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Yo yo State of Hockey legion! Welcome to this Saturday night edition of live in-game commentary presented by the beautiful people at Sun Country Airlines. Are you as thrilled to be online right now as I am? I mean, you could be getting your ankles bashed by shopping carts controlled by people who don't apologize so long as they get that Rockin' Elmo doll. Or you could be at some party being forced to make small talk to your spouse's co-worker only because you're the same sex and you both like sports. Here, you don't have to do any of that. You can kick back, have a tasty beverage and even wear sweat pants. I'm not going to judge you because that's not my job.
No no. My job is to simply relay some information to you over this connection of wires and data ports so that you may know what is happening as the Minnesota Wild beats the snot out of the New York Thugs, or Islanders as some people refer to them as. I'm going to be honest with you, this one might not be pretty. I fully expect the Wild to have this one wrapped up with five minutes to go in the first, but there are 60 minutes in this one and there might be something that happens late in the game that you'll want to know about.
For example, when Niklas Backstrom
turns in his latest brilliant save for tonight's highlight shows, I want to tell you about it. He's making a few of those kinds of saves right now in pregame warmups, and as you know, he only gets better as the night wears on.
Now there has been some consternation as to some injuries affecting the lineup. Mikko Koivu
(lower body), Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(facial injury), Devin Setoguchi
(lower body), Guillaume Latendresse
(concussion symptoms) and Casey Wellman are all out of this one. But all that means is that Greg Zanon gets back into the lineup among seven defensemen, and Jarod Palmer
makes his NHL debut in his hometown. The Fridley native has got some sick handles, and you'll see those on display when he pots his first NHL goal.
I bet your next thought is, "I could care less about who's playing. I just want to know what these guys are wearing!" It's all good. The Wild are going with the special green third jerseys for the second straight game. The Isles are donning the road whites trimmed in orange and blue with the aerial view of Long Island on the chest.
The always entertaining pre-Christmas opening video is complete (you can watch it via the link in the sidebar). Dick Bremer, the voice of Twins television broadcasts has let us hear the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration in his signature baritone. I say we get down to brass tacks. Away we go.Period 1
18:09 - Palmer's Wild debut is official. On his first NHL shift, he burns up the left side and creates some space before firing a backhand on net that former Michigan Wolverine Al Montoya has to kick out with a tough toe save. While all this is going on, Colton Gillies is injured and he has to hobble to the locker room. That's all this team needs right now.
16:27 - And Gillies is back on the bench. He's a gamer.
15:42 - Right in between the benches, Cal Clutterbuck
delivers a big hit on David Ullstrom. Josh Bailey and Ullstrom both retaliate with some gloves up in the facial area, but the refs allow it and play continues. The Islanders must be looking for revenge for Clutterbuck's face getting in the way of Trevor Gillies' fist last year.
10:52 - Palmer has another nice opportunity. Brad Staubitz leads him perfectly with a pass through the neutral zone. Palmer gets to the left circle and zips a shot far side that just misses the post.
4:25 - The Islanders get some sustained pressure in the Wild zone and the puck pops to former Cornell Big Red Matt Moulson in the slot. He turns and one-times one right on but Backstrom gets the left leg pillow down for a big stop.
1:52 - After a great shift by Palmer's line, the Wild forces the issue in the Islander zone for an extended period. Jared Spurgeon
unloads a slap shot that Montoya absorbs with Darroll Powe
right there looking for a rebound.
0:00 - So nothing's been decided early as I predicted, but that's only because I forgot that the Wild saves its breakout for the second period. That's coming up in just a bit right after some refreshment time.Period 2
16:00 - Neither team has been able to generate too much offense tonight. Most of the shots have come from the perimeter, like this one from former Boston College Eagle Mike Mottau from the point. Backstrom sees it all the way and looks it into the glove like a fundamentally sound baseball player.
13:31 - The Islanders power play gets something going down low and John Tavares has a golden chance right in front with Backstrom down. But the former first overall pick fans on his attempt and pushes it right into Backy's arm.
12:10 - The power play has given some life to the Islanders as they're mucking up the area in front of Backstrom. That leads to a chance from another B.C. Eagle, Marty Reasoner. He punches a point blank shot on net that Backstrom doesn't see, but he's able to get a shoulder on it.8:47 - MIN 0 - NYI 1 - New York's second go on the power play yields a result that isn't good for the home team. Right after Backstrom makes a save while on his stomach, the puck is sent back to the point for Andrew MacDonald. He hesitates with the shot, which allows a screen to develop, and then he just pumps a bullet high on the blocker side of Backstrom. It will go down as even strength, however, due to Warren Peters' penalty expiring just a second prior.
5:07 - That Tavares kid has some skills. He takes the puck from his own blueline and then goes coast to coast, cutting to the net but just losing the handle as he tries to tuck one in on the far side.
3:33 - Palmer now getting some work on the Wild's first power play, and again he's able to get a good shot off from the slot, but is stopped by the waffle mitt of Montoya.
2:40 - Michael Grabner gets the puck with speed up the left side and moves in on Backstrom. He tries to sneak a quick shot through the wickets, but Backy closes the door and absorbs the shot in his padding.
0:00 - Have we ever been concerned about a one goal deficit after two? No, and we're not going to start now. Be back in a bit for the upcoming rally.Period 3
13:43 - After a long period of time spent in the Islander zone, New York is able to clear and generate a chance. Tavares gets the puck along the left boards and puts a perfect pass to the slot for PA Parenteau, but his one-timer is snuffed out beautifully by Backstrom.
13:06 - Former Minnesota Gopher Kyle Okposo dances through two Wild defenders to get in on the cage, but Backstrom throws the stick out there for a perfect poke check and Okposo goes flying head first through the air.11:38 - MIN 1 - NYI 1 - There we go! It was just a matter of time, and for some reason, it has to be Clutterbuck. After a shot from the high slot by Dany Heatley deflects a couple times, it hits Montoya up high and squirts to the left side. That's where Clutterbuck is camped and he corrals it before tucking it in from the shallow angle. It's the Wild's 14th shot on goal, but the score is knotted up.
9:43 - I've seen that Palmer fake slap shot before. He winds up as he enters the zone to get around Mottau before firing his team-leading fifth shot on net. Mottau doesn't like getting burned by the youngster so he plants him on the ice after taking the shot.
4:22 - Heatley's rocket already led to one Wild goal. He tries another as he enters the Islander zone. This one has some hair on it as hit screams toward the far corner, but Montoya gets his lobster mitt up there and snaps it out of the air.
0:00 - Tack on another point for the Wild, and get ready to add another at some point during this overtime.Overtime
3:43 - Clutterbuck finishes off a tremendous shift with a big hit on Parenteau. That was his third hit on the shift.
3:09 - Up and down we go. Right after an Okposo chance, the Spurgeon heads the other way and sends a knuckler on net that Montoya is able to handle.
1:11 - Cullen dances into the Islander zone and pulls off a spin-o-rama to the backhand before another Montoya save. The crowd is sensing something big about to happen.
0:00 - That big thing is going to happen in the shootout. That's where we're headed for the second straight game.Shootout
Cullen is going to start this thing off, and he tries to stick a shot on the stick side, but Montoya lays the pad down in time.
Tavares is up for the Isles, and he tries something resembling Patrick Kane's goal from Thursday, but it's not happening. Backstrom stuffs him.
Marek Zidlicky tries to go high glove, but Montoya knocks that one away.Hans and Frans Nielsen pumps up the Isles by moving to the backhand and then roofing one that pops the water bottle.
Heatley needs to score to keep this one alive, but he can't. Montoya makes that stop and ends this thing. Still the Wild gets a point and stays atop the NHL standings.