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Hello boys and girls, and a Happy Bad Joke Day to all of you! I wish, in the spirit of today's holiday, that I could provide you with a bad joke. But if you're an avid reader of live in-game commentary, you know there's no such thing as a bad joke. Everything is solid gold comedy. For example, what do termites eat for breakfast?
Oakmeal! Wait, wait wait. I've got another one. What do you call a bear with no teeth?
A gummy bear! No wait, where are you going? I've got lots more...Why don't ducks laugh?
Because they'll quack up! I know, right? I could go on all day. But I've got bigger things on my mind, like how the Minnesota Wild are about to dismantle the struggling San Jose Sharks. Wait, that reminds me. Why did the San Jose Shark cross the bay? To get to the other tide!
Nailed it! Anyway, Niklas Backstrom
is back between the pipes tonight after dealing with a nagging case of the lower body bug. The timing could not be worse for the Sharks, because as we all know lower body injuries put Backy in a sour mood, which makes him all the more willing to deflect pucks away.
And I've got more good news. Owen Nolan is in the lineup tonight despite illness. That means the Wild will have the same forwards and defense that played in Sunday's win. Shane Hnidy (leg), Clayton Stoner
(hernia) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion) are out due to injuries. Derek Boogaard, Justin Falk
and Nate Prosser
are the healthy scratches.
As for the threads, the Wild will be dressed to the nines in the home reds. The Sharks are going with the road whites trimmed in teal, black and rust with the stick-chomping sand shark on the chest.
Osmo Vanska, the director of the Minnesota Orchestra, gets us going with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. I have never in my life disobeyed someone named Osmo, and I'm not about to start now. Let's get it on!Period 1
16:46 - Cal Clutterbuck
never shies from contact, but this hit is unintended. He collides with Big Joe Thornton just inside the Wild blue line, and Clutter is on the losing end of this one. He gets up slowly but stays on the ice for the remainder of his shift. Still no shots in this game by the way.
16:21 - Evgeni Nabokov, the all-time favorite Russian goalie in the country of Canada, nearly gift wraps a goal for Mikko Koivu
. Playing the puck behind his own net, Nabby puts a pass right on the stick of Koivu in the right circle. The Wild captain wheels and fires on goal, but the Sharks keeper just gets back in time to make the save. Koivu laughs at the missed opportunity.14:48 - MIN 0 - SJ 1 - I wouldn't have minded seeing Joe Pavelski do this three weeks ago to Team Canada, but I'm less enthused today. The former Wisconsin Badger takes a pass from Patrick Marleau and rips a perfect shot past the glove of Backstrom and under the crossbar. Yikes! That's San Jose's first shot on target in this game as well. If they don't put another one on net for the rest of the game, Backstrom's save percentage is really going to suffer.
13:19 - I can't believe we're not tied up right now. A shallow angle Clutterbuck shot results in a wide open rebound opportunity for Kyle Brodziak
. He puts his backhand right at the big gaping hole in the cage, but Nabokov somehow lunges back and gets his blocker on it.
11:31 - Big John Scott lays a big time hit on former Michigan Wolverine Jed Ortmeyer
. Unfortunately, it's from behind and Ortmeyer's face leaves an imprint on the plexiglass. Scott is going to get two for boarding, but not before he mixes it up with a couple other Sharks.
10:55 - Backstrom comes up big on the Sharks ensuing power play. Pavelski gets the puck at the point and puts a perfect pass to the side of the net for Thornton. The big dude appears to have a lay up, but Backstrom gets the left leg pillow over to make a huge stop.
2:53 - Koivu leads an odd-man rush and drops a pass back to a hard charging Greg Zanon. Zanon tries to make a move, but has the puck poked off his stick by Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
2:34 - On the very same shift, Zanon loses his stick away from the play in the neutral zone. As he tries to pick it up, Manny Malhotra goes out of his way to drop the red-bearded one with an obvious hook. Fortunately, the refs see it, but unfortunately, Zanon is hobbled...again.
1:08 - Thornton is making his presence felt tonight. He gets loose on a lone, shorthanded breakaway, but Backstrom comes out and stacks the pads to make a huge stop as Big Joe tries to go upstairs.
0:00 - That's going to do it with a less than thrilling first period. I've got a feeling we're in for more excitement in the second and third.Period 2
19:26 - Koivu gets called for hooking, but he's not heading to the penalty box. He's heading to the locker room. We'll have to wait to find out the reason.
15:59 - Pavelski finds Patrick Marleau standing all alone in the right faceoff circle. Marleau rifles a shot right on, but Backstrom slides over and knocks it down perfectly with the lobster glove.
15:15 - Things are getting fiesty in front of the Wild net as Cam Barker is fiercely battling for position with former Bowling Green Falcon, Rob Blake. Blake essentially picks up the Bark Dog by the leg and dumps him on the ice. Barker responds by putting him in a Figure Four Leg Lock. The zebras allow play to continue.11:25 - MIN 0 - SJ 2 - With four players on each side of the ice, there is plenty of room for former Wisconsin Badger Dany Heatley to work his magic. He gets behind Brent Burns on the near boards and then has a clear path in on Backstrom. After a couple quick dangles, he tucks a backhand in off the far post.
9:00 - Andrew Ebbett takes a big hit from behind by former Vermont Catamount, Torrey Mitchell. Mitchell will get the gate, and that reminds me to tell you that you can still purchase tickets to this weekend's NCAA regional at Xcel Energy Center. The Catamounts will be taking on the Badgers in the first round.
8:15 - Koivu is back out there, and he's making all kinds of noise. As Marek Zidlicky carries behind the San Jose net on the power play, the puck pops to Koivu. He quickly scampers to the front and lifts a quick wrister, putting it off the post.7:16 - MIN 1 - SJ 2 - Start pumping your fist like you're at the Jersey Shore, Gui! Guillaume Latendresse gets the Wild on the board with a power play marker. As Andrew Ebbett gets denied in front, the puck bounces over to G-Lat who has Nabokov on the ground. He fires one off the pad of Nabby and into the net. He punctuates his 27th of the year with a couple vicious fist pumps.
4:04 - A very nice and very loud ovation for the 34th Infantry Division Red Bulls, who are being welcomed home from a yearlong tour of duty in Iraq. The players from both team also get involved by tapping their sticks on the ice and against the boards. That never gets old.Period 3
19:43 - MIN 1 - SJ 3 - Not the start to the third we were looking for. The Sharks strike quickly as Mitchell converts from between the circles to provide the two-goal cushion.
13:48 - Burns is just the guy to slow Pavelski down. He staples the U.S. Olympian against the near boards, getting a rise out of the antsy crowd.
12:56 - Backstrom comes up with a huge save to keep things tight. Sharks rookie Logan Couture gets in alone and tries to tuck a backhand past the Wild netminder, who has to get down in the splits to take a goal away. Some would say being able to do the splits is not manly, but in this case, Backstrom is oozing machismo.
9:45 - Antti Miettinen works a nifty give-and-go with Andrew Brunette on a rush, but Bruno's quick shot slides inches wide of the far post.
5:31 - The Wild needs to make something happen immediately if not sooner. Unfortunately, the Sharks are not cooperating with their stingy defense. Some might even say it's a "trapping" defense, but of course Jacques Lemaire is the only coach who has his team play the trap, so that can't be correct.
3:31 - Heatley is headed off for a crosscheck, giving the Wild power play one last opportunity to gain some mojo.
1:31 - Heatley is out, and the power play ends without much of anything generated.0:41.5 - MIN 1 - SJ 4 - This is going to make a comeback difficult. With Backstrom off for an extra attacker, Joe Thornton gathers the puck and easily skates in to seal the San Jose victory.
0:00 - The final horn sounds, and the Wild succumbs to the angry Sharks, 4-1. The miracle comeback for a playoff spot will have to start on Thursday in Philadelphia.