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What's up my nerds in the State of Hockey legion? Welcome to a Sunday evening edition of live in-game commentary right here on Wild.com. With tonight being the first of three straight Sunday evening Wild games at home, I worry that some people's family Sunday traditions might be disrupted. Rather than huddling around the ol' talking box to watch 60 Minutes before a rousing game of charades, families might now spend their Sunday evenings huddled around their computers and high-fiving repeatedly as the Minnesota Wild puts the hurting on the Phoenix Coyotes. I certainly don't mean to disrupt your family traditions, but it has to be done. The Wild has games to win, and I've got comments to write. Y'all just need to do your part and enjoy the thrilling ride that is live in-game commentary.
For one more night, I'll be coming to you live from my perch in the Al Shaver Press Box. Tomorrow, I board a flying machine bound for Joisey, where I plan to meet up with my boy, Paulie Walnuts, the last man standing in the Sopranos family. But tonight, I'm solely focused on the Coyotes and the 12th spot in the Western Conference. It will be ours. Oh yes...it will be ours.
I only wish my focus and intensity matched that of Jose Theodore, who will be getting the start for the Wild tonight. In case you didn't read today's game preview (for shame!) you should know that Theodore scored a goal 10 years ago today becoming the first Canadien goaltender to accomplish the feat. That means Jacques Plante, Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy all look at Theo with scalding envy in their hearts. Well old-timers, you're going to feel especially irked tonight when Theodore duplicates the feat. That's right, I've got Theo penciled in for an empty netter tonight.
The Wild has everybody on the active roster taking warmups right now, but two of those guys are going to have to sit out once the puck drops. Cal Clutterbuck
is set to return from a lower body injury, while Marco Scandella
is out with an illness. Brad Staubitz will be the healthy scratch. Marek Zidlicky (shoulder) and Guillaume Latendresse
(abdominal) are out with injuries.
As for the attire, the Wild are closing out this homestand by wearing the special green third jerseys. The Coyotes have the road whites trimmed in burgundy with the howling dog on the chest.
KSTP Sports anchor Chris Long gets us going with tonight's "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. Like all the greats, Long got his start in Duluth and look at him now. Look
at him now
! He's burning up the airwaves in the big city. Let's do this.Period 1
17:17 - Former Dartmouth Big Green Lee Stempniak makes a steal right in the slot and fires a shot on goal. Theodore makes that stop, and when Stempniak gets his own rebound and lets off a backhand from close range, Theo snares with the lobster mitt and gives a little Statue of Liberty pose just to add some drama.
15:46 - The Wild's top line gets a great opportunity as Antti Miettinen wins a battle along the sideboards in the Phoenix end. He finds Mikko Koivu
in the slot, and rather than letting go with a one-timer, Mikko alertly dishes to a wide open Andrew Brunette who is in alone on Jason LaBarbera. He tries a couple moves but LaBarbs doesn't flinch and stonewalls him in the crease.
13:45 - Theo is looking rather spry today as he kicks out a low shot from the left side, and then lunges over to his left to make an athletic save on Ray Whitney's one-timer off the rebound.
12:30 - Theo again isn't making things look easy, but he is making it entertaining. When Keith Yandle is sprung on a breakaway, Theodore makes an unorthodox headfirst, deck pad glove stop for what is already his eighth save of the night.
10:55 - The crowd thoroughly enjoys Brent Burns stepping up and pasting Martin Hanzal against the boards and dumping him hard onto the ice.6:36 - MIN 0 - PHX 1 - The Coyotes draw first blood as Radim Vrbata takes a bad angle shot to Theodore's right. The puck hits Whitney in front and drops right at his feet, making it easy for him to spin around and bang the puck past Theodore. The Coyotes are getting too many chances from in tight, and have already put 12 shots on goal in this one. Time to pick it up a notch or two.
0:04.4 - MIN 1 - PHX 1 - They don't come much prettier. Once again, the Mitts-to-Mikko-to-Bruno connection works its magic, but this time, LaBarbera doesn't have a chance. As Miettinen carries into the Phoenix zone, he crisscrosses with Koivu and drops a pass to him. All the while, Brunette heads right to the cage where Koivu finds him wide open for an easy-peasey-Japanesy goal. That is big boost heading into the intermission...
0:00 - ...Which starts now. The two clubs are tangled at one. They'll retire to their locker rooms for some strategery and refreshments.Period 2
16:10 - Stempniak gets loose in the high slot and lets another hard wrist shot go that Theodore stops, but then results in a mad scramble as he searches for the puck while former Wisconsin Badger Kyle Turris and other Coyotes start whacking away. Lying face down on the ice with his mask getting knocked off, Theodore is still able to find the puck and finally get covered up.
15:02 - There's the red hot Shane Doan getting sprung on a partial break. He kind of loosely whacks at a rolling puck and Theod does a great job of staying with it and making yet another save. The Yotes now have 23 shots on goal, and according to my math, that puts them on pace for about 300.
11:58 - Lauri Korpikoski drills Jared Spurgeon
in front of the Wild bench, sending him headfirst into the boards. That angers Cam Barker, who is nearby and when the Bark Dog is angry, he'll bite ya. He confronts Lauri, gives him a few body shakes and then drops him with a punch. He'll get a rough, while Korpikoski gets called for interference.
11:18 - Koivu has been making some delicious dishes tonight, and he makes another one go Martin Havlat in the right circle. Marty calmly picks his spot and beats LaBarbera with a wicked wrist shot, but rings it hard off the top of the post.10:05 - MIN 2 - PHX 1 - Get your hats ready, because you're going to need them when Brunette records his first hat trick ever with the Wild. On a four-on-three power play, the boys calmly work the puck around the perimeter until Burns fires a one-timer on goal. LaBarbera makes that stop, but there is nobody close to Bruno and he calmly shovels the rebound through the five hole for the Wild's first lead of the game.
7:47 - MIN 3 - PHX 1 - Try as you might, you're not going to stop a Nick Schultz blast when he leans into one. The longest-tenured Wild player shows off that howitzer of his by taking a pass from John Madden and moving toward the middle of the blue line. He winds and fires one that squeezes through the legs of LaBarbera. That's three on the year for Schultz, which is the most he's scored since the 2003-04 season.
0:00 - Now that's a second period we like to see. The Wild can gain two big points if it can play another 20 minutes just like that. Period 3
17:50 - When it comes to playing behind the opponent's net, Bruno is a man among boys. He wins yet another battle and gets the puck to Koivu at the bottom of the right circle. Mikko quickly one-times it off the outside of the post.15:16 - MIN 3 - PHX 2 - The Coyotes aren't going to hand us this one apparently. They cut the gap to one despite some move acrobatic saves by Theodore. But he can't prevent Scottie Upshall from easily banging in a rebound and putting the momentum back on the Coyote side.
15:03 - MIN 3 - PHX 3 - And just like that, we're tied up. It's Yandle who comes up from his defensive position and buries yet another rebound off a scramble in front of Theodore. Theo is playing a very solid game, but rebounds are starting to hurt him. That's okay. He'll make us forget those when he seals a Wild victory with an empty net goal in the waning seconds.
11:26 - Stempniak has had all kinds of chances tonight, but Theo has matched him each time so far. A bouncing puck in the slot gives everybody fits so Stempniak just swings at it and again Theodore is quick to throw out the leg pillow for a big save.8:46 - MIN 4 - PHX 3 - Yooooooge! Burns gets the fans back into this one with a huge go-ahead goal. After Koivu circles behind the Coyote net and finds Burns in the high slot, the big defenseman has his first shot blocked by Turris. He sticks with it and spins around with another attempt, and this one finds its way between LaBarbera's legs and in. Bruno is standing right there, but I think he's plenty happy not taking the hat trick in lieu of a Wild lead. He doesn't get the hatty, but Koivu does get the 200th assist of his career. That's nothing to sneeze at.
5:47 - MIN 4 - PHX 4 - Why won't the Coyotes just go home? After the Coyotes win an offensive zone draw back to Yandle (who has been superb tonight) he one-times a hard pass to Ed Jovanovski cutting down the back door through the slot. Jovo Cop catches the pass and then sticks one inside the post before tripping and sailing over Theodore in jubilation. The Wild is going to have to earn this win.
2:55 - MIN 4 - PHX 5 - Not...good. They Coyotes take the lead back as Whitney maneuvers into the Wild zone. His attempted pass to the front of the net is blocked by Clayton Stoner, but Whitney gets it back and puts a weak shot on goal. Theodore gets a pad stop on it, but again the rebound is there and Whitney follows it up and sneaks it inside the far post. This is going to be a tense three remaining minutes.
1:13 - Theodore heads off for an extra attacker. 0:25.6 - MIN 5 - PHX 5 - OH MY!!!!!! Did you see I used all caps and a bunch of exclamation points? That's what you get when Pierre-Marc Bouchard gets this thing tied up with a rocket slap shot from the point that finds its way through traffic and into the back of the net. Unbelievable! The fans have lost their minds as the stands look like one big night club with House of Pain's "Jump Around" playing. What a ridiculous third period!
0:00 - We are heading to overtime, which means the Wild won't catch the Coyotes in the standings tonight. But, they can gain two huge points with a winner right here. Off to OT! Overtime
4:14 - MIN 6 - PHX 5 - And it's over! What a game! Bouchard somehow comes up with the puck out of the corner and feeds one back to the point where Barker is lurking. He steps into a slap shot and puts it right where LaBarbera has a huge sieve - the five hole. The puck just gets through his pads and crawls over the goal line and that, my friends, is as wild a game as you are going to see.