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Good Evening State of Hockey legion, and a Happy "Tell A Fairy Tale" Day to all of you. In honor of this very special day, I'd like to start out this live in-game commentary presented by Sun Country Airlines with one of my favorite fairy tales of all times: Ahem..."Once upon a time, there were two hockey players named "Steve" and "Kurt." Steve and Kurt couldn't have been more different from each other. Steve had red hair and was an energetic forward. In his spare time, he loved to wear white shorts and white polo shirt when playing Ping Pong and also mocking the toothless Colorado Avalanche player named "Cody."
Kurt was a little more mild-mannered until he had the puck on his stick. He would launch that puck with his super-powered slap shot at speeds upwards of 500 miles per hour.
Both Kurt and Steve found themselves playing hockey on the same team in a magical land called "Minnesota." They were a part of some very good teams, but couldn't quite accomplish the ultimate goal. Kurt suffered a terrible leg injury that almost ended his career. Steve tried to become his own agent in the offseason, and that almost ended his career. Both players left Minnesota and we thought we might never see them again.
But a wizard named Chuck whipped a concoction that brought them both back to Minnesota. In their first game back, they both scored a goal to help the Wild beat the San Jose Sharks. From there, the Wild went on a tear, made the playoffs and won the Stanley Cup. Everyone lived happily ever after."
Every time I read that one, I get a little weepy. The San Jose Sharks are going to feel the same way in about two and a half hours when the Wild runs them out of this building. I'm pretty sure about this because Niklas Backstrom
got pulled from his last start, and we all know when that happens, he comes back with a performance for the ages.
I'm sure Backy is as excited as all of us to see some familiar faces in the lineup today. Kurtis Foster
and Stephane Veilleux
are back in the fold, and we can also extend a warm in-game commentary welcome to Nick Palmieri
, the power forward of the future (no pressure). Those guys are all in, while Mikko Koivu
(undisclosed), Mike Lundin
(lower body), Clayton Stoner
(lower body), Guillaume Latendresse
(concussion), Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion), Jarod Palmer
(concussion), Nate Prosser
(healthy scratch) and Matt Kassian
(healthy scratch) are out.
Currently, the good guys are wearing their camouflage jerseys for pregame warmups to support Defending the Blue Line. Prior to faceoff, they'll change into their red sweaters. The Sharks are in their road whites trimmed in black and teal with the stick-eating fish on the chest.
Jim Kleinsasser, everybody's favorite fullback/tight end combo, gets us going with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. Let's do this, y'all.Period 118:38 - MIN 0 - SJ 1 - Not the start we were looking for, but in every fairy tale, there is an obstacle to overcome, like Cinderella's wicked step sisters. Jamie McGinn and former Miami University Redhawk Tommy Wingels are those step sisters. McGinn wins a race to a puck behind the Wild net. He quickly throws a pass to the front of the net for Wingels, who jams it in between the legs of Backstrom. And the silence is deadly.
16:39 - MIN 0 - SJ - 2 - The obstacle is slightly larger now. After Backstrom stops a long shot that is tipped by Patrick Marleau, a the puck is laying in front. Jumbo Joe Thornton pounces on it like a leopard on a weak antelope and throws it into the gaping net. The Sharks have two goals. The Wild is looking for its first shot.
11:08 - Palmieri offers a glimpse of what the Wild was looking for in the trade. Behind the San Jose net, he grabs the puck and muscles his way through a pair of Shark defenders before trying for a wraparound that Thomas Greiss stops with the paddle of his stick.
10:47 - MIN 1 - SJ 2 - There we go! Cal Clutterbuck gets the monkey off his back with a text book shallow angle bounce shot. Skating wide on the right side, he fires a shot that bounces off the stick of a defending Colin White. The puck skips like a rock across water and that fools Greiss, getting the Wild on the board. That helps.
7:57 - Clutterbuck and White converge again in the right corner. This time, Clutter is lining him up for a monstrous hit. White sees him at the last second and the collision is extreme. Clutterbuck is the one that ends up on the ice, but White certainly was taken aback as well.
5:51 - What is Marleau doing? While jostling with Foster in front of the Wild net, he spins around and cross checks Foster deliberately and right in the face. Inexplicably, he's only getting a two-minute minor for highsticking. Absolutely ridiculous that he's not going for longer.
3:51 - The penalty to Marleau is over, but the Wild power play does everything but score a goal. A very good job by players getting shots to the net and causing problems out front. If they can keep that up, the next time a Sharks player cross checks one of our guys in the face, we'll be ready.
0:48.0 - Interesting move here by Yeo. He takes a timeout with the Sharks buzzing around quite a bit and the Wild players gassed after an icing.
0:00 - The first period is in the books as Jared Spurgeon
launches a slapper from his own end that is on goal. Period 2
18:42 - I mean, I can't believe this. Neither can Dany Heatley
. A shot from the point hits traffic on the way to Greiss. After a scramble, the puck pops to Heatley standing all alone at the side of the crease. He appears to have a lay up, but Greiss lunches back and gets his arm down to glove it just before it gets to the goal line. Unbelievable stop. 18:17 - MIN 2 - SJ 2 - Don't hurt 'em Hammer! The Wild converts on the power play after a blast fro mthe point by who else? Nick Schultz gets the puck at the point and crushes a shot toward the net. The puck hits something and deflects up and past Greiss. We've got a tie hockey game.
17:45 - There's an eerie silence in the building right now due to what appears to be a very serious situation on the San Jose bench. Players and Sharks staff are huddles around somebody, and that somebody is Head Coach Todd McLellan. I'm not sure what the issue is, but he is down for a few minutes. Fortunately, he's helped up and he walks to the locker room. Let's hope there is nothing serious he's dealing with.
16:04 - Greiss now has not one, but two jaw-dropping, highlight reel saves. Two of the new guys - Veilleux and Palmieri - generate the chance. Veilleux fires one from the slot that Greiss knocks to the side. That's where Palmieri is, and he's got an open net, but Greiss knocks his shot out of the air by reaching back, and I think getting it with the paddle of his stick. Ol' Brent Burns is also sliding across, and he may have gotten a piece of it.
10:42 - On a San Jose power play, Burns turns the puck over at his own blueline to Matt Cullen
. The Moorhead Spud walks in all alone on Greiss and tries to slide a backhand through the five hole, but the Sharks keeper holds it out, trapping it somewhere underneath his body. Clutterbuck crashes the net looking for a rebound, and Burns pulls him down from behind. When Clutter is finally allowed up, he is fuming and starts yapping at Burns. Those two go back-and-forth for quite a bit before finally going their separate ways.
8:47 - Word from downstairs is that McLellan was hit in the head with a stick. He is alert and responsive and is currently being treated by Wild doctors.
5:15 - Phew! A bad Wild line change leads to a two-on-oh opportunity for San Jose, but Thornton's lead pass is a little late getting to Logan Couture, and the Sharks are in offside.
3:30 - Marc Edouard Vlasic hauls Cullen down and gets called for holding. Vlasic then delivers a cross check to Cullen's hip as he skates away. The refs could do the right thing and tack on an unsportsmanlike minor, but how often do you expect the refs to do the right thing?
0:00 - The Wild evens it up in the second, and we've now got a huge 20 minutes coming up after this little respite.Period 3
18:52 - A nice penalty kill in progress for the Wild here. Clutterbuck wreaks havoc in the San Jose end, driving a hard slapper on goal and forcing Greiss to hang on for a rebound in his own zone.
17:27 - Palmieri darn near has a hatty tonight. Greiss carelessly plays the puck behind his own net and lollygags back to his crease. Palmeiri comes steaming in to grab the puck and he nearly wraps it around on the other side, just losing control at the last instant.
14:32 - Former Boston College Eagle Benn Ferriero makes a steal in front of the Wild net and has a chance to stuff one in, but Backstrom comes up with his biggest stop of the night.11:15 - MIN 2 - SJ 3 - That wasn't Burns scoring was it? Yes. Yes it was. He cranks a power play shot through traffic and Backstrom doesn't have a prayer because he's got three people standing directly in front of him. He finds the far side, and the Sharks get the lead back.
5:27 - MIN 3 - SJ 3 - Don't think he's going to get credit for the goal, but I'm going to go on record right now and say I really, really like this Palmieri character. Shortly after he puts a shot off the side of the post, he goes to the front of the net as Marco Scandella sends a shot toward the cage. Cullen tips it out of the air, and Palmieri is right there too, getting that big body in front of Greiss, who lets it get by.
4:13 - MIN 4 - SJ 3 - Oh my! How do you like this one Wid fans? The good guys get their first lead of the game, and it comes off a beautiful tip from former Shark, Jed Ortmeyer. He deflects a shot from the right point by Spurgeon, and this place is going loco. What a game this has turned out to be after those first five minutes disappeared.
1:20 - Greiss is out of the San Jose net.
0:00 - Now that's a happy ending in a fairy tale of a game. What a comeback for the Wild, who refuse to give up on the postseason. Still 20 games left. Plenty of time friends.