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What is up State of Hockey legion? A Happy Peculiar People Day to you all. I sure hope you didn't forget to get me a present for this day that celebrates the quirkiness in all of us. My present to you is this live in-game commentary, and let's face facts. Anybody who writes around 70 of these per year has got a couple screws loose. But it's what I love to do, especially when your Minnesota Wild are getting mad and kicking other teams in the teeth.
Tonight, the Wild players are hopping mad, and they're about to take their frustrations out on the San Jose Blowfish (or Sharks as the people in San Jose call them). Look, I don't have anything against the people of Northern California. They give us good wine, and I'm pretty sure they are pretty good with computer software and coding. But tonight, they are in for a long night. The good guys in red are going to get off the schneid in a big way. And they're going to do it by getting mean. Look away San Joseans, this could get ugly.
One of the reasons I say that is because Josh Harding
is betwixt the pipes for the Wild tonight. I'm watching the guy they call "Hards" in warmups right now, and if I may say so, he's making it (wait for it) "hard" to score. Boom! Expect more genius quips like that as tonight's commentary goes forth.
It's not all sunshine and puppy kisses right now, though. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, Guillaume Latendresse
and Jarod Palmer
are all out with concussion issues. Devin Setoguchi
and Mike Lundin
are going to be healthy scratches, but we can welcome back the speedy David McIntyre
to the lineup.
As for attire, the Wild will wear the aforementioned home reds for this one. The Sharks are in their road whites trimmed in teal, black and peach with the stick-chomping fish on the chest.
To top it off, we've got Jack Jablonski's younger brother, Max in the house to present the State of Hockey flag at center ice tonight. I was already predicting a win, but the sight of Max out there is going to have this Wild team pumped up tonight.
Let's get weird people.Period 1
17:19 - Things are getting testy already down there, and I love it. After Antti Niemi smothers the puck with the Kyle Brodziak
line cycling in the San Jose end, Darroll Powe
delivers a punch to the chest of Jamie McGinn. Stay out of our way, San Jose, or there will be more where this came from.
16:07 - Mr. 1,000, Matt Cullen
picks up a bouncing puck in the slot and flings it along the ice on goal. Niemi makes a butterfly stop, but he doesn't know where the puck is between his pads. He's finally able to cover up. Cullen will score at least one goal tonight in his 1,000th game.
13:16 - Former Boston College Eagle Benn Ferriero tests Harding with a quick wrist shot from the right circle. The southpaw is able to get his glove up just in time for a big stop.12:56 - MIN 1 - SJ 0 - That's what we like... the good stuff. Cal Clutterbuck makes it look easy as he splits a pair of Sharks in the left circle and then walks in on Niemi. Cal spots an opening on the far side and flicks one past the glove to put the Wild on the board. I have to say, after struggling to find some top play candidates in a one-goal week last week, it's nice to have one out of the way early on this week.
10:38 - Now that it's official, we can recognize Cullen for his 1,000th game. During the first TV timeout, the PA announcer calls attention to the bench and the fans honor him with a nice ovation for the home state kid.
9:36 - There's Ol' Brent Burns firing off a hard slapper after a scramble around Harding. The Wild netminder is all over this shot from his old buddy and gloves it cleanly.
7:40 - The Wild power play is wheeling and dealing right now and it nets a scoring chance for Nick Schultz who skates ahead with the play. He's got a full head of steam going up the right side and he pumps a shot on goal. Niemi makes that stop, but Schultz follows up on the rebound and punches it just wide of the far side.
6:20 - You don't like to see a turnover in your own zone end up right on the tape of Joe Thornton. Jumbo gets the puck against the right boards and then throws it to the front for a wide open Patrick Marleau, who his looking for his 800th career point. It's going to have to wait as Harding slides over and makes the stop by squeezing the leg pillows together.
4:36 - This isn't ideal. Already down a man, Brodziak takes the draw against Thornton. When the puck goes out to the point, Brodziak goes after it and gets hooked by Thornton. Brodzy responds with a slash across the shins and Thornton goes down in a heap. That means the Sharks will have 1:57 of a two-man advantage. Brodziak is incensed at Thornton, but it's not going to help. He's going off.3:52 - MIN 1 - SJ 1 - It's now a one-man advantage as the Sharks don't waste much time cashing in. With all kinds of room, Marleau dishes off to Dan Boyle at the left point. The former Miami-Ohio Redskin one-times a blast that squeaks through the padding of Harding and in.
0:00 - The first 20 is in the books as tempers flare at the buzzer between Clutterbuck and former Wisconsin Badger, Joe Pavelski. Even strength, things are looking good. If we can avoid going two men down the rest of the way, we'll be sound as a pound.Period 2
18:15 - A fallen Shark lands right in Harding's crease, preventing him from getting over as Michal Handzus skates the puck behind the Wild net. Fortunately, Handzus loses control of the puck before he can take a shot at the gaping net.
15:57 - Yikes! Clayton Stoner
lays a big check on Pavelski at the side of the Wild net. Pavelski slides hard into the endboards, but thankfully he pops right back up and play goes on. No call on Stoner, and that appears to be the right call.
13:50 - Some more rough stuff after a save on Gillies by Niemi. Brad Staubitz and Warren Peters
are both down there mixing it up a bit, but no punches are thrown and again, no penalty has been called.
12:52 - Harding comes up with a "look what I have" save off another shot from Boyle. This one deflects off the ice on its way but skips right into Harding's glove about one foot off the ice.
12:17 - We very nearly had another Top Play candidate, this time from Dany Heatley
. He catches a centering pass from Mikko Koivu
with his back to the net. He spins around to his backhand side and slides one through the legs of Niemi but off the post. The puck bounces back through the crease and under the rump of the Sharks keeper, who has looked a bit shaky tonight.
8:11 - Heatley has another crack at a goal on the power play, sending a screamer from the slot but it's stopped by Niemi. The Wild power play has looked strong to very strong tonight, but thus far it doesn't have a goal to show for it.6:34 - MIN 2 - SJ 1 - There's nothing prettier than a dirty, greasy goal from the fourth line. McIntyre gets the puck to the point for Justin Falk who just throws a shot toward the net. That's where Warren Peters is battling and the puck bounces off his leg and behind Niemi for a goal. That's the first of the year for Peters, who doesn't even need a stick to score goals at this level.
6:21 - Now we've got mayhem in the San Jose crease. Cullen nearly blows the roof off by walking in and putting one past Niemi. The puck bounces off the post and onto the pad of Niemi as he just sits in there. Wild players go from celebrating what they thought was a goal, to realizing the puck is still loose and there hasn't been a whistle. But just as Casey Wellman knocks the disc in, there is a whistle. The ref waves that off, but we've got about eight bodies inside the net all battling each other.
4:41 - The stack-the-pad save is about as common as a flamingo on a Lake Calhoun beach, but Harding brings it back in full force on an absolute robbery of Logan Couture. The puck pinballs all around the slot in front of the Wild keeper until it finally pops to Couture who is all by himself about five feet in front of the crease. He hauls off and whacks one, but Harding decks the pillows to his left and makes a huge save.
1:50 - I love these bad attitudes by the Wild players. After Stoner takes a hit from behind from Andrew Desjardins, there are some shenanigans after the whistle. Brodziak has words with Desjardins, and then Stoner mixes it up with Ryane Clowe. We haven't seen this nasty edge since the Oiler game on December 29, and that game turned out well for the good guys.
0:00 - The second period is kaput, and we've got a little lead to toy around with following this intermission.Period 3
15:42 - Harding is on one tonight. He comes up with a save on a shot from the point, and then robs Clowe on the right side with a sliding pad save off the rebound. Harding is playing the role of Johan Santana in his glory years. You've got a bit of a losing streak? He'll put a stop to that with a dazzling performance. Bert Blyleven likes to call them "stoppers." I'd say that's what Harding is.
13:18 - If Harding gets a piece of this shot, it's an amazing save. Either way, this game probably should be tied as Desjardins scoops up a rebound and goes to the other side to try and stuff it in. Harding has to dive headfirst to get a piece of it, but the shot misses wide. Whether or not he got a mitt on that, I still don't know. No, now I do now. The shot went wide.12:18 - MIN 3 - SJ 1 - Go to the far side with it, Nick...nicely done! Playing on the top line in Setoguchi's absence, Nick Johnson glides through the left circle with plenty of space. Like Clutterbuck, he picks his spot far on the glove side and hits it with a pinpoint wrister from the left faceoff dot. Man, these two-goal leads are delicious.
10:13 - MIN 3 - SJ 2 - Alas, the lead now is just one. Marc-Edouard Vlasic gets the puck at the left point, and when he sees a mess of bodies in front of Harding, he throws the puck toward the goal. As it sails through the air, it's knocked down by Ferriero which is enough to fool a screened Harding and the puck slides in.
9:32 - Koivu and Thornton have been jawing with each other all night, and right now, Koivu is giving it to big number 19 as they go to their benches. I'm curious to know if Koivu is using any curse words.6:20 - MIN 4 - SJ 2 - That's in! That's in! Cullen picks up a loose puck at center ice and turns on the jets into the Sharks zone. He just barrels his way to the net, where he's stopped by Niemi. But Wellman is following up the play and he jams at the loose puck. The puck is headed toward the goal, but actually banks in off the leg of Cullen, who is laying on the ice. Sorry Casey, but we've got to give him that one in his 1,000th game after all.
3:06 - MIN 4 - SJ 3 - These Sharks won't die. A shot from the point hits traffic in front and bounces to the right of Harding where Couture is at the side of the net. He has three whacks at the puck and then finally is able to bank one in off a Wild skate and into the net.
2:44 - MIN 4 - SJ 4 - Oh boy. Now, the Sharks are very much alive. Thornton spots Patrick Marleau cutting to the net and he puts the puck right on the tape. All Marleau has to do is deflect it, and he does for his 800th career NHL point. Now it's finger nail-biting time.
0:00 - The first point is pocketed. Now, the Wild needs to get that second one, and the plan is to take care of that in overtime.Overtime
4:41 - Oh...my...word! Boyle fires a long shot toward the goal. It hits Marleau's skate in the crease and then starts dribbling behind Harding toward the goal line. The Wild keeper dives back and flicks the puck away with his glove in the nick of time.
3:41 - Someone needs to get in Marleau's way. He's scaring the bejeebus out of me. He steals the puck in the Wild zone and moves right in on Harding. Fortunately, Hards keeps a level head and makes another huge save with the right leg pad. Man alive!
0:53.7 - Faceoff in the Wild zone and the crowd is now standing at attention.
0:00 - And we're headed to the shootout. Call me crazy, but I've got a good feeling about this one. ShootoutIn his 1,000th game, Cullen is up first. He tries to tuck one through the five hole. It appears that Niemi makes the save, but the puck keeps going and eventually gets over the goal line.
Handzus is up first for San Jose. He tries to go high glove, but Harding snaps it out of the air.Koivu can put the Sharks behind the 8-ball, and he does with his slick backhand move that he puts top shelf.
Clowe has to score, or this thing is over...It's over! Harding lays the pad down and Clowe can't lift it over. We're back in the "W" column friends! That one's for Jabs!