordan Eberle has the puck poked away nicely by Marco Scandella as he enters the zone. But Eberle sticks with it and grabs the puck along the sideboards before flinging one to the front of the goal where Taylor Hall bangs it home. There's a quick wakeup call for the Wild that has shown the ability to shake off an early goal this season.
17:21 - Matt Kassian
bumps into Darcy Hordichuk in the right circle, but Hordichuk dives like a soccer player trying to draw a yellow card. It's a good thing too, because a Wild shot from the point is kicked out by Nikolai Khabibulin right to Big Matt. He gets a stick on it and pushes it behind Khabibulin, but through the crease.
13:45 - After Brad Staubitz lays a big (and late) hit on Hordichuk, there are some words exchanged after a whistle. Kassian gets involved and he and Hordichuk are yapping at each other during their entire skate back to their respective benches.
12:30 - Sam Gagner loses the puck in his skates in front of the team benches, and that's not good news for him. Darroll Powe
unloads on him with an explosive hit that sends him flying backward.
10:38 - Most saves by goaltenders are made when they are facing the shot, but after Backstrom makes one routine save, he gets spun around by an Oiler. Former Michigan State Spartan Shawn Horcoff puts the puck back toward an empty net but Backstrom lunges toward his own goal and keeps the puck out with his paddle. After he covers up, there is a fracas along the sideboards. Dany Heatley
and Ladislav Smid are the most involved, but it's going to be Smid and Cal Clutterbuck
going to the box.
8:15 - Kyle Brodziak
's line gets to work in creating all kinds of havoc. Their hard work results in a scoring chance for Nick Johnson
, who gets the puck in front. He spins around and gets a shot off while falling, but Khabibulin is able to make that save look pretty simple.
6:57 - Let it be known that our guys aren't afraid to rough up your skill guys. After a Johnson shot is gloved by Khabibulin, several players come together in the slot. Nate Prosser
and Hall are going at it pretty good, and when they both get to the penalty boxes, they're still going at it verbally. Both are standing and screaming at each other. I'm liking the intensity right now. 6:13 - MIN 1 - EDM 1 - Now it is on. Marek Zidlicky gains the Edmonton zone and then drops a pass back for Koivu to pick up on the right side. The captain just weaves his way through the defense into the high slot where he zips a wrister the far side that catches the far post and goes in. It's as pretty as it gets, and you can see how big a goal it is just by Koivu's reaction. He pulls out the one-leg-in-the-air celly before getting mobbed by his mates.
4:00 - I'm shocked that I'm not typing about a 2-1 Wild lead right now. Heatley intercepts a Khabibulin clearing attempt and fires a shot that misses wide. He hustles after the carom off the back wall and then spins around with a shallow angle shot. The puck hits a scrambling Khabibulin and then dances slowly across the goal line. Koivu gets there with his stick an instant too late and pokes it wide.
1:59 - This is just a thing of beauty. As Staubitz carries the puck along the sideboards, Theo Peckham tries to blast him with a hit by clearly leaving his feet to hit him up high. Not only does it not work, but Staubitz actually unloads on him and sends him crashing over the boards into his own bench. Staubitz then leans over the boards to let Peckham know what just happened. I'm calling it right now: that play will be voted the top play of the week on Wild.com.
0:00 - There was no shortage of action in that period. I suggest you go somewhere to lie down just to calm your nerves. You're going to need a lot of energy for the next 40 minutes.Period 2
16:24 - Whoops. Koivu catches Horcoff with a highstick in the face, and that's going to be a double minor. Koivu knows it. He goes right to the box without complaint.
15:04 - On the ensuing power play, a bouncing puck pops right to Eberle at the side of the net, but Backstrom throws the right leg pillow out for a huge stop. Eberle hacks away while Justin Falk
knocks Hall to the ice. Hall doesn't like it, but it appears that the Wild is done laying off skill players. If there's are going to get knocked around, so are yours.
13:18 - This is one of the most fun games I've seen this year, and a lot of it has to do with the Wild's physical play. Clutterbuck takes advantage of Ryan Smyth looking in his skates for the puck and just bowls him over. Even better is that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is getting a penalty out fo this for unsportsmanlike conduct.9:58 - MIN 2 - EDM 1 - Congratulations Jarod Palmer! The Fridley native becomes the seventh Minnesotan to score a goal for the Wild, and it's a biggie. Brodziak wins a battle along the boards in the neutral zone and gets the puck to Palmer streaking up the right side. He has a two-on-one with Cal Clutterbuck on the left, but this is all Palms. He picks his spot up high and roofs one over the glove of Khabibulin.
9:39 - MIN 3 - EDM 1 - PAN-DAH-MONIUM. And yes, ALL CAPS are completely necessary. Just 19 seconds later, it's the Wild's Oiler-killer doing his thing. Almost identical to Palmer's goal, Butch skates up the right side on a two-on-one. He's taking the shot, and it's pure as it sneaks past Khabibulin's glove side once again. The fans have lost their collective minds. It's a beautiful sight.
8:43 - Good night Hordichuk. If he's looking to spark his team, Hordichuk has a funny way of doing it. He and Kassian drop the gloves and dance around at center ice. When the fists finally start flying, they all belong to Kassian. He completely destroys Hordichuk in this one and the fans are now delirious. This game keeps getting better.
7:26 - This does not look good. Going for the puck in between the benches, Palmer loses an edge and is simultaneously hit by former Wisconsin Badger, Tom Gilbert
. In a scene we've seen far to much lately, Palmer appears to go facefirst into the boards. He gets up, but he looks shaken and he walks toward the locker room. I don't think there was any malicious intent on Gilbert's part, but I'll have to see the replay.
6:17 - Bodies continue to fly around. Palmer's former Miami Redhawk teammate Ryan Jones cuts hard to the net and takes a big hit from Nick Schultz right at the side of the net. Jones goes airborne over Backstrom as both players are sprawled on the ice. The ref sees everything and he's not calling anything. I'd agree with him.5:20 - MIN 3 - EDM 2 - Bah. These Oilers aren't going into the fetal position after the two goal outburst and the Hordichuk destruction. They come back with a nifty play as Hall gets the puck on the far boards and sends a pass all the way across to a pinching Smid who knocks it past Backstrom, who has no chance.
4:34 - MIN 4 - EDM 2 - The Wild takes that punch and counters right back. Zidlicky speeds into the zone and cruises around the Oiler cage before throwing a pass to the crease. The puck gets hung up in the skate of an Edmonton defender, but Heatley takes a swipe and gets just enough of it to send it trickling over the goal line. What is it about Heatley and his goals being so timely?
0:00 - The horn sounds and as the Wild players head toward the locker room, they get a rousing ovation from this appreciative sellout crowd. Period 3
20:00 - Devan Dubnyk is now in goal for the Oilers.
19:57 - Here's the deal, Darcy. Matt Kassian
owns you. Right off the draw to start the third, Hordichuk wants to go again. This one goes about as well as the first one went for him. Kassian makes quick work of him and plants him on his kiester once again. Even Kassian is smiling after working that guy over for a second time tonight.
16:41 - With all of this action, it's easy to overlook another brilliant performance by Backstrom. He has been everywhere, and he is all over this blast from another former Spartain, Jeff Petry.
16:23 - Brodziak lays a big hit on Peckham in the Edmonton zone and then steals the puck. He feeds Johnson, who cuts in alone and makes a move before getting stopped by the pad of Dubnyk.
15:11 - Well this game has been filled with things you don't often see. For example, Clutterbuck gets crosschecked to the ice by Colten Teubert. Teubert gets called, but so does Clutterbuck for...diving? How do you dive when you are crosschecked.
14:35 - Jones parks himself right in front of Backstrom, who is having none of it. He takes his lobster mitt and pulls Jones down by the face. Both are going to get called for penalties. Even Backy is sending a message tonight.13:20 - MIN 4 - EDM 3 - Here we go. This one is going to be interesting. Smyth enters the Wild zone and then drops a nice pass back for Horcoff. He takes a couple strides and then beats Backstrom with a wicked snapshot. Back and forth we go in this fantastic tilt.
10:57 - Good gracious! Greg Zanon ties to make a pass from behind his own net to Zidlicky along the sideboards, but he actually rifles it at Zid's head. That leads to chaos and the Oilers get a scoring chance out of it, but Horcoff fans on backhand with Backstrom down on the ice.
6:34 - Bouchard races ahead on another two-on-one, this time with Powe on his left. Rather than firing a shot, Butch feathers a perfect saucer pass over to Powe, but Dubnyk reads it and slides to his right to make a huge pad stop.
4:50 - Jacques Lemaire might have a heart attack if he was coaching in this game right now. The two teams are flying up and down the rink with scoring chance after scoring chance. Koivu finds Heatley bearing in on the net, but his one-timer from six feet out is sponged up by Dubnyk. Put the Bulin Wall back in!
1:35 - Koivu picks the pocket of Horcoff just outside the Edmonton zone and he moves in. With one quick deke to the slot, he lets loose with a backhand that Dubnyk snuffs out.
1:23 - Falk unloads on Hall as he enters the Wild zone with the puck
. Falk lays a hip into him and somehow gets called for interference. A terrible, terrible call.
0:00 - The penalty killers and Backstrom do the job in a furious finish and the skid is finally snapped. There's some roughhousing going on with Backstrom trading jabs with Smyth! This night has been awesome!