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Holla State of Hockey legion, and a Happy Daylights Savings time to you all. I'm sure I don't need to remind you to set your clocks back tonight, but I do have a suggestion if you'll allow it. I'm thinking it might be a good idea to set you clock back now, because in a few minutes the Minnesota Wild are going to go at it with the St. Louis Blues. You are going to get so caught up in the emotion and intrigue of this game, and by the end of another huge Wild victory, you're going to be in the mood to party. The problem is, you're going to get so party hardy that you'll start thinking that it's okay to stay out late because you're going to be getting an extra hour of sleep. Well, one thing will lead to another, and you'll find yourself at Perkins at 5:00 a.m. and you'll have completely forgotten to set your clocks back. So you'll rush off to church in your clothes from last night and reeking of pancake batter.
If I've seen it once, I've seen it a thousand times.
So now that you've set your clocks back, we can get to the good stuff that will start your Saturday night the right way. I'm coming to you live from my perch in the Al Shaver Press Box, high atop the ice level at Xcel Energy Center. I've got my Coke and my popcorn ready. I've got Dan Terhaar and Mike Greenlay behind me reminiscing about Andy Rooney (moment of silence) and I've got the Wild and Blues partaking in pregame warmups beneath me.
And there's Josh Harding
down to my right. In case you're not familiar with Josh, he's the guy that's basically the best goalie in the world right now. Three straight games, three wins, two goals against, a boatload of saves, yada yada yada. He's getting the start tonight, and that can only mean bad things for the people of St. Louis. Fortunately for them, they have a good baseball team they're still having a passionate love affair with. So the fact that Hards is about to shut out their favorite hockey team probably isn't even on their radar.
Just a few injury notes for you. Mike Lundin
(back), Clayton Stoner
(hand) and Greg Zanon are out of the lineup tonight. There won't be any healthy scratches in this one, so that's always nice.
Finally, the Wild will once again don the snappy red sweaters for tonight's contest. The Blues are going with the road whites trimmed in blue and yellow with the musical note on the chest.
Tom Lund and Aaron Hinnenkamp, the hero Zamboni drivers at Amsoil Arena in Duluth get us going with the Let's Play Hockey declaration. As you know, I'm all about Duluth, and I'm all about people who save lives, especially of a guy I went to high school with. Let's do this thing.Period 1
18:13 - Cal Clutterbuck
, every linesman's worst nightmare, tries to stuff one in from behind the net. The puck squirts to the other side where Kyle Brodziak
is stationed. He slaps a shallow angle shot right on but Jaroslav Halak is able to slide over and get a piece of it.
11:52 - The puck isn't anywhere near them, but Nick Schultz lays a pretty heavy shoulder into former North Dakota Fighting Sioux T.J. Oshie in front of the Wild net. Why would you do that Nick? Oshie is one of the great college hockey intermission guests of all time!
10:48 - Harding is tested for the first time tonight by Alex Steen. Steen emerges from behind the net and tries to put a shot on goal. The puck hits traffic and bounces right back to him, but his rebound attempt is swallowed up by Harding outside his crease. A sign of a confident goaltender is his willingness to come out of his crease and challenge those shots. Kudos Josh. Kudos.
4:39 - Mikko Koivu
works his magic in the corner and comes away with the puck after a battle with two Blues. He quickly finds Guillaume Latendresse
with a quick pass, and Gui is turned away with a sliding pad stop by Halak.
0:00 - That was quick. Not a ton of action, and not a ton of whistles. We might get out of here by 8:00 if this keeps up. But you're going to see a few stoppages in the second when the Wild pumps a few shots past Halak.Period 2
16:29 - Clutterbuck goes into the corner to get the puck and Oshie drives at him hard, sending him into the air like a helicopter. Cal don't care. He gets right back up and joins the play.
15:31 - Right off a faceoff in the St. Louis zone, Latendresse reaches for the puck and pulls it between the legs of former UND Sioux Taylor Chorney. Latendresse is now alone with Halak and tries to put one in on the far side, but the Blues keeper stretches out the right leg and stuffs him on the doorstep.
9:55 - Something is going to happen in this game, right? Maybe here, the Wild is about to get a power play.8:21 - MIN 1 - STL 0 - Bro hug time! We're four on four and that opens up some ice for Mikko and The Heater. Nate Prosser blocks a shot and that starts Koivu and Dany Heatley on a two-on-one the other way. Koivu dishes to Heatley on the right and he waits just a beat before zipping a wrist shot. Halak gets a piece of it, but the puck bounces behind him and in. Heatley and Koivu meet up behind the net with a big bear hug. That's what we needed!
7:22 - Right at the end of a short five-on-three advantage for St. Louis, the puck is passed back and forth at the top of the key. Jason Arnott unloads a slapper and Harding slides over with a slick glove save.
4:14 - Now we've got some action, Jackson. Matt Cullen
finds Pierre-Marc Bouchard
in the left circle. Butch lets go with a one-timer and Halak makes a big-time stop with the waffle mitt.
2:26 - The gloves are off, and it's Darroll Powe
engaging in his first fight as a member of the Wild. Off a neutral zone faceoff, 50-year-old Scott Nichol is going after him hard, wanting a fight in the worst way. Powe finally okays the deal and they go at it. Doesn't look like either guy lands any huge punches and the refs finally break it up in front of the St. Louis bench.1:18 - MIN 2 - STL 0 - Big time players make big time plays. Alex Pietrangelo makes a small time play at his own blueline and Latendresse steals it from him. He moves right in on Halak, makes a nifty move to put it on his backhand and then just roofs it over Halak. Gui is loving it. He celebrates by skating to the corner, looking at the crowd and holding his arms out wide like Maximus the Gladiator. Are you not entertained?
0:53.1 - Guys just fighting for each other. That's what you love to see. After Harding covers up the puck, Marek Zidlicky takes a shot from a Blues forechecker. That brings everybody in, and we've got a melee. All 10 skaters are battling in the crease, and just when it looks like it's over, it sparks up again and the pile moves into the corner. Everybody is paired off, but there won't be any major penalties to come out of this.
0:00 - A lot more whisltes that period, and a lot more action. The Wild will take a two-goal lead into the intermission, as well as a whole lot of good juju.Period 3
19:57 - Right off the faceoff, former Minnesota State Mankato Maverick David Backes starts crosschecking Latendresse. Those two have some words and both are heading to the box. Right now, there are five guys in the Wild penalty box and six in the Blues box. Backes and Brodziak are yelling at each other from the boxes.
19:20 - On the power play, Bouchard unleashes a wicked slap shot that Halak just gets a piece of. The puck trickles behind him and rolls toward the goal, but hits the side.
13:07 - Cullen is just feeling it these days. He turns on the jets to blow by Evgeny Grachev (bless you) and move in on Halak. He spots Devin Setoguchi
on the other side and hits him on the tape. Seto has a shallow angle but quite a bit of net until Halak slides over and snares it with the glove.
8:25 - Harding comes up with maybe his biggest save of the night. A harmless looking shot from the point hits the skate of Arnott in front and deflects right in on Harding. He quickly slams the pads together and keeps it out. That could have swung things the wrong way because in the last 35 minutes, it has been all Wild all the time.
4:57 - Arnott again...Harding again. The Wild netminder stuffs him on the doorstep again. Then again, who isn't Harding stopping at every turn these days?2:02 - MIN 2 - STL 1 - The Blues finally break through on Harding, only after he completely robs Vladimir Sobotka. But St. Louis keeps throwing the puck on net and Cloquet's own Jamie Langenbrunner is finally able to poke one past the Wild keeper to set up a very interesting finish.
1:29 - Halak is off for the extra attacker.
0:00 - Ho hum, just another W for the good guys. Another very solid effort in all facets, and we're riding a nice little wave of a four-game win streak here folks. That ought to make you enjoy your Sunday, eh?