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What is up State of Hockey legion? Welcome to another Sunday evening live in-game commentary, where friends and foes alike are welcome. In this day and age, we encourage people to come together in unison so we can provide for a better future for the kids. If we don't, they could end up being Canuck fans and be ridiculed for the rest of their lives. Nobody wants to see that, especially me, although I'm a little testy today. That's just what happens when the dirty Canucks are in town. The hair on my back stands on end and my upper lip starts to quiver.
Of course, if you're a Canuck fan, I wish you no ill will. I just wish you misery for the next, oh, let's say three hours. And, I also hope you come to terms with the fact that your team is very easy to dislike. But you already knew that. Anyway, I'm getting off point. Tonight, I'm coming to you live from my beloved perch in the Al Shaver Press Box, a few stories above the frozen water at Xcel Energy Center. From here, I've seen a lot of memorable moments involving the Canucks and the Wild, and I'm expecting more tonight. However, I'm fairly certain I won't see a player go into the stands tonight, but you never know. I believe the saying goes, "expect the unexpected," and that's fine, but you should also expect a Wild win.
I'm not even trying to hear you tell me how good the Can't-ucks are. You say they've got the best record in the league? Congrats to them. They haven't dealt with Anton Khudobin, who has never lost back-to-back starts in the NHL. You might say he's never made back-to-back starts. To that I say, shut your cake hole, because I'm watching him take warmup shots as I type this and he has most certainly brought his "A" game.
The Wild are hampered by a few injuries today. You know about the goaltending situation, with Jose Theodore out with a hip injury and Niklas Backstrom
taking the backup role as he recovers from a lower body injury of his own. Marco Scandella
is out because of a mild concussion suffered from taking a puck to the head on Friday. Guillaume Latendresse
(abdominal) and Marek Zidlicky (shoulder) are both out of the lineup. The good news is that there won't be any feelings hurt from being scratched from the lineup. If you're healthy, you're in.
As for attire, the Wild are breaking out their Sunday best and going with the green third jerseys. The Canucks are wearing the road whites trimmed in green and blue with the C-shaped Shamu on the chest.
John Olson, the creator of the State of Hockey anthem, gets us going with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. He was born a child of the strong and wild, so I say we listen. Let's do this thing.Period 1
17:46 - Personally, I think the Canucks should have gone with Roberto Luongo in goal. Instead, they opted for former Boston College Eagle Cory Schnieider, who makes a spectacular glove save when Brent Burns fires the puck into the slot and Martin Havlat puts a perfect tip on it to steer it to the upper corner. Schneider's flash of the leather earns some well deserved "Ooooohs!" from the crowd.
14:39 - Nick Schultz cranks a slap shot from the left circle that Schneider nabs again. On his way past the net, Chuck Kobasew gets pulled down by the face on a highstick from former Boston College Eagle Andrew Alberts. Now would be a good time for the Wild power play to come alive.
13:40 - Mittens would like to have this one back. After a Brent Burns shot is stopped by the pad of Schneider, Andrew Brunette quickly dishes the rebound to Antti Miettinen at the hash marks. He's got a wide open net but a Vancouver stick gets in there at the last instant and he pumps his bid over the cage.
12:28 - The power play is over, but the crowd is appreciative of a dominant display of passing and shooting that doesn't generate a goal, but should get some serious momentum going for the good guys. Shots are currently 8-0 in favor of MInnesota.
10:41 - The Canucks finally get their first shot on goal and it's a rocket off the stick of Manny Malhotra from the right circle. Khudobin just gets his arm up in time to deflect it over the cage.
10:09 - I never have a shortage of comments when the Canucks come to town. This crowd is rocking after Brad Staubitz and former Brown University Bear Aaron Volpatti drop the gloves behind the Wild net as a result of Volpatti smashing Jared Spurgeon
into the backboards. Volpatti jumps Staubitz early in the tussle, but the Wild bruiser regains his composure and explodes with two vicious lefts that put Volpatti on the ice and gets the crowd going with a huge ovation.
4:04 - Oh my! A long shot is tipped in front of the net by Mikael Samuelsson, and the puck pops high in the air and drops behind him in the crease. Burns is on high alert and dives head first into the crease and in one motion, bats the puck with his hand. Just pure craziness right now.
0:00 - Perhaps one of the most entertaining scoreless periods you will ever see comes to a close. I have a suspicion that it won't let up just becaus of a brief intermission.Period 2
16:57 - We're four-on-four right now, and that results in a prime chance for Spurgeon to net his first NHL goal. He's found in the high slot with a pass from Brunette and he's got all kinds of space in front of him. He takes a few steps and fires a wrister, but Schneider gets the waffle glove up for a big save.16:29 - MIN 1 - VAN 0 - There it is! We'll take goals any way we can get them, even if it means putting three green jerseys in the crease. Miettinen's bid from in tight is stopped by Schneider in the crease, but Pierre-Marc Bouchard gets down and dirty, jabbing away at the puck. Chaos ensues in the crease, but the puck meanders over to the left side where Brunette dives headfirst and pokes it in. Referee Dean Morton emphatically signals goal, and the video review backs up his call.
13:53 - Chuck's a killer! One guy you don't expect to drop the gloves is Chuck Kobasew, but he will do what it takes. In the neutral zone, he and former Minnesota Gopher Keith Ballard come together and start going at it. This is Chuck's first fight since February 24, 2009, and that came against Ballard as well. They trade blows for quite awhile before the linesmen finally break it up.
11:53 - I haven't had much time to talk about Khudobin tonight, but so far he has been exceptional. He comes up with a pretty kick save on former Ohio State Buckeye Ryan Kesler.
10:56 - And sometimes, Khudobin gets help from other goaltenders on the team like Greg Zanon. The Nucks put on a passing clinic to get a great chance for Jannik Hansen wide open in the slot. But Hansen has to find some room to shoot at with Khudobin and Zanon right in the crease. He puts the shot right off the Wild defenseman, who racks up another blocked shot.8:51 - MIN 2 - VAN 0 - Yes!!!! It's Havlat doing his thing, and giving the Wild a huge goal. He pressures Alexander Edler into fanning on a pass in the neutral zone, and Havlat scoops up the loose puck and has a clear lane in on Schneider. Number 24 offers up a couple shoulder fakes before darting to the center of the slot and tucking it between the pads of the Nucks target. Big time players...
0:00 - Another very good period for the Wild comes to an end. Expect an all out blitz from the high powered Canucks in the third.Period 3
19:30 - I like it Burnsy. Well after Khudobin gloves the puck after it bounces off the backboard, the annoying Alexander Burrows comes charging into the crease. Burns is ready for him and delivers a shot to his chops. Schultz then comes in and yanks Burrows out of Dobby's personal space.
19:17 - What a great night of redemption this has been for Khudobin. He makes his best stop of the night. A long shot from the point is kicked into the right circle where Kesler is waiting to drive the rebound. But Khudobin quickly slides over and takes the shot right in the chest protector. 16:23 - MIN 3 - VAN 0 - "Booyah! Booyah! BOOyah!" says Stu Scott. Matt Cullen rips the monkey off the back and throws it into the Vancouver net, right behind the puck he puts in there on the penalty kill. Cullen races ahead to gather a loose puck at the red line and has a lone breakaway. He picks his spot on the far post and does not miss. He jubilantly raises both arms high in the air as if to say, "finally!" That one feels good.
10:43 - MIN 4 - VAN 0 - Vancouver should come to town more often. The Wild is making mulch out of the best team in the NHL, as they so often do at Xcel Energy Center. Kobasew hustles into the far corner after a loose puck and takes a quick peek back to see John Madden standing all alone in front. Kobasew quickly hits him and Madden finishes by tipping it past Schneider.
5:34 - Just trying to tack on, Havlat leads a two-on-one and deftly slips a pass under a sliding defender and hits Kyle Brodziak
all alone. Brodzy puts the tip on it but misses just wide.
3:59 - Now it's about trying to preserve the shutout, and Khudobin does his part. On the Canucks power play, Henrik Sedin gets the puck all alone at the right side. Once again, Khudobin quickly slides across and makes a dazzling stop with the leg pillow.
0:00 - That right there is an impressive win for the good guys and a great way to depart for a four-game road trip. And how about Anton Khudobin with his first NHL shutout? What a night!