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Holla back State of Hockey legion!
Don't be alarmed, it is just your friendly live in-game commentator, and I'm shouting (italics means shouting)
for a few reasons tonight. Reason one: because I'm way up high in the Al Shaver Press Box at Xcel Energy Center, and everybody up here yells, especially radio and TV broadcasters. I'm just trying to fit in. Reason two: I'm excited because the Los Angeles Kings are here, and they have what a I like to call a "good team." It's going to be a barnburner tonight, and you're going to wish every night was Monday.
Finally, I'm excited because it's Nancy Cartwright's 53rd birthday today. Of course, you know Nancy as the voice of Bart Simpson on The Simpsons
, and if not for her we wouldn't have heard quotes like, "All he does is sit there like an unemployed whale," "What's Santa's Little Helper doing to that dog? Looks like he's trying to jump over, but he can't quite make it." and "Don't have a cow, man."
Well I am having a cow, and I feel I can go a little overboard in my celebrating because Niklas Backstrom
can stay calm enough for the both of us. He's back in the saddle tonight after getting a well-deserved night off on Friday. If I do say so, he looks completely refreshed tonight. He looks good to go, and if he needs some help, he's got 5,000 of his Bobblehead likenesses to back him up if needed. You try shooting a puck into a net filled with 5,000 little statues. Not gonna happen, monsieur.
Cam Barker is not good to go tonight. He's going to miss a second consecutive game with a groin injury. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
is also a no-go, but he's getting closer to returning. Colton Gillies will be the only healthy scratch tonight.
The Wild will break out the green third jerseys for tonight's nationally televised game on Versus. The Kings will go with the road whites trimmed in black, silver and purple with King Edward the Longshanks crown on the chest.
Members of the Hennepin, Washington, Ramsey and Dakota County Sheriffs department get us going with the Let's Play Hockey declaration. As long as their not volunteer sherriff's deputies from Scranton, I'll do what they say. Away we go.Period 1
18:54 - Captain Mikko Koivu
hops out there for his first shift and he makes his presence felt immediately. He gains the L.A. zone, makes a nifty little move to shake former Michigan Wolverine Jack Johnson, and then whistles a wrister to the upper corner that former UMass Minuteman Jonathan Quick snares with the lobster mitt.14:08 - MIN 1 - LAK 0 - Get off your feet Minnesota! The Wild grabs the early lead thanks to a great play by Clayton Stoner. He hustles to hold the L.A. zone after the Kings try to clear. He then sends the puck to the front, where Eric Nystrom is camped out and puts a great deflection on goal. Quick does a great job to make the initial stop, but the puck lies in the crease like a juicy hamburger, and John Madden jumps on it. He punches it in for his second of the year.
12:18 - MIN 2 - LAK 0 - That's how it's done, y'all! Nick Schultz follows up Madden's second with his first. He can thank his road roommate Mikko Koivu for doing a lot of the dirty work, holding the puck behind the Kings net while being hounded by former Clarkson Knight, Willie Mitchell. Koivu sends a pass out to the left point, and Schultz steps into a boomer that eludes traffic in front and finds the mesh in the upper corner. Five shots, two goals for the good guys in green.
10:59 - Here's Brad Staubitz doing what he does. He crushes Kyle Clifford the Big Red Dog with a monstrous hit in the Kings zone. Former Princeton Tiger Kevin Westgarth takes exception and goes after Staubitz with repeated hacks, trying to get him to fight. Staubitz isn't biting on this bait. He absorbs the jabs from Westgarth and then Clifford, plenty happy to have just given the Wild a power play chance.
9:04 - Marek Zidlicky is an offensive defenseman, but he comes up with a huge defensive player. Caught as the only man back on a shorthanded rush for the Kings, he's in the middle of a two-on-one led by Michal Handzus. He tries to dish over to a wide open Jarret Stoll, but Zid goes down and takes the saucer pass right in the midsection, and Backstrom is able to hop in the loose puck for a whistle.
6:08 - The Kings have started buzzing on their power play. Johnson fires a long shot from the high slot that hits something in the air and deflects off the post to Backstrom's left.
1:41 - Try as he might, Johnson cannot find a way to get one past Backstrom. After having a shot gloved that forced a faceoff, the puck comes right back to the Shattuck product. He one-times a missile about two feet off the ice, but Backstrom slides to his left and picks it out of the air with a sterling glove save. 1:23 - MIN 2 - LAK 1 - The Kings finally get one past Backy, and gain some valuable momentum as the first period comes to a close. As the Wild penalty gets close to its expiration, Stoll gets the puck at the top of the right circle. He's got some space so he takes one step and then fires a laser wrist shot just under the cross bar to cut the lead in half.
0:00 - The Wild takes the lead into the first intermission, but this powerful Kings squad has come alive. This one is going to be a toughie.Period 2
14:44 - Quite honestly, we've hit a lull in the game at this point. Other than some lengthy shots on goal by the Kings, there's been little generated by either team. The folks in the seats are getting restless right now.
12:14 - Cal Clutterbuck
gets into it a bit with former North Dakota Fighting Sioux Matt Greene. Away from the play, Greene gives him the business, and sends Clutter to the ice. The fans don't like that, but they do like the call just seconds later. An instant after firing a shot on goal, Antti Miettinen absorbs a blast from Dustin Brown, who catches Mitts in the head with an elbow. Brown will get a five minute major and a game misconduct for the hit to the head. A great chance for the Wild to regain momentum.
11:21 - The power play unit nearly strikes early as Miettinen finds an open Koivu in the slot. The captain lets one loose, but Quick nimbly slides over and lays the leg pillow down along the goal line to keep it out.
6:47 - The Wild had some chances, but Andrei Lokitionov scampers from the penalty box, and the Wild power play comes up empty after five man advantage minutes. The hope is that at least the Kings skill players are worn down, which could lead to some more scoring chances for the Greens.
5:44 - Minnesota catches a break on a Kings power play. Anze Kopitar zips a perfect pass over to Loktionov who has a wide open net from about 10 feet. He rushes his shot and puts it off the side of the post.
4:04 - Another break goes the Wild way, as a long shot from the point misses wide and bounces hard off the backboard. Justin Williams is on the other side to catch it, and with Backstrom clueless as to where the puck is, he rings another off the far post despite an empty net.
1:45 - Un-bee-lievable! There's some miscommunication between Backstrom and Greg Zanon as the two are on the puck in the Wild crease. Backstrom goes down to cover, while Zanon tries to shoot the puck out of the zone and as he falls down, he gives it away to Ryan Smyth who is staring at a yawning net. Smyth struggles just a bit to find the handle, and that allows Latendresse to come sliding in out of nowhere. With the shaft of his stick, G-Lat deflects Smyth's shot and prevents the tying goal. You don't see many plays like this, especially from a forward.0:16.2 - MIN 2 - LAK 2 - The Wild hasn't solved its penalty problems and the Kings take advantage. With Nystrom and Koivu in the box, the Kings have an easy time moving the puck around before Kopitar gets the puck on the doorstep and easily buries it. Let's hope these late period goals don't come back to haunt us.Period 3
13:26 - A lot of back and forth in the third period doesn't produce anything until now, when Havlat beats everybody to a loose puck in the Kings zone and feeds a cutting Latendresse, who just misses wide with a shot.
9:25 - Nystrom makes a nifty toe drag move on Greene on a one-on-one in the L.A. zone, but Greene holds his ground and limits Nystrom to a long distance shot from the slot that Quick easily stops.
7:03 - The Wild has come alive in the third period, pinning the Kings in their zone, but something needs to happen or something is going to break loose the other way. Miettinen has some time and space in the right faceoff circle. He pump fakes before unleashing one on goal, but Quick is out to cut down the angle perfectly and sponges up the shot.
5:29 - Loktionov tries to get fancy by trying to sidestep Schultz, who is having none of it. He holds his ground and plants Lokitonov directly onto the ice.
0:00 - We're going to get some bonus hockey. The Wild is assured of a point, but nothing less than two will satisfy our desires. Time to bag one right here in OT.Overtime
5:00 - The happiest person in the building right now is Wild Manager of Web and Creative Services, Dewayne Hankins, who is leaving us to join the Kings next month. Being the waffler that he is, he wanted both teams to get a point tonight. Whatever dude! (He better get used to that because Californians love to say, "dude").
0:39.7 - Wowee. This was almost disastrous. Smyth gets a step down the right side and fires a wicked wrister up high. Backstrom gets his blocker on it and pops it high in the air. The puck lands behind him in the crease, but he's able to pounce on it and hang on to get the whistle.
0:00 - More hockey! We're headed to a shootout, where Minnesota is 0-1 this year.Shootout
The Kings will start it off, and the highly skilled Kopitar will have the first crack at Backstrom. He calmly slides one through the legs of Backy to give the Kings the early lead.Here's Koivu to try to tie it up. He makes a quick move to the backhand and just does get it past the glove of Quick. We're knotted up!
Johnson is up next. While he's skating in, the horn mistakenly blows and he pulls up confused. He's going to get another attempt, but no dice. Backstrom flashes the right pad out there and stuffs him.Here's Cullen, who makes a few headfakes and stutter steps and then snipes one on the blocker side for a huge goal.If Stoll can't score here, it's over...it's not over. He finds some space over Backstrom's glove and ties it.
Now, Zidlicky can win it. He tries to go glove side, but Quick gets a piece and now we're in sudden death.
Williams is up. He tries to go five hole with a wrister, but Backy shuts the door.
Now the crows comes alive as Burns is up. He misses everything with a wrist shot well high of the net. Handzus is next for the Kings. He gets Backstrom down on the ice and then flicks one into the net, putting the pressure on Miettinen.
Mittens makes a move to the forehand, but he's stuffed up against the post by the pad of Quick. A tough one to swallow for the home club.