This page will automatically refresh every 60 seconds.
What's going down State of Hockey legion? Please do not be alarmed, for I am just trying to quietly regain my spot as the lead commenter on live in-game commentary here at Wild.com, where dreams come true. You may or may not have noticed that Carly Peters was at the keyboard controls over the last two games and carried the Wild to consecutive victories. I, on the other hand, was in Florida dealing with rainstorms and rowdy pre-teens. If I have to go back to Florida to allow the Wild to win these last five games while the Blackhawks lose their last five, I will. I don't want to. But I will.
I would much rather stay away from the volatile Florida weather so I can set up camp here at my beloved perch in the Al Shaver Press Box, high above the rink level at Xcel Energy Center. The weather is so much more predictable here as the Wild faces the Tampa Bay Lightning; bright with a high probability of goals and a 100% chance of a UMD Bulldogs national championship later in the week.
You see, sometimes predictable things are good. Sure, it's nice to be surprised on your birthday or when you get proposed to on the Jumbotron at a sporting event. But I like a rhythym to things, and that's why I am thrilled that Niklas Backstrom
is manning the crease tonight. Asking if Backs has brought his "A" game is like asking if the weather will be cold in Minnesota from October through March. It's a given.
I do have a bit of bad news for y'all, but please don't label me as "that guy" who always spoils the party with some downer information. Nick Schultz will miss the remainder of the season due to concussion symptoms. Marek Zidlicky will also miss today's game due to a lower body injury. Cam Barker (upper body), Marco Scandella
(finger) and Guillaume Latendresse
(abdominal) are also out. That means Justin Falk
and Maxim Noreau will both be in the lineup this afternoon, and I expect both to get on the scoresheet with a point apiece.
Finally, we can gab about fashion. The Wild will break out the green third jerseys for today's game. The Lightning will go with the road whites trimmed in black, blue and silver with the lightning bolt on the chest. Seeing those jerseys makes me think I'm back in Florida, staring out the hotel room at another thunderstorm. Great times.
Leslie Frazier, one of the most popular Minnesotans ever just because he's not named Brad Childress, gets us started with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. Ahhhroooooooo
! Let the Wild rumpus begin!Period 1
18:28 - On his first shift of the night, Falk gets the puck at the point and fires a quick, low shot on goal. The shot seems to surprise former UMass-Lowell Riverhawk Dwayne Roloson, who stops it with his stick only to have it pop up and hit him square in the mask. That might cause the 72-year-old Roloson's hearing aids to start beeping something fierce.
15:23 - This is a sight that might make dozens of Lightning fans cringe. Jared Spurgeon
winds up and cranks a shot toward the Tampa goal, but he catches 44-goal scorer Steven Stamkos in the skate. Stamkos is visibly hobbled, but he's able to skate for a bit before heading to the bench.
11:26 - Backstrom is tested for the first time today as a puck slides out to the top of the left circle where Pavel Kubina is stationed. He rips a low laser toward the goal, but Backy snags it with the lobster mitt and draws a chorus of "ooohhh's" from the crowd.
10:02 - Martin Havlat has scored quite a few goals this season by taking the puck from the sideboards and bulldozing his way to the net. He tries that again here, and has the puck sticked away just as he gets to the front. He stays with the play and tries to fling the puck back to the crease, but Roloson is able to corral it while laying on the ice.
4:48 - Good gracious, that is a save. Former Wild and Harvard Crimson sparkplug Dominic Moore is found wide open in the right faceoff circle. He gets off a one-timer toward a wide open net, and Backstrom is able to slide over and get a toe on it just before it can get to the goal line.
3:31 - Noreau tries to one-time a shot and snaps his stick with the lower half helicoptering into the crowd about 20 rows deep. Two fans actually catch it at the same time. Let's hope they keep it clean down there. 2:57 - MIN 1 - TB 0 - There it is. The Wild strikes first as Kyle Brodziak lets a shot go from the left circle. Roloson makes a kick save, but he puts it back into the slot where Pierre-Marc Bouchard is happy to gobble up that delicious rebound. He punches it right back toward the goal for his 11th of the season. What a comeback season for Butch.
0:00 - That's going to do it for the first 20. We'll take a couple more like that, but first it's time to grab some energy drink and maybe strategize for a bit.Period 2
15:00 - Two guys that know how to move the puck - Havlat and Bouchard - play catch on an odd-man rush, completely fooling the Lightning defense. Bouchard ends up dropping the puck back to an incoming Brent Burns, and the big blueliner snaps a point black shot that Roloson stops. 14:51 - MIN 1 - TB 1 - The Lightning regroup and race the other way with Moore finding former St. Cloud State Husky Ryan Malone crashing the net. Malone puts one past Backstrom before getting rocked by Justin Falk. The Lightning get the goal, and Backstrom gets a headache. He is very slow to get up as Doc Fuller comes out to attend to him. After a lengthy delay, he rids himself of the cobwebs and he's ready to go.
13:03 - Noreau is having himself a game today in his Xcel Energy Center debut. He winds and fires with another big shot from the point, and Roloson comes up with a big save with the leg pillow.10:55 - MIN 1 - TB 2 - The Wild had just gotten away with a penalty as Greg Zanon was holding onto the stick of Steven Stamkos, but they get bitten anyway. A deflected shot by Eric Brewer ends up on the stick of Simon Gagne at the side of the net. He pushes it across to the other side where Steve Downie is able to punch it in while battling with Chuck Kobasew.
7:34 - Brodziak makes a great hustle play to chase down a puck behind the Tampa net and in one motion, throw a pass out to Eric Nystrom in front. He fires a shot from between the circles, but misses high.
5:41 - Look out Marty! As he catches a pass and tries to gain the Lightning zone, Havlat is stood up at the blueline on a huge check by Mattias Ohlund. Give Ohlund credit for attacking Havlat from the front, rather than with a vicious slash to the back of the leg.
1:54 - Brodziak alertly takes advantage of a turnover in the neutral zone and finds Havlat at the Tampa blueline. Marty has a step on Victor Hedman, who can only use his stick to slow up the Wild sniper. Havlat is still able to get a backhand shot off, but Hedman is going to get two for a hook.Period 3
18:29 - Right out of the penalty box, Matt Cullen
comes back to his own end to steal a pass off the stick of former Vermont Catamount, Martin St. Louis. Cullen then leads the rush the other way with Vinny Lecavalier the only guy back in a white jersey. Cullen dips past him to get in on Roloson but the ageless goaltender stuffs him on the doorstep.
14:54 - You could hit a gong with a hammer and it wouldn't make a louder noise than what Brodziak just created by smoking a shot past Roloson and off the post.12:02 - MIN 1 - TB 3 - Basically a two-goal swing here. After Brodziak's pipe shot, the Lightning take control on a two-on-one led by St. Louis. He dishes off to Sean Bergenheim who is able to move in untouched on Backstrom. He picks a spot and hits it with a quick wrister. The Wild now must score two to avoid being eliminated from postseason contention.
7:58 - There's not much of a rivalry between these two teams, but things are getting a bit testy down there. Downie and Antti Miettinen have a hold of each other and Downie delivers a shove. Antti responds with a quick glove to the face, and Downie basically slaps him back. Looks kind of like an NBA fight.
5:49 - Just as a Wild power play expires, a shot from the point is blocked and front, causing the puck to bounce directly to Cal Clutterbuck
. He pumps a shot right on and Roloson is able to come up with another big stop for his 27th save of the game.
2:29 - That St. Louis is a crafty little bugger. At the bottom of the left circle, he skates toward the Wild net, then avoids Cullen by pulling off a spin-o-rama and letting a backhand go all in one motion. Backstrom sponges up that shot for his 20th save.
1:54 - Backstrom is off for an extra attacker.
0:00 - That's going to do it. The Wild drops one to the Lightning, and that officially means there won't be playoff hockey here in St. Paul this season. That will change next year.