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What up State of Hockey legion? Welcome to your winter home in the cyber world, live in-game commentary on Wild.com. I don't care what you do in your summer months, but I'm just glad you spend these long winter nights with me as I pound out some comments during Wild games like tonight's brouhaha with the San Jose Sharks. I know sometimes people might read a commentary after a game, like if they need some reading material for a long car ride or a trip to the john. That's all well and good, but I'm in the business of protecting our environment and saving the trees. So if you're reading tonight's commentary as the game is happening, you earn five iron range red stars. Kudos to you.
As per the usual, I'm clacking on the keyboard from my beloved perch in the Al Shaver Press Box, you know, where the media bottom feeders like to hang out and loosen their belt buckles after another free press meal. They're all hear to bear witness to the Wild's upcoming beatdown of the Fish, and then they'll happily write yet another happy-go-lucky column to brighten everybody's day when they get their morning paper and read it over a bowl of Cookie Crisp cereal.
My day is already brightened because I already know the Wild has this one in the bag. You might say I'm confident-bordering-on-cocky for saying that, but I know a start by Niklas Backstrom
can only mean good things. He's already shut out the Sharks once this season, and while I'm not suggesting that he shuts them out tonight, I am guaranteeing that he does. Wager a million doll hairs on it.
As for the rest of the lineup, it's going to exactly resemble that from two nights ago in Columbus. Patrick O'Sullivan and Clayton Stoner
will be the healthy scratches. Guillaume Latendresse
will sit out because of his abdominal injury.
Here come the hotsteppah to talk about fashion. The Wild will be wearing the home reds, which have so far been copied by three teams (St. Louis, Florida and Columbus). The Sharks are sporting the road whites trimmed in teal and black with the stick-biting fish on the chest.
Sargeant John Diess of the military police unit that will be deployed next month, gets us started with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. Yes sir!Period 1
19:13 - Cal Clutterbuck
was leading a two-on-one but just as he was about to shoot, Joe Thornton picks him from behind and starts a rush the other way. The puck is dropped back to former Miami University Redhawk who is open in the slot, and he whistles a hard low shot that Backstrom cuts down and holds onto with Sharks lurking all around.
17:45 - The Wild has yet another two-on-one without getting a shot off, but this one is close. Kyle Brodziak
dishes to the right for Martin Havlat, and he quickly throws it to Brodzy in front, but he can't deflect it in and the puck slides through his legs to the other side of the rink.12:52 - MIN 1 - SJ 0 - That's how it's done y'all. A Wild power play that looked like it might have been the worst power play in team history ends with a big goal. Pierre-Marc Bouchard picks the pocket of former Cornell Big Red Douglas Murray behind the goal. The puck pops over to Havlat who quickly finds Brodziak skating toward the goal. Brodzy doesn't get all of his shot, but enough to pop it over the shoulder of Antero Nittymaki. The Wild is shooting 100% from the field thus far as this is the first shot on goal for the reds.
8:17 - The Sharks are enjoying a lengthy four-on-three advantage, but thus far, Backstrom is keeping them quiet. Patrick Marleau crushes a shot from the point that is tipped in front by Ryan Clowe, but Backy reacts quickly and makes the stop. 8:12 - MIN 1 - SJ 1 - This time, he can't come up with the save. Clowe gets the puck behind the net and gets it to Thornton all alone in front. Big Joe is a passing specialist, but when he's this wide open, he can light the lamp every so often. He punches a quick shot under the right leg pillow of the Wild keeper and we're all squared up.
5:42 - The highlight of my night so far? Seeing Wild Assistant Equipment Manager Rick Bronwell getting recognized on the big screen for his 1,000th professional game. Always the modest one, "Tricky" makes sure to pop his collar and point to the screen as he's recognized. He is a character, and a rock solid guitar player.
2:28 - The Sharks get an odd-man rush with 32-year veteran Scott Nichol charging up the right side. He opts for the quick wrist shot, but Backy again is up the task with a great save.
0:21.8 - Matt Cullen
gets the puck in the San Jose zone and shows a burst of speed to get around Jason Demers, who can do nothing except completely clothesline Matty and take a holding penalty.
0:00 - That'll do it for the first 20. The Wild will take a respite and rehydrate for a bit before taking back the lead in the second stanza.Period 2
18:39 - Mark my words, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
is going to score a goal tonight. He's already had a couple great chances, including here as he fires one from a shallow angle and nearly banks it in off Nittymaki. Forget what I said about Backstrom's shutout. This
is the new guarantee.17:03 - MIN 1 - SJ 2 - The Sharks take their first lead of the game as Backstrom makes a point blank save with the leg pad on Clowe. The rebound pops up where Devin Setoguchi is battling in front and the puck bounces off his arm and into the net. They go upstairs to see if it's played with a high stick or a hand shot, but the call on the ice will stand as Eric Furlatt says it was not intentionally batted in.
8:18 - Marco Scandella
has not shown any shyness when it comes to letting that big shot of his go. Even after he recently had one blocked that led to a rush the other way, he comes right back and joins a rush led by Havlat. Marty drops it back for him and Marco unleashes a shot that forces Nittymaki to give up a huge rebound. Nobody's home. 7:33 - MIN 2 - SJ 2 - Let this one be a lesson to you kids. Don't ever give up on your dreams! Koivu will not let his countryman prevent him from achieving his as he gets the puck at the side of the net. He tries one shot...no dice. He tries again...denied. He keeps hacking away, and finally, that puck is in the net, dontcha know? That's number nine for number nine as he tries to keep up with Brent Burns and Clutter in the goal category.
4:59 - MIN 2 - SJ 3 - Poor Backy. Just seconds after making one of the best pad saves you'll ever see on Boyle, he gets victimized by Marleau. Following the dazzling stop, the puck goes behind the net to former Wisconsin Badger Dany Heatley who finds Marleau in the slot. He fires a wrister that Backstrom gets a piece of with the bottom of his lobster mitt, but not enough. It's in, and once again, the Wild has to rally.
2:49 - This is a sight we do not need to see. Marek Zidlicky is down in obvious pain after attempting to glove a floating puck in front of the San Jose bench. Looking up in the air and in an off balance position, he gets driven headfirst into the boards by Jamie McGinn. Scandella skates over to confront McGinn, and Todd Richards is scalding mad that there's no call. Zidlicky is helped off the ice and he'll make his way to the locker room. Period 3
19:07 - Backstrom continues to come up with some huge saves to keep his team close. Former Western Michigan Bronco Jamal Mayers has a shorthanded wraparound attempt, but Backstrom athletically slides across his crease and kicks it out.14:46 - MIN 3 - SJ 3 - Zippeeahdeedoodah! This is a biggie. Chuck Kobasew, who appears to be getting into a rhythym, comes up with a gargantuan goal to get this thing knotted up. Nick Schultz fires a high shot on goal, but Nittymaki can only knock it straight down with his glove. Kobasew is in the area where a lot of goals are scored - right in front. He bangs the loose puck into a yawning cage. This has become a fantastic game.
11:52 - Mama Cita! Backstrom has been stellar all game, but it never hurts to get help from the iron. Demers crushes a shot toward the goal, and the puck deflects off somebody and ricochets off the far post.10:45 - MIN 4 - SJ 3 - Papa Cita! Aren't you happy just to be living in Burnsie's world? Even with all of the reptiles and stuff? The blazing defenseman puts the Wild back on top with a huge tally. He gets the puck at the point and just sends it on goal with a low wrister. Brad Staubitz, who is setting a perfect screen, lets it go between his legs and on goal where Nittymaki never sees it. The disc squeezes underneath him and this place is bumpin', bumpin'.
9:25 - MIN 5 - SJ 3 - Goals come in pairs for Mr. Brodziak. We know this. When he gets one, he generally gets another. A shot from the point by Burns caroms hard off the backboard to the left side of the net. Despite a shallow angle and a sliding Demers coming at him, Brodzy just flicks a backhand up high that just barely catches the netting inside the post, and the Wild has that all important two-goal cushion. What a night this is turning out to be!
3:55 - There are a lot of First Star candidates for the Wild tonight, but Brodziak has to be the frontrunner. He's doing it at the defensive end to, going down shorthanded to block a slap shot from the point and knocking it down into the San Jose end.
2:48 - And there's a glove save just to give the fans one more thing to cheer about. Backstrom snares a Marleau wrister with the glove hand for yet another pretty save.
1:54 - Nittymaki is out of the net.
0:00 - Those are two big points friends. The Wild moves up in the standings into a three-way tie for 10th in the West, at least temporarily. The Coyotes are up big on Los Angeles, but no worries. We'll get at them next week.